COVID-19 story by Darian Wilson, 2020

Darian Wilson describes his early childhood love of music, and how during the social distancing efforts in Madison, Wisconsin, he is able to revisit that love of music and share it with his children.

This story was originally recorded and shared as part of an episode of the Madison podcast Inside Stories. Listen to that episode and subscribe to the podcast here:

This recording was created on . You can view the original file and full metadata in our digital repository.

  • Identifier: covid19-018
    Narrator Name: Darian Wilson
    Interviewer Name: n/a
    Date of interview: 4/1/2020


    Darian Wilson: Anyone who knows me knows that my first real love was music—is music, still to this day. I tell people all the time, if I had a musical bone in my body, if I had any musical talent whatsoever, y’all would never be able to find me because I’d be globe-trotting, hopping all over the place. Even if I was a struggling, starving artist, I’d be all over the globe just playing music, because I just love it so much.

    The earliest memory I have of that love is—my mom had this old-timey, antique jukebox that she kept on our kitchen countertop as a kid growing up. It was just a small novelty thing, I don’t know where she got it from; I don’t know where it is now (I wish I knew; I probably would have kept it), but it was a penny—it cost a penny to play a song; it had like three hundred song options in it and it just fit on our countertop. I remember, vividly, days upon days upon days of searching my whole house, my neighborhood, for pennies so I could play songs on that, because mom didn’t give us pennies. She was like, “If you want to listen to music, you got to find your own money.” (laughs) And so I would, like, scour the neighborhood for pennies, and I remember putting them in there, listening to music while my mom would, oftentimes, be in the kitchen cooking. Cooking was one of her passions, and music was mine, and I didn’t know the age, but it would become one of mine.

    It was the first memory I have of music being a vital part of my life—just being able to sit in a room with my mom. We didn’t always see eye to eye, but that was one of the few times where we were able to just vibe. We were both in our element—she was cooking, and I was dancing and singing, and even if I didn’t even know what the songs were—I couldn’t tell you what the songs were; if I heard them now I probably wouldn’t enjoy them, but it was something about that moment and being in those elements that made it so powerful.

    In these trying times of self-isolation and quarantines, and—just—crazy shit all over the world, I’m finding some solace in music again. Particularly being able to share my passion of music with my kids. I have two young sons: Rashad, who is almost nine months old, and Amari, who is going on four in a couple of months now. I haven’t been able to be a part of their life the way I want to because of my career. I work after-school programming, so for the most part I was getting home at nine o’clock every night the last five years of my life. Kids asleep, wife asleep when I get home; I just plop on the couch, watch some sports, but now that schools are closed and all these after school programs are closed, I’m getting to come home—stay home (laughs)—and just be with them all day, and it’s been invigorating in a sense. It’s been frustrating, because they’re kids and they drive you crazy, but it’s been really invigorating, and the main source of that invigoration has been music. It’s been my son, particularly my oldest son Amari, falling in love with music the same way I did, by sharing it with my mom, and him sharing it with me.

    So every day during our school day—we have a homeschool schedule, loosely, where for about an hour to an hour and a half, he gets to pick records out of my record bin, and put them in our record player, and seeing the joy that he has, watching me get up and dance with him and be silly with him, and sing these songs, and basically turn our living room into our own very personal concert stage, where he’s off doing his own dancing thing and wiggling around, and I’m singing these songs, and putting on the performance I wish I could do in real life.

    He just has fallen in love with music and it’s been so, so awesome to watch. Awesome to just see him pick these records—he doesn’t know anything about them in the same way that I didn’t know anything about my mom’s jukebox. He picks records based on the color on the cover, he doesn’t even know the artist, he doesn’t know anything of the songs. He’s heard a few of them now so he knows a few of them by name, but for the most part he knows nothing about them and he picks one and he just listens to the music and he listens to the beat, and we practice drumming, and we dance and we sing, and we just—for an hour and a half we are able to forget all the craziness in the world, and we’re able to forget that he’s not in school and I’m not at work and we’re able to just have a blast with each other, and it’s something that I know that when this is over it’s something that I’m going to cherish for a long, long time.