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The Daily Tar Heel

Office DJ: Stealing my dad's music taste


DTH Graphic. City & State Editor Emmy Martin and her father in 2006.

I think my music taste is pretty good. 

But I can't take full credit for it. It's really my dad's. 

I've lost count of the number of times he's asked me, "Who's this?" while his hand covers the car radio displaying songs like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana and "Welcome To The Jungle" by Guns N' Roses. 

Every day on the way to elementary and middle school, he'd quiz me on artists as we listened to the '90s alt-rock station on the radio. We did that for years. Let's just say I can recognize Kurt Cobain's vocal fry from a mile away (rest in peace, legend). 

When I turned 16, got my diver's license and could drive myself to school, my dad and I's game came to an end.

Although I had full control of the aux as I drove to school, I didn't stray too far from The Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer or The Cranberries. I added The Backseat Lovers, Phoebe Bridgers and Lana Del Rey to the mix, too, though. Duh.  

I guess my music taste is a little bit of my dad and a little bit of me. 

I'm not 16 anymore. I'm not even a teenager. That's a weird thing to come to terms with. 

I opened a Roth IRA last week. I still feel like I'm a kid. 

I'm going to be living in a city I've never stepped foot in this summer. I still feel like I'm a kid. 

Even though I'm 20 now, sometimes it feels like I'm still only old enough to be "driving" the big tractor outside the State Farmers Market Restaurant in Raleigh. 

City & State Editor Emmy Martin sits on an antique tractor with her father outside of the State Farmers Market Restaurant in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2006. Photo courtesy of Emmy Martin.

I wonder if other college students ever feel like they're in a weird limbo between childhood and adulthood. Between dependence and independence? 

We enroll at a university like UNC as teenagers, but we leave as twenty-somethings. College marks the first time many students have full control of how they plan their day-to-day schedules, figure out how to not ruin their clothes in the laundry and cook their own dinner every night.

I live in a dorm, but my home is my parents' house. I still ask my parents for help when signing a lease or figuring out health insurance. But I do my own grocery shopping. 

It's a weird place to be. It's a good place to be. 

I'm grateful for my parents. I know my dad is always behind me, with one arm outstretched, ready to catch me if I fall. And I know it won't be like that forever. That makes it more special somehow. 

My dad hasn't driven me to school in a while. But he did pick me up from UNC's campus for spring break. When I hopped in the car, guess what was playing? Yep.

As he drove to a soundtrack of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Green Day, he asked me how to use Spotify. I excitedly explained the importance of a good playlist while he nodded thoughtfully. I think I've converted him. 

This playlist is for you, Dad. 

I'll know all of the lyrics to "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" by Cake for the rest of my life. You better know every song on this playlist — and be ready for a pop quiz.

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Emmy Martin

Emmy Martin is the 2023-24 editor-in-chief of The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as the DTH's city & state editor and summer managing editor. Emmy is a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and media and information science.