Archive | November, 2017

Music and My Dad

24 Nov

My dad used to sing to me, folk songs he knew. “Deep and wide, deep and wide, there’s a river flowing deep and wide”. He used to sit me on his lap and bounce me up and down and sing, “Pony boy, pony boy take me for a ride. Don’t say no, don’t say no, take me for a ride”. But my favorite song was a nonsense song, “Midnight on the Ocean”, where a “barefoot boy with shoes on, stood sitting in the grass”.

I never realized how much my dad influenced my love of music until he was gone. He was always listened to the oldies station, 105.7 in the car, and I hated it. But at home, we’d listen to cassette tapes, records, even 8 tracks and that’s how I was introduced to the world of Motown. 50s music was his favorite, but he also liked to listen to bagpipe music, dulcimer music, and I think I remember Tchaikovsky. He sang tenor in the church choir, and his favorite hymn was “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”

He even had the Hotel California album and Staying Alive soundtrack, which I’d listen to religiously, and later stole as my own. I remember being excited when he somehow acquired 2 cases of 45’s, and I listed to each and every one, picking out my favorites. Later, when I started buying my own music, vinyl was going out of style, but I still journeyed to local music store, Vinyl Discoveries, to find records. I came across The Cars, “Drive”, which he said was one of his favorite songs, and we danced to it in my bedroom. This later became the father/daughter dance song at my wedding, a memory I will always cherish.

When I was 13, he and my mom took my friends and me to our first concert, Depeche Mode/OMD. Several others were to follow shortly after, and though he didn’t have a lot of money, he was cool enough to drive us to Merriweather and drop us off for the PIL/Nitzer Ebb/Sugar Cubes concert, and another time to Fairfax, VA for my first Lollapalooza.  Another time, he embarrassed me at a Fugazi show, by coming in to the club early to pick me up. I think he just wanted to see what the fuss was about. He cared about the things I cared about.

He always shared his love of music with me, so I shared mine with him. When Jane’s Addiction came out with their “Ritual de lo Habitual” album, he listened patiently as I read him the liner notes, an open letter “To the Mosquitoes”, about the bloodsucking government. He listened when I read him the lyrics to “Winter”, by Tori Amos, which reminded me of him. Whenever I found new music I wanted to share, he listened without question, no matter if it was Sex Pistols or Sinead O’ Connor. When I was in my 20’s, I started going to a blues jam, at the Full Moon Saloon. There was a singer there, who I really wanted him to see. So he and my mom came with me, drank some rum and Cokes, and shared this experience with me.

Nowadays, my taste in music is diverse, and I have him to thank for that. But as I wrote this, I realized that’s not what this post is really about; it’s about who he was to me as a person. He listened. He shared with me. He cared about the things I cared about. And I miss that.