Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fathers and Fatherhood: Daddy's Working Boots

Dolly Parton: Daddy's Working Boots


A perfect example of a good old Christian country song: an affectionate celebration of the working man, told through a focus on the trappings of the blue-collar life and the ways in which work itself can be a kind of love, complete with a confident plea for Daddy's heavenly reward. First released way back in '73, Dolly's young voice is sweet and clear, and the choir of angels that joins her for the final verse is a perfect touch.

Fathers and Fatherhood: The Memories and Legacy Edition

Michael Smith: I Brought My Father with Me

[purchase] on the Time CD

Catie Curtis: Dad's Yard


Todd Snider: Missing You


I am still in the small town of Flowery Branch, Georgia - what was to be a two-week visit (from my home in Florida) with my mom has turned indefinite. We have begun home hospice, and I have chosen to be the primary caregiver - we are taking this One Day At a Time... the process could be days/weeks/months... and I am exactly where I need to be...

I am reminded of how different this is from my father's passing, almost 14 years ago... on my 19th wedding anniversary – I had not spoken to him in the 3 years before his death because he had chosen to take his life in a direction I did not wish to follow. I felt no guilt about our diverging paths, only regret that there was a finality to whatever possibilities I may have envisioned for our future - on the day after his memorial service, as my mother, brother, sister and I drove up to Anna Ruby Falls to scatter his ashes, we took turns telling stories of our interactions with him over the years... and it was like putting together the pieces of a puzzle, as we all had such different, and sometimes conflicting, memories to share.

My father is so much in me: my love of music, my affinity for the written word and my appreciation of humor, especially a good pun - on the dark side, I have also inherited his qualities of perfectionism which leads to procrastination which leads to paralysis.

My time, energy and music collection are limited these days... but my memories are boundless and my legacy is dear - thanks to Michael, Catie and Todd for sharing theirs with us...

Fathers and fatherhood : Song for my father

Horace Silver Quintet: - Song For My Father


Me and my father don't talk much, or hardly at all, but he has a great blues and jazz records collection - along with the complete discography of French folk poet and singer Georges Brassens. I usually give him Cds and compilations for his birthday or for Christmas, and he looks happy.
So I guess the best song I could choose for a Father's day is a song without words. Steely Dan fans will recognize the first bars of "Ricky Don't Lose that Number".

Now I gotta go, because my 18-month old son is coming with a book he wants me to read for him.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fathers and Fatherhood: My Father’s Piano

Kristina Olsen: My Father‘s Piano


Sometimes you don’t learn to appreciate a father until after he is gone. The narrator of My Father’s Piano has that piano to remember her father by. And it represents all of his best qualities in her memory of him. I put this song in a mix of songs I made for me and my wife, which I called Bittersweet. These are songs of warm nostalgia, tinged with regret for those which are gone forever. There are many songs like this, but it is the mark of a great songwriter to capture these conflicting emotions well. Kristina Olsen has done that here.

My first acquaintance with Kristina Olsen was at a small folk and folk dance festival held outside of Boston. (Hey, Boyhowdy, ever heard of NEFFA?) She presented a workshop on unusual musical instruments from Victorian England. Olsen had several of these with her, and could play all of them.

Fathers and Fatherhood: Take Her in Your Arms

Andy M Stewart and Manus Lunny: Take Her in Your Arms


Songwriters as a group seem to have uneasy relationships with their fathers. To start with, there simply are far more songs about mothers. But, beyond that, do you want to give your father a mix for Father’s Day that includes a classic about how he never had enough time for his son, (Cat’s in the Cradle)? Or how he wasn’t there at all, (Papa Was a Rolling Stone)? You see the difficulty.

Even Take Her in Your Arms is not a thank you for a father’s good advice. Rather it is a comic portrait of a lovesick young man who should have asked his father’s advice, but never did.

When you hear about Celtic folk music, you usually hear about how wonderful Irish music is. And it is. But the Scots more than hold their own. Andy M Stewart and Manus Lunny were in the “Scottish Supergroup” Silly Wizard. Since then, they have continued to produce fine work, both as solo artists and as a duo.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fathers and Fatherhood: Father and Daughter

Paul Simon: Father and Daughter


This one triggers a specific memory for me.

First, let me say that I am one of those people who hates sing-alongs. I always feel that I’m going to get it wrong. So I don’t sing.

But when my wife and I took my daughter to see The Wild Thornberry Movie in the theater, something came over me. When the story is over, a song plays while the end titles roll. In The Wild Thornberry Movie, that song is Paul Simon’s Father and Daughter. In the theater, I was hearing it for the first time. By the time the chorus repeated for the first time, I had turned to my daughter, and was singing it to her. The magic carried through to the end of the song and a little beyond. That moment is now my reminder, if I ever need it, of just how much I love my daughter. The years that have passed since then have not changed that.

Bonus trivia fact: Nigel Thornberry was voiced, in the movie and on television, by Tim Curry.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fathers and fatherhood : Adam Raised A Cain

Bruce Springsteen: Adam Raised A Cain


Well, it's not exactly an ideal song for a Father's day mix, but I really can't come up with songs about peaceful father to son relationships. Or let us say that my favorite songs about fathers deal with opposive daddies, sometimes even physically ("A Boy Named Sue"), or imaginary and fantasized ones ("Papa Was A Rolling Stone").

That's probably one of the reasons why Bruce is my favorite singer. Fatherhood is a recurrent theme in his songs, going from the anger of "Adam" or "Independance Day" to a more peaceful feeling in "Walk Like A Man". But I really prefer the angry Boss of Darkness or Nebraska, when he sings about having a father rather than being one.

Fathers and Fatherhood: Dad

K's Choice: Dad


It seems like every other week we get a theme that a song by K's Choice would be good for. I have decided to choose other selections for some of those since I don't want it to be a glut of them, or to make it sound like I'm obsessed with them. Simply put, it's been very coincidental that the themes match up with their songs.

But I have held back long enough, this song is too good a fit not to post. "Dad" is a simple piano ballad sung as if written as a present to their own father (the group's songwriters are a brother and sister duo). But what is great about it is that though it's mostly a very sweet and sappy ballad, it's got enough realness to keep it sounding intimate and personal. It's really beautiful and touching, and a must-have for any Father's Day mix if you ask me.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Fathers and Fatherhood: Daddy, What’s a Train?

Utah Phillips: Daddy, What‘s a Train?


I wasn’t expecting to get to post the transitional tune this week, but here it is.

I am 43 years older than my son, (now 5). So I grew up on another planet. This was a world where TV signals came through the air, and were caught by something called an antenna. After a storm or a windy day, my father would go up on the roof, and turn the antenna back to its optimal position. A computer was a machine that took up an entire room, and only institutional users had them.

And, in the next town over, there was a railroad track. I always felt lucky when we happened to go through that town as one of those impossibly long freight trains came through.

A few years ago. they shut down that line. They pulled up the tracks, they even took out all of the railroad trestles. Now, if you didn’t know where the tracks used to be, you could never tell. Going back before my time, I imagine this happened a lot. Air freight came in, and it must have seemed like all freight shipping by train would become a thing of the past. And that would be around the time that Utah Phillips wrote this song.