Jun 192011

Happy Fathers’ Day, dads in the Hall! Kidz, be good to Pops, today. Feel free to share you rock ‘n roll father stories, on the giving or receiving end. Cheers to Pops Staples, Paul Weller’s dad, and all other dads who’ve supported their kids playing music. Moms who have to do it alone get props today, too!


  9 Responses to “Be Good to Pops”

  1. When I was about 14 or 15 I told my dad I was going to quit the football team so I could devote more time to the piano and our little garage band. He called me a pussy. Somehow it made me a better player. I guess it’s because I wanted to prove to him it was a worthwhile endeavor. I imagine most musicians have a moment of confrontation about their craft with their parents that defines their independence. that was mine.

    He came around and these days is proud as a peacock. I just got off the phone with him. He’s a good man, I love him.

  2. I reported a few months ago on my trips to Syracuse University to attend a couple of my daughter Kate’s Beatles classes. While there I realized something that relates to this thread.

    My formative musical memories and foundation were thanks to my dad. He loved vocalists like Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Jack Jones, and most especially Frank Sinatra. He was also into Pacific jazz, especially Chet Baker. And there were other like Roger Miller, Trini Lopez, Herb Alpert, Willie Bobo, and more.

    Back in 1974 I took a class in Jazz & Blues while at UPenn. I knew a bit about jazz thanks to dad and wanted to understand more. It turned out to be a great class.

    So while I was at Syracuse for the Beatles class, the symmetry 37 years later struck me. Kate was taking this class because I had played a lot of Beatles when she was so young.

    Thanks, Dad and thanks to Kate & Rebecca & Matt as well!

  3. And tying together this thread and the previous one, Douglas Springsteen must go down as a father with a big influence on rock & roll.

  4. Here’s an excert of something I’ve been working on concerning my dad and his role in my musical upbringing:

    The midsection of my family’s stereo console top flipped up to reveal a metal turntable, sunken, on springs. The knobs were big and black. They clicked into place just so. As the tubes warmed up the stereo gave off a pleasing hum and mild fire-hazard odor. When I was little and my Dad was still around he used to play me the Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” on that thing. It sounded great, and he’d get lost in the music the way he did only over one other song: “Mack the Knife.” Years later I’d begin to meet people who, disappointingly, told me they like “all kinds of music.” This usually signified the person’s lack of passion for music, and to this day, in the presence of some of the otherwise finest people people I know, I have to fight my prejudice that this denotes some moral lacking. Had I known him long enough I suspect my Dad would have revealed himself as one of those “all kinds of music” types, but his moral shortcomings ran much deeper than liking “all kinds of music” would have suggested. Much deeper. Trust me: in the 12 years that I knew him the only two pieces of music that moved him were the “1812 Overture” and Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife.”

    I don’t think I’ll ever know what made that guy tick and how those two songs might have explained it. He left me with such a small sample size compared with the musical tastes of most of the important people in my life. I do remember loving to listen to “1812 Overture” with him. The ending, with all those cymbals bashing and cannons firing off, gave me goosebumps. He would get psyched up in anticipation for this part too. He had, shall we say, an explosive side, and I think he got a charge out of the composition’s violent finale.

    My father was a bit of a history buff, and he’d fill me in on the historic significance of the War of 1812 while loading the record and during its quiet parts. I didn’t retain a spec of his history lesson, but looking back maybe our quarterly listening session with that lone Tchaikovsky record was his “guy” way of using music to help channel a more personal line of communication. It’s one of a handful of sweet memories I have of the man.

    His love for Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife,” on the other hand, was creepy. As a kid I couldn’t tell what that song was about, who this Mack character was, and why anyone cared that he was back in town. I couldn’t relate to the jazzy music and frequent modulations. My Dad knew every word of that song and sang along, in a trance. I don’t recall ever hearing him sing aloud except for that song. He used to hum and was quite a whistler, but only “Mack the Knife” inspired him to sing. Unlike “1812 Overture” he never tried to impart a history lesson or any other words of wisdom during that song. It was “his” song and his song alone. When the song was over I was free to find whatever song I liked on the radio dial.

    What was also weird, looking back on it, is that he never owned a copy of “Mack the Knife” or any other Bobby Darin record. He was content to hear it randomly, on the radio, while calmly driving, ideally on his beloved Route 1. That Tchaikovsky album may have been the only record he took with him when he moved out.

    One benefit of my father’s lack of passion for music was that he let me listen to whatever songs I wanted to when we were in his car. I could switch to any station, come to rest on any song, and he’d keep his eyes on the road, not seeming affected by the songs I wanted to hear, possibly not even aware that I was seated next to him, gabbing away as I’m sure I did. Too bad he didn’t stick around a few more years, long enough to drive me somewhere while I sought out punk rock songs on the dim signal from a college radio station. He wouldn’t have batted an eye if I’d landed on Pere Ubu’s “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” or X-Ray Specs’ “Oh Bondage, Up Yours.”

  5. ladymisskirroyale

    My Dad is the son of a musicologist so music was always in our house. Typically, my parents listened to Classical music, and my father always sung in a choral group (Bach, etc.). However, as I got older, I found my parents’ stash of albums from pre-kids: lots of folk, esp. protest songs. They didn’t buy a lot of music when we were kids, but both of my parents were very open to listening to whatever we had on the radio. I remember sharing Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” with my Dad when I was in high school – he probably doesn’t recall this but his current choral group just did a (crappy) rendition of it and he was very excited for me to hear it. When I was a teen, he would listen to what we were listening to on the radio (Arizona, early 80’s), inquire about the artist and then guess that it was The Human League. Everything was always The Human League. In college, he didn’t really like the music I was listening to (REM and such) and called it “jangle-y.” To this day, my brother, sister and I will joke around that “you need to turn that down, it’s too jangle-y.”

    However, regardless of our musical preferences, my father has always been supportive of my love of music.

  6. mockcarr

    My dad is a west coast jazz fan, Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Gerry Mulligan, and Chet Baker in particular, although there was a Stan Kenton album around that I would imagine was his. He never said much about it, but I know he made a buck here and there playing tenor sax in small groups when he was in college, and for a while I had his old tenor sax at my disposal, but he was dismissive of it, claiming the horn was injured in some mishap and had never played the same since then. I found his old clarinet nesting in my grandmother’s attic, probably unused for fifteen years, and there being a mandate for me to start taking music lessons in the third grade, the younger, just as lazy mockcarr went for the item at hand. It didn’t hurt that is was less cumbersome than just about any other wind instrument a boy could reasonably play. It did not, however, bring me Artie Shaw’s facility with the ladies, let me tell you, although I suppose seven divorces have meant more than seven marriages in that discussion.

    Both my parents liked Gilbert and Sullivan, and a fond memory of mine is my dad’s hammy turn as Dick Deadeye in the family church’s production of HMS Pinafore. I suppose the low vocals around the house led me down to the bass guitar, because I sure can’t sing lower than the usual baritone myself.

    Both my parents were pretty well versed in the classics and piano music, and liked Gilbert and Sullivan a lot. When I was small, they were involved in church choir (both had low voices, my dad is a bass and my mother’s an alto)

  7. mockcarr

    So much for editing. My dad also had a classic comment when I was playing him a tape of an album HVB and I had just completed, where I wrote a lot of the lyrics. He remarked, why does the music need words?

  8. More on my dad, prompted by a conversation with him last night.

    Dad’s 80 and still pulls out these music-related stories I’ve never heard. Last night’s involved seeing Monk at one of those defunct Philly clubs I can’t keep straight – the Showboat, the CR Club, the old Latin Casino. I hadn’t known he’d ever seen him.

    What a time that must have been. Dad has told stories of seeing Miles Davis (back to the audience), Ella (and buying her a drink at the bar and chatting with her after the show), Chet Baker, Bobby Darin, and so many others. And seeing Sinatra at whatever restaurant he and my mom, aunt and uncle were at prior to Frank’s show at the Latin Casino. And boldly calling him over to the table and explaining that my mom and aunt were “Siggy just like you Frank”.

    I guess a later equivalent would be saying you saw Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, James Taylor, etc. at the Main Point.

  9. My grandparents “partied” with Tony Bennett after a show one night at some old Philly club like that, maybe Palumbo’s.

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