From the Basement

June 5, 2010

Daddy’s Songs

These are Daddy’s songs. They’re songs about Daddy, songs I associate with Daddy, songs that will always be his. I realize that this would be a great post to save for Father’s Day, but patience is not one of my virtues. I’m workin’ on that.

You Learn – Alanis Morisette

My memory of Daddy and this song is driving along that backway highway we’d take home from Waterloo, driving back from the Blacks building where Daddy had his office, my 8-year-old self belting out I recommend walkin’ around naked in your living ro-oo-oom while Daddy chuckled.

My dad loved (loves) Alanis’s Jagged Little Pill album. There’s this strange dichotomy to his musical taste: on the one hand, he loves classic rock. He was literally there for the KISS concerts, the mania surrounding the Rolling Stones and all those other bands. My sister inherited those genetics; she’s not even 20-years-old and knows more about classic rock than most Baby Boomers. (She also has a mildly dangerous obsession with Bruce Springsteen.)

On the other hand, though, my dad loves Alanis Morisette, Natalie Merchant, Pat Benatar, Amy MacDonald, the Indigo Girls, Jewel. Alternative female rockers, singer/songwriters. That’s the gene I got. And I think that the JLP album started it all.

On a side note,. I re-discovered JLP in Dad’s collection as a 14 or 15-year-old, and was totally shocked when I listened to “You Oughta Know.” It was then when I realized that Dad did indeed censor the music he let his girls listen to.

My Own Prison – Creed

The last time my boyfriend and I were driving back from his parents’ house, we were listening to Creed (the compromise between my alternative singer/songwriters and his heavy metal). When this song finished playing, he asked me why exactly it’s my favorite Creed song, since even with the biblical imagery, it’s pretty dark. And it’s true – friends who know me would not think this was one of my favorite songs.

It’s simple, really– it’s Daddy’s song. This is one of his favorite Creed tracks, and even though it applies a lot more to him than it does to me, it’s become one of mine.

Omaha – Counting Crows

August & Everything After is an album that I’ve reclaimed from my childhood in that it has a place in my present, not only in my past. But this song – Omaha – always takes me back to our years in Iowa, a time when there was fried chicken for lunch every Sunday, when I didn’t know how hard my parents had it. We lived on an acreage that butted up against a narrow highway no one took if they could help it. There were beautiful sunsets over the corn and soybean fields every night, and even though this song is named after a city in Nebraska, the texture of it, for me, is all Iowa.

Hammer Down – Ted Nugent

This was our before-bed song growing up. Daddy changed the lyrics to be: jammies jammies jammies, jammies on! Jammies on! Jammies on! – And so my younger sister and I would race as fast as we could to get our jammies on.

Time of Your Life – Green Day

August 1998. I can’t remember which day. We were driving back home after going to the Iowa State Fair when we got the call from my dad’s sister that my grandpa had died. At that point in my life, I’d never seen my dad cry like that. Mom volunteered to drive. He refused. And he drove us all the way home, the grief palpable even to two little girls in the backseat who didn’t really know about death and dying.

This was the song that was playing on the radio when we got the call.

Hotel California – Eagles

So this is a song that rock radio stations feels compelled to play at least six times a day. It annoys the shit out of me, because people, it’s been over thirty years.

That aside.

I am listing this song because Dad loves the drum solo and every time we listen to it we’re either in his work vehicle or in the kitchen drinking beer. And he does the drum solo with his hands no matter where we are. Most people love the guitar riff which, while awesome, has nothing on Don Henley. Doing the Hotel California drum solo in the car is an art, one which I am slowly perfecting.

People Are Crazy – Billy Currington

This is a country song, but Dad loves it and recently informed me (and my boyfriend, and one of my best friends, and anyone else who visits him) that he wants it played at his funeral. The chorus is pretty much his life philosophy: God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy. … Yup.

Sweet Suzanne – John Mellencamp, et al.

This song is from the soundtrack to the film Falling From Grace, a terrible movie (I’ve heard) which got virtually no attention. It was only by chance that Dad heard a song from the soundtrack, and he fell in love with it. This song was our dancing song – his, my sister’s, mine. We’d twirl and twirl and twirl to it. “I just wanted to say goodnight, Suzanne/I just wanted to say good night/I just wanted to see if everything’s all right/I just wanted to say goodnight, Suzanne.”

The one thing I always knew about my wedding (if I had one), was that at the reception (if I had one), this would be the father/daughter dance.

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