A Father’s Day Playlist

When I was little, I knew it was Saturday morning because I’d wake up to the sound of my dad’s music playing downstairs. It was one of the happiest sounds I knew. He worked nights and he worked really hard and Saturdays were important to him. I don’t think about this very often, but I did notice the other day that I’ve put a lot of things into my itunes library that I’d never have put there if I hadn’t been born into the particular family I am part of.

My dad’s from Texas, so you hear that part of the country in a lot of these songs. And even though you’d never guess this, he’s a teensy bit sentimental, even for a guy whose formative years were spent in the military. 

The playlist is beneath the fold:

— Nilsson: Everybody’s Talkin’
This song is from the soundtrack to Midnight Cowboy. It’s a great song of freedom and liberation and sadness.

–Glen Campbell: By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Homeward Bound, Wichita Lineman, Galveston, Gentle on My Mind, Reason to Believe
These are all great Glen Campbell songs, every one of which reminds me of my dad, who loved handsome guys who made singing seem effortless. That most of those guys are from the south just goes without saying.

–Marty Robbins: El Paso
El Paso is one of the great cowboy ballads. It’s opening line, “Out in the West Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with a Mexican girl” never fails to make me hope that this time, the singer won’t shoot the guy in the bar and have to leave his girl behind. One of my brothers lives in El Paso. There’s a little shrine in the airport dedicated to Marty Robbins, which is fitting because this is the kind of song you never forget if you hear it when you’re a kid.

–The Kingston Trio: Tom Dooley, Greenback Dollar
More men with smooth voices. We had a great record of Kingston Trio songs — Tom Dooley, Greenback Dollar among them. (“I don’t give a damn about a greenback dollar” would resonate through our house on Saturdays. Every one of us knew this meant something about how your job didn’t own you.)

–Elvis: Can’t Help Falling in Love, Suspicious Minds
We went to a lot of Elvis movies when I was a kid. The original man with a smooth voice.

–Johnny Rivers: The Poor Side of Town and Baby, I Need your Lovin’ — and The Tracks of My Tears
A working guy, and also very cool. Did I mention smooth?

–Neil Diamond: Play Me
The smoothest, coolest, most emotional guy who was not from the South.

–Peggy Lee: Is That All There Is?
The only woman I can think of we listened to. And that’s because, you guessed it, she has the smoothest, coolest voice ever.

There were more, and I’m sure my four siblings can fill in those blanks. I’ll only add that I do remember a scary and most unfortunate Gilbert & Sullivan period, but by then I was a teenager and listening to Earth, Wind & Fire on the radio in my room and barely registered the Pirates of Penzance.


5 thoughts on “A Father’s Day Playlist

  1. I was away when Dad went through his Pirates of Penzance period.

    Let's see.. you were just a baby when Dad went through the Russian phase.

    Show tunes were popular. I remember hearing songs from My Fair Lady, The King and Camelot.

    Do you remember the big reel to reel tapes?

    Dad's Kingston trio music made it into the songs I sing to my grandkids. My kids too, but the little ones are more recent. 🙂

    I aways hated country music until my divorce from Mike. Then I started listening to mostly women CW singers like Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Kathy Mattea, etc.

    But I've got Marty, Glenn and Johnny on my iTunes. As well as Johnny Cash.

    But my favorites were James Taylor and Neil Diamond. One of my fist purchases on iTunes was a Neil Diamond flood of songs. I still play him at times.

    Also – Simon and Garfunkel, Moody Blues.

    My first album purchase was Led Zepplin II.

    We went to a lot of movies period when we were kids. You couldn't beat the price of a 15 cent movie and 10 cent popcorn. We went every Saturday in Bindlach. We also did in Hof and most of the time in Fort Meade. I remember Dad making us choose between movies on base or a TV. We chose movies. (At least in 1971-72.)

    Dad also has a lot of salsa music and the like. Along with a bunch of classical stuff.

    Do you remember Mom listening to anything? I don't.

  2. My mom liked to listen to country music on AM radio but my dad hated it. My dad liked Ella Fitzgerald and my mom hated her because she doesn’t when people trill their voices around too much (You need to stay with the tune – no fooling around with the melody!).

    I remember a listening to a lot of Big Band music when I was young, which I absolutely loved, and still do. I hated the country music for quite awhile, not even realizing later, in college, that what I was listening to and loving (Linda Ronstadt, Grateful Dead, Eagles, etc.) all had strong country roots. I am now a diehard country (old-style) and bluegrass fan.

    My dad’s saying about everything anyone listens to that isn’t of the Big Band era: “You like that better than music?”

  3. I can’t say I have given this much thought. I do know that I have always had a love for music and spent a good deal of time learning to play the guitar and to this day still write songs. What I have found is I really like “minor” chord progressions. Your typical song has a 1-4-5 progression and is in a major key (most songs we hear on the radio have this root–most pronounced in Blues but adapted to Rock). Dad didn’t play much of this music and I credit Susan for my introduction into this world. And for the record, Susan had great taste in music.
    What I do remember is Dad was very fond of Latin based music (minor chords). While I can not name any of the artist or groups, to this day I place my love for this music with those Saturday (and more Sunday while we were away at church) times where Dad had the house to himself and we would come home to find the music filling the house and Dad cooking beans of all things (must be his Texas roots) in the kitchen. What I have also come to realize is my fondness of this style of music may be in large part more associated with seeing Dad smile and memories of what that was like as a child more so than the music itself. Dad loved music. We loved Dad—-hard not to grow up with a love for music.

  4. Hey, Tom — remember my lime green LP? I think it had Janis Joplin on it. 🙂

    I talked to Mom today about what kinds of music she listened to — her answer was "whatever Dad was listening to."

    I do remember her music to exercise to. I used to tease her about the BeeGees. This would have been around 1988 or so.

    I envy your ability to play the guitar and write music.

    Dad still cooks beans. I'll bet when the parents come for your birthday he'll make you some. 🙂

    OK, that's three of us.. now we need to hear from Ed and Mike.

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