Monday, November 11, 2013
My Dad & Music: A Tribute
Today, in honor of Veteran's Day, I thought it would be fitting to chat with my dad who served in the Air Force as a loadmaster in Vietnam, about music. My dad, who's in his early seventies, has always been into music and is particularly knowledgable about the music he and his buddies used to listen to while in the service and then after that in college. Soul music was his go-to back then - artists like Sam & Dave, Aretha Franklin, and Ray Charles. That said, he would listen to anything he could get his hands on...classical, folk, rock and roll, you name it, he played it. When he was on base in Dover, DE, he had a little record player in his dorm and, he told me, he would listen to music all the time.
--> It was a very important source of entertainment for me. Guys were flying out on a daily basis so it could often be fairly lonely back on base. The music made daily life more pleasant. There wasn't a lot of really good music in the barracks and not a lot of guys had music players so many of them would wander into my room to hang out and listen. In that way, it brought us together.
Once he got to Vietnam, the world of music changed for him. Tape players and stereos were accessible to everyone. As a result music was literally pouring out of everything.
--> We lived in screened in huts and had zero privacy. If someone else was playing their music, you were listening to it. You didn't have a choice. The guys played Brenda Lee to death. I liked her at the start, but by the end, I couldn't stand it. Music played non-stop to the point where it was just too much. I lost my appreciation for it when I was over there.
When he got home, his love of music slowly came back. He played it in college and in grad school and listened to anything from James Taylor to Willie Nelson to Janis Joplin. But, once he started working as a management consultant, he couldn't keep up with it as much. He wasn't around music they way he used to be and the people he worked with weren't into it either.
I didn't have time for music when I started working. So, I tapped into what you and your sister were listening to. Courtney (my sister), in particular, got me into some of the bands that I still love today. The Allman Brothers, Little Feat, Jimmy Buffett, I loved that stuff and I still do. You guys sort of kept me in the loop.
When I was a teenager, my dad and sister and I used to make trips to the music store together; him often spending time in the classical and country sections while my sister and I were at the other end of the store seeking out Duran Duran and The Cure. Those were fun trips. It didn't matter that our music tastes were different. On a higher level, we all were there for the same reason, because we loved music, and that was really cool. When I was in high school, my dad sat down with me and played The Moldau, a classical piece composed by Bedrich Smetana, about a great river in Bohemia. He told me the story as I closed my eyes and tried to hear what he was describing. It was unbelievably moving; both the music and the moment, and spurred my own love of classical music. Today, dad's not as into music as he used to be. He typically listens to the classical stations on the radio because he "can trust it." Basically, he knows he's likely to hear something that he enjoys. That said, he's more than happy to sit down with me or my husband and listen to an entire album, The White Album by the Beatles, for example, from start to finish. He's got an open mind about what he hears now, particularly the new stuff that we play for him like The Be Good Tanyas and Aimee Mann (we don't bother with Radiohead or The Yeah Yeah Yeahs...definitely not his thing). What's great, though, is that we can still connect over music and that he does like to dive in from time to time. I've listened to a lot of good music over the years, he told me this morning, lots of good stuff. And I still enjoy it. All of it. Me too, dad. Rock on.
Listen to these: A Playlist by Walter Jewett
Monday, Monday - The Mamas & the Papas
Light My Fire - The Doors
Hold On, Im Comin' - Sam & Dave
Jessica - The Allman Brothers Band
Rhiannon - Fleetwood Mac
Night moves - Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
She Came In Through the Bathroom Window - Joe Cocker
Me and Bobby McGee - Janis Joplin
Sailing to Philadelphia - Mark Knoplfer