8 Musicians I Love Because Of My Dad, Who Taught Me How To Always Rock Out
As children, our young minds are influenced by those around us. It just so happens that around that age, we're not around many people other than our school friends, the hosts of Nickelodeon game shows, and of course, Mom and Dad. When you're in second or third grade, your knowledge of music is more or less party songs, theme songs, songs you hear on some kind of Sunday morning radio countdown, and songs by classic musicians your parents like. In short, when "Monster Mash" is your jam, you know you're a well adjusted elementary school student.
Thanks to my dad, the music I was exposed to (and learned to love) led to a pretty intriguing path for me. I got my first CD player back in third grade, and formed my own collection based on what pleased me outside the norm. Movie soundtracks from the 90s were like my first mixed CDs, before burners and MP3s even existed. I knew about the battle between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones (since "you either liked one or the other, back in the day" according to my dad), and wasn't punished for watching MTV, even when "questionable" music videos aired. A lot of these influences came from my sister, but both of us — without a doubt — were influenced by knowledge we gained from Dad. In turn, my sister was able to review bands and albums as a part of her career, and I was able to connect with perhaps the greatest people I've ever met by participating in my college radio station throughout college. All of us station-folk came from backgrounds where music helped us survive high school, and we identified with each other based on our mutual love of rock.
My dad's love of music actually expanded in the last few years — due to his hobby of collecting used CDs, he frequently scours the store to reconnect with the music he claims to have "missed out on" during the 70s. Even if they were one-hit wonders, my dad does his best to become familiar with their entire catalog. This pastime is pretty darn cool, if I must say so myself. To this day, he gets a kick out of introducing me to artists who I never would have stumbled upon otherwise — plus, his own favorite genres have expanded into soul, folk, and even the blues. Most people don't have the time to discover new artists after their 30s, but my dad proves that taste can change and grow, even when you're (legally) a senior citizen.
Here are just a few amazing artists throughout the years that I discovered all thanks to Dad, alongside my ultimate favorite songs they've sang.
1. Cat Stevens
When I learned about how Cat Stevens became Yusuf Islam, my world was rocked — probably since young-me wasn't even aware of the fact that people could change their name. That, or the fact that his amazing voice made me feel like he was a great, personal friend of mine. Regardless of his conversion, one thing will never change — his voice and his music will always be so calming, so timeless, and the perfect soundtrack to childhood. When I was planning my wedding, I realized that "Wild World" could be used pretty much anywhere. First dance with my husband? Sure! Cake cutting? Why not! It's versatile!
Regardless, I chose "The Wind" to showcase today, because I think it's such a classic.
2. James Taylor
Speaking of calming voices, let's move towards James Taylor. I remember waking up to James singing peacefully from downstairs. Our household carries sound through pipes, and one pipe was located right by the head of my bed, so I didn't have much of a choice otherwise. Granted, I'd rather wake up to James than the sound of an alarm any day.
3. The Rolling Stones
Remember what I said above, about my dad claiming you "could only like one"? Imagine my surprise, when my dad — the ultimate Beatles fan — started blasting songs by The Rolling Stones. In my generation, it was kind of like seeing a hardcore BSB fan memorizing the dance to 'N Sync's "Bye Bye Bye." I'm glad that my dad revealed his true colors, since otherwise, I'd have missed out on so many classic Stones songs. The one above, "She's A Rainbow," played immediately after I walked back up the aisle after my wedding ceremony. It just makes me want to celebrate life.
4. Donna Summer
"Man, Donna Summer created a scandalous and sexy song back in the day," my dad said, after buying her Greatest Hits. "It was a BIG DEAL. I mean, the moaning?"
Yeah, it's not a topic I wanted to discuss more openly. Nor did I want to be in the car with him while "Love To Love You Baby" was spinning in the CD player. It happened, I survived, and it was an uncomfortable moment of silence that he and I dealt with. Turning it off would have just made the moment more awkward, and would be pretty disrespectful for Donna. I mean, she's an incredible singer.
That being said, I chose "Bad Girls." Beep beep!
5. Simon & Garfunkel
I am in love with both Simon and Garfunkel. I supported Simon's "You Can Call Me Al" single, and Garfunkel's, uh.. hair. Obviously they shine more brightly together.
I actually stole a copy of 1970's "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" from my parents while I was growing up, and I'm shocked I didn't wear down the CD. After admitting my guilt to my dad years later, his response was "Keep it! I have like, three versions of that album on other formats, and all of their Greatest Hits. In fact, take more of my Simon & Garfunkel albums. Please."
Picking just one Simon & Garfunkel song is difficult, but I had to give it up to "Only Living Boy In New York," which my dad told me was written by Simon for Garfunkel. Garfunkel went to Mexico for a film, leaving Simon alone in the city. Isn't that insanely sweet?
6. Van Morrison
My dad was on a big Van Morrison kick recently, and asked me if I was familiar with him. "Uh, he did 'Brown Eyed Girl,' right?" "Correct!" my dad said, proudly. "But he also did like, a million other songs you probably forgot about."
Then his copy of the Greatest Hits album came out of his massive stack of CDs, and next thing I know, my ears are being drowned out by legit hits. This song, "Everyone," I recognized from The Royal Tenenbaums almost immediately. Lesson learned: Van Morrison was way bigger than you thought.
7. Crosby, Stills, & Nash
... And Young too, I guess. Neil Young was part of that group when he felt like it. "I didn't really care for Young while he was in the group," my dad said. "No offense to him, or anything. I just prefer Crosby, Stills, & Nash together."
CSN was pretty much a supergroup, as all three musicians formed from other bands — David Crosby was involved with The Byrds, Stephen Stills worked with Buffalo Springfield, and Graham Nash was part of The Hollies. If you asked me what my dad's ultimate favorite band was back when I was a teenager, I'd tell you it was CSN, hands down. He definitely went through a big phase during those formative years.
I chose "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" solely for the line "I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are, and you make it hard." Despite not actually having a boyfriend in high school, I kind of imagined that this lyric would have been appropriate if I had.
8. The Kinks
When my dad felt like letting loose, he'd blast The Kinks. Since The Kinks are excellent, I had no issues with this whatsoever.
My dad often told me the story about how, back in the day, he took my mom on a date to a Kinks concert. Opening for them was a band that they claimed "would never make it!" Hilariously enough, that nothing band turned out to be Aerosmith.
Growing up appreciating The Kinks is something I'm grateful for, since they are a band that has influenced many, from The Ramones to Oasis. Just think — we might have never had "Wonderwall" if it wasn't for The Kinks.
Do you really want to live in that kind of world?
Images: Emily P./Flickr