I spent Fathers’ Day studiously ignoring that it was Fathers’ Day, a habit many people with dysfunctional families can relate to. But, the older I get, the harder it is to be too hard on my parents- the memories I have of them from my childhood are rarely just nice, usually having at least a tinge of wrongness from one or both of them, but as a 30-something adult I know now how easy it is for life to develop in unexpected and potentially unpleasant directions even with the best of intentions. So, a day late, I changed my mind, and decided to post the playlist I put together a few days ago for Fathers’ Day. I still strongly dislike mine, but the idea of ‘father’ is still nice, and I’ve borrowed enough great fathers from my friends over the years to make up for my own. I included a few songs in the list this year that I grew up with, part of the music that my father introduced me to- while I tend to avoid the bands I associate with him (Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Asia, Three Dog Night, Kansas, Yes, the Who, etc.) my music lifestyle as an adult draws heavily from the music my dad introduced me to.
1. Hayley Westenra- Danny Boy- This song is from the point of view of a parent who is saying goodbye to their child who is sailing away from Ireland to live and work overseas. It is more of a Fathers’ Day song if the singer is male, I suppose, but this rendition is beautiful. Some of my earlier lists have other versions of this song sung by men, if you want a more fatherly singer for this song.
2. Alfie Boe- Bring Him Home- Jean Valjean is not Marius’ father in Les Mis, but he is like all those extra dads we meet, as much a father as any real one. In fact, Valjean is not Cosette’s father either, but he manages to be a very responsible parent to her for many years while running from the law.
3. Deer Tick, featuring Liz Isenberg- Unwed Fathers- There have always been fathers who run off and leave their partners pregnant, and there are a lot of babies born who will never have a father around. I strongly suspect that the relative irresponsibility and general immaturity of men stems in part from the fact that men can impregnate women and just run off to escape the responsibilities their actions created. The woman in these cases is of course left to deal with all those weighty choices about abortion, adoption and trying to raise a child in poverty and without adequate support, while society is all too happy to judge her harshly for every choice she makes.
4. Celtic Thunder, George Donaldson- Scarlet Ribbons
5. Patrick Dethlefs & Friends- Dads Song- Some people have really great dads, and I’ve borrowed theirs often enough.
6. Three Dog Night- Joy to the World- This was one of my favorite songs to sing along to on car trips.
7. Paul Simon- Kodachrome
8. Warrant- Heaven
9. Bette Midler- Wing Beneath My Wings
10. Foreigner- Long, Long Way From Home
11. Harry Chapin- Cat’s in the Cradle
12. Bob Dylan- Forever Young
13. Electric Light Orchestra- Don’t Bring Me Down- Not one of my favorite ELO songs, but it’s catchy and was one my dad liked.
14. Heart- Misty Mountain Hop
15. Otis Redding- [Sittin’ On] The Dock Of the Bay- Here’s another of the tunes I loved singing along with as a kid. I’ve known all the worlds to this one since elementary school.
16. Rod Stewart- Downtown Train- One of my dad’s favorite songs. My dad had long blond hair and looked enough like Rod Stewart that people would stop him thinking he was Rod Stewart and ask for his autograph a lot when he was traveling.
17. The Animals- House of the Rising Sun- My mom mentioned once that this one might not be appropriate for kids, but I already knew all the words by then, even if I didn’t quite understand what it was about.
18. Austin and Elliot- Rocking the Cradle
19. Dan Tyminski- The One You Lean On
20. Was (Not Was)- Papa Was a Rolling Stone
Yeah, I guess I should be at least grateful to my dad for the music he exposed me to. Had I grown up with just my mom, I’d have been stuck with just her music to grow up to- Kenny Rogers, Alabama and the Righteous Brothers. Thanks Dad.