What My Father Taught Me About Music

In lieu of your usual Sunday dose of b-sides, I’m giving a shout-out to my dad on this glorious Father’s Day! I’ve often thought about how it is that I got so into music. It’s always been a big part of my life and between my parents, I’d like to think I was pretty nicely educated where music is concerned growing up. I listened to a lot of Motown when I was little, and when I got older it was always Creedence Clearwater Revival or James Taylor. That’s a fairly solid trifecta to grow up on.

My dad was sort of the secret musician in the house. He has great taste and a good attitude about music, and I’m really hoping those are traits I’ve picked up. So throughout my life, here are the things my father taught me about music.

1. Play first, explain later.

My dad plays a mean guitar. Maybe it’s just because I’m stunningly mediocre at guitar, but I’ve always thought my dad was an amazing player. What he would often do (and still does from time to time) is pull out his guitar late one evening without saying a word and just play. He had about four or five songs he would play in a row and when he was done he’d put his guitar away and say nothing. He never needed an excuse, never needed to explain himself, he just did it. Which I always thought was so cool.

2. Be an attentive listener.

My dad’s vinyl collection is really impressive, to tell the truth. I went through it over winter break and found some gems. And it seems that today what with Pandora and Spotify radio and all of these automated music stations that are made to suit your taste, nobody’s really listening anymore. At least, not with the care and attention they used to. My dad’s collection is relatively small (at least compared with what I hear about these days) but he knows every album really well. The sleeves are worn out and his name is scribbled on each of them. They’ve been sincerely listened to, which is a skill music lovers really need to work to gain these days.

3. It’s okay to sing along to just about anything.

My dad’s got a pretty good voice, but it wasn’t until I came home to find him singing Kelly Clarkson songs while cooking dinner that I realized just how little he cares about looking cool all the time. And that’s pretty awesome.

4. Be humble.

It’s odd to think that humility and music listening go hand in hand, but I have found that they do. There are so many music lovers out there just dying to impress people with their extensive vinyl collection or their ear for upcoming bands or the number of concerts they went to in a month. When it comes to music, my dad doesn’t brag about all the cool bands he saw when he was in college, or all the records he owned, because that’s not the part that matters. Music is a shared experience, it’s not a game of one-upping each other. So when it comes to being the listener, there should be no ego involved. That just doesn’t make sense.

So happy Father’s Day to all the rockin’ dads out there!

Shout out your favorite musical moments with your dad in the comments below. We’d love to hear your stories!

1 Comment

  1. erik

    June 20, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    A wonderful tribute to Dads everywhere. Thanks from Dad.

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