Friday, June 17, 2011

Dad rock

I heard a story on NPR driving home this afternoon about what songs our dads were listening to when they were our age. I haven't asked my dad what his favorite might have been in his forties, but judging from my memory of long commutes listening to Luther Masingill on WDEF -- master of the news, traffic, and MOR pop format -- it was probably Anne Murray's "You Needed Me."

My dad loved the adult contemporary female singers -- all the better if they had a country streak (though I never knew him to listen to country music per se). Olivia Newton-John hit a chord, as I recall; Barbara Mandrell was one of his idols. When he and mom went to Vegas for a convention and he got to see Mandrell in concert, he seemed genuinely thrilled. (Naturally as a teetotaller and non-gambler, the shows were the main attraction of Sin City, and he forgave them if they went a little blue.)

I've written before, but probably can never write enough, about how important my dad has been in my life. He taught me optimism and loyalty, two principles that form the bedrock of the approach I try to take to my life. He and I don't see eye to eye on many matters of ideology, but he's always been sincere in his beliefs, never an opportunist or a reactionary, and that I deeply admire. Reading his devotional blog, I recognize his honest search for truth, although we start from quite different premises.

And the way that our world views overlap like the halves of a stereoscopic image, slightly different angles that add up to the same fundamental values, describes the music we listened to as well. I grew to love the version of pop that my dad responded to, even though my teenage ears yearned at the time for something harsher, younger, and (I thought) more authentic. It was at least secular, concerned with feelings I recognized as the hallmarks of adulthood (love in all its manifestations and results, good and bad); it was a closer cousin to the pop and rock my friends and older siblings sent my way than the hymns on the local Moody Bible Institute affiliate favored by my mother. Sharing it even without comment felt like a point of agreement.

It was always that way with my dad. What we shared was more important than what separated us, and listening ears were always open. Happy Father's Day, Dad.

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