I’m listening to “Ventura Highway” on my headphones right now. Remember that old song? By the band America. It’s easy listening, 70’s style. It’s a pleasant enough way to start the day, but it’s the next song I really want to listen to. “A Horse With No Name”.
At this point, I understand the majority of you will be slowly sipping your coffee and wondering, “What the hell?” Well quite simply, it’s Father’s Day, sillies. And “A Horse With No Name” to me means Dad.
We used to have this large room that had a terrible green shag rug in it for a few years before it was finally stripped out. Dad had a stereo set up at one end. And when I say “stereo”, I don’t mean these modern teeny iPods sitting on a three inch speaker dock. I mean old school stereo, with the multi media receptacles you’d actually have to physically load with a tape or record, and enormous speakers connected with the pimp-tastic, gold-flecked wires. Nothing was digital. There were no downloads yet. Real music from a real stereo.
He loved music. Loved it. He’d sit in front of the stereo on the floor flanked by his speaker sentinels and close his eyes and bop his hands in the air to the tunes. And he never played music we’d expect, either. He had tastes all over the board, from Madonna to Burl Ives (You younger ones, better google Burl Ives. You even younger ones, I suppose you best go on and google Madonna as well.) and everything in between. He was a very mood-driven musical connoisseur. If he was feeling good, he’d bop around the house singing our favorites from modern music. If he was feeling melancholy, it was “Nights in White Satin”, eyes closed and head forward the whole time, really feeling the music.
I’ve got all his favorites on my playlist. Digital, but whatcha gonna do, huh? I simply don’t have enough room in my house for that old type stereo set up, or the massive space to store all the tapes and CDs. That takes commitment. That takes work. You have to organize and dust and…forget that. I’ll settle for the digital versions.
We’ve moved past America, and right now “A Land Down Under” by Men At Work is keeping me company while I babble about the past. I always write to music. I suppose I get that from my dad. Like him, the songs I play are an extension of my mood. If I want to write a happy story, it’s “A Land Down Under” and other peppy songs. If I want to kill someone in the tale, clearly it’s time to break out some Rage Against the Machine.
Oooh! “Rocky Raccoon” just came on. Nice.
I haven’t listened to this particular playlist in quite some time, so the songs are kind of a surprise. I took it directly from his iPod after he died. He had loaded the songs into his new player to take on the plane with him for the vacation he said he felt he’d planned his whole life. He called me the night his plane left. Of course he waited till the last minute to pack, because that was the kind of guy he was. He’d plan everything right down to the second, then procrastinate on the stupid stuff and have to race out the door.
He called me while shoving everything in his bags to tell me a few changes to his plans and to have a little company through the mundane task of shoving underwear and tee-shirts into a suitcase. During the call, he bumped a candle he had lit in his room and it tipped over. He said, “Oops! Knocked over a candle. I don’t want to set the house on fire.”
Then we had an amazing moment. I keep that moment and I still think of it almost every day.
At the same time, we both spontaneously broke out in the same song. An old one. And when I say old, I mean so old that there’s no reason in the world we both knew the lyrics.
I don’t want to set the world on fire.
I just want to start a flame in your heart.
In my heart I have but one desire,
And that one is you. No other will do!
You know it? If not, you should look it up. The Ink Spots did the most notable version, though they did it as a cover. It’s one of those old songs you listen to and imagine rowing down a lazy stream under a parasol during the Sunday Social on a languid summer afternoon. You can find it on youtube if you don’t happen to have an old phonograph and your grandpa’s record collection lying around.
We got through the whole chorus before cracking up. We both said, “Wow, that was weird.” And then he said he had to get going, that he had about a half hour left he had to try and cram two hours’ of packing into. I told him I loved him and that I hoped he had the vacation of a lifetime. He told me he loved me, said he’d get me the cheesiest souvenirs he could find. He said, “Mmmuuuaa. Oxox.” It was our sign off when we chatted online, and he was kooky and would say that kind of stuff out loud. I returned, we ended the call.
As far as final conversations with people go, I’ve got to think that rates right up there with the best.
It’s Father’s Day. We plan on working on the car restorations for a bit this morning, then making the dad of our house sit down while we cook him a fancy meal. It’s not much, but I couldn’t get him to agree to more. And the boys will all give him hugs and tell him they love him, even the teenagers. And we’ll probably crack out some margaritas (for the adults, not the kids. Jeez. Relax. What kind of operation do you think I’m running here?), and definitely fire up the tunes. We’ll make a toast to my dad, and then we’ll honor him properly by singing off key to music all night long.
I was a very lucky girl to have the daddy I did. I know it. And no matter what day it is, I never forget that.
Happy Father’s Day, to all the great dads out there. You don’t even know how many good memories you are creating just by being your goofy selves!
Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Sunday, June 15, 2014. Oh shit. “Danny Boy” just started playing. Dang it. I got through remembering and writing without tears, the first time in four years. I will not be brought down by Irish sap! I’m skipping ahead. “And She Was” by Talking Heads? That works!