24 03 2011

I swore that I’d never mark anniversaries of bad events.  This one, though, has been hard to ignore for reasons that I cannot explain fully.  On March 24, 1996, my dad passed away.  Each year, I think about this day for weeks as it approaches.  That’s not all bad.  It just is.

One of the things that always linked my dad and me was music.  Last night I was reminded of a song that he played for me not too long before he died.  That got me to thinking about the songs that trigger memories of time spent with him.  Maybe we talked about the song or maybe I just remember hearing it in his car.   These jumped out at me.

“Dust In the Wind” (Kansas) — It must’ve been on the radio when I was with him.  He liked it, which probably triggered me to ask what it meant.  I was only 6 at the time, but I remember him telling me that we’re all born, we’re here a (relatively) short period of time and then we return to dust.  We return from whence we came.

“Hello Goodbye” (Beatles) — I remember that it was on the radio when we were driving somewhere.  The conversation wasn’t very deep, but it stands out.  I asked Dad if John was the singer.  He said, “No, it’s Paul.  Paul wrote this.  You can tell by the lyrics that John didn’t write this.  He wrote songs that were more like ‘Come Together.'” Excellent point, Dad!

“Better Off Without AWife” (Tom Waits) — Not too long before he died, he had been divorced.  He played this song for me at his place and said it explains why he’d never marry again.   It’s kind of funny if you know the song.

“The End of the Line” (Traveling Wilburys) — This song’s connection is a little less direct.  During Christmas 1988, I worked at Musicland in our local mall.  Because I got a discount, I got tapes and CD’s as presents for some family and friends.  For Dad I got him the Traveling Wilburys Volume 1 on tape.   I sent him a note saying I thought he’d like these guys because he would’ve grown up listening to some of them.  It was forgotten until maybe a year later or something and I said, “Dad, did you like that tape I sent you for Christmas?”  “Oh, yeah! I wore it out.”  I think he mentioned The End of the Line as one of the highlights.

“Give Me One Reason” (Tracy Chapman) — It was released months before Dad died, so I don’t know for sure that he was a fan, but I always assumed he was.  Even 15 years later, every time I hear it, my thoughts immediately go to him.  Why?  It just sounds like a song he would have loved.  He might have, but we never had that discussion.  It was definitely his style and I can’t separate the song from thoughts of him.

“Sister Golden Hair” (America) — The only explanation for why this song and my dad are linked in my mind is that I’m pretty sure I first heard it on one of our long trips up north.  It was just in the background.  Maybe he turned up the volume a bit when he heard it.  I couldn’t swear that he liked it, but I flash right to the interior of his Volkswagen Beetle whenever it’s played.



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