Like most people I know my age, my father is kind of a steel trap when it comes to his inner and emotional life. That’s not to imply that I don’t receive warmth from him. At his best, he’s the most decent, caring, and generous man I have ever met. He certainly leads with his heart and he has a real rascally side! But, knowing him my whole life I still feel like there is so much I don’t know about him. There is a great depth that I’m not sure he knows how to wrestle with, let alone welcome me into.
My creative life has been quite at odds with my father’s hopes for me, which has discolored my relationship with him for quite awhile and has caused me to erect several of my own walls between us over the years. But, I believe I’ve finally discovered why I’ve taken my father’s disapproval of my adamance of fulfilling this call to a creative life so hard – music has been chiefly the only way I have been able to receive a greater glimpse into his soul. I must have unconsciously assumed that this would have deepened our relationship, not become one of the biggest wedges between us.
Recently, I’ve been doing quite a bit of bobcat work on the job and the radio was originally set to the local classic rock station. I was blown away with music’s unique way of totally unlocking memories listening to that station that first day – my father being a huge classic rock fan. It flooded me with tons of memories of riding in the truck with Dad singing all these songs together when I was a kid.
With each song, I could recall precise memories of how my father sang it. I remembered the way certain songs would evoke a certain feel in him while we drove. I could remember which songs created a hush in the car. Which ones would rev him up. I remembered which songs made him trail off into himself, connecting him to something deeper inside or maybe something haunted from his past. I remembered which lines of certain songs he would sing with far greater emotion than others, which gave me, as a young boy, a glimpse into his depths that I would not have had otherwise.
And I think perhaps most notable, he never shied away from songs that were deep and sad nor that were sung by women. And for me, during my early adolescence, to see my father sing along with and be affected by songs like “you were meant for me” by Jewel and not perceive it feeling like it was somehow in opposition to his masculinity was very powerful to someone who would have been committing social suicide to do so. It gave me permission in ways beyond words to allow music to work me no matter who or what it was.
And it all just hit me like a rock that day. Music is the primary way I’ve ever really caught any glimpse of the deeper side of my father and what an unspoken depth there is. Music, in all the intimacy that it stirs up in one’s being, is how I learned who my father was and informed me what a stripped down, true man looked like. That this impenetrable man, I knew as Dad, could be so penetrated by music and revealed to me so fully, had a very big impact on me. And I have no doubt in my heart, that this is why I have always strived to capture a certain depth in own my music. In hopes that I could have the same effect on people, in the same way I have always seen music take hold upon my father.
I love you dad 🙂
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