Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

The folks at Hallmark tell me this is my big day. But it's not. I love being a father 365 days a year, and I'm grateful for each day I have with my kids -- even the days when they do or say things that make me want to bang my head against the wall.

My dad dropped dead at age 39, when I was just 14 years old, so I value greatly each moment I have with my kids.

One of the many things my dad sparked in me was a love of music. He didn't play an instrument, and he certainly never had money to take me to concerts, but through the magic of long-playing records and AM radio, he introduced me to much of the music I still listen to today. I've tried to spark that same love of music in my kids, and I have tried -- probably as a tribute to my dad -- to pass along to them a lot of the same songs, stories, and musical insights he shared with me.

So thanks, Dad, for turning me on to Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Charlie Rich, Bo Diddley, Ike & Tina, CCR, Johnny Horton, Arthur Prysock, Wilson Pickett, Roger Miller, Ray Price, Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, Jim Croce, and Fats Domino.

Thanks for introducing me to "Black Slacks" (Joe Bennett & The Sparkletones), "Chantilly Lace" (J.P. Richardson a/k/a The Big Bopper), "The Johnny Cash Show," "Jubilee Showcase," and "Hee-Haw."

And thanks for sitting me down, way back in 1971, with the lyrics (printed on the Monument record sleeve) to Kris Kristofferson's "The Silver Tongued Devil And I" album. That little exercise taught a curious seven year-old that poetry and popular music weren't mutually exclusive.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Kindergarten Meets the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

My youngest child finished a wonderful year of kindergarten today. A couple of days ago, the kindergarten class, along with many parents, grandparents, and teachers, filled the school gym for the annual Kindergarten Talent Show.

When the show was announced, my daughter had to decide which of her "talents" she wanted to display. In an effort to keep things simple (and keep her stress level low), I suggested to her that she memorize and recite a couple of poems by Shel Silverstein or Ogden Nash. She politely rebuffed my suggestion, telling me she wanted to play the piano and sing. The catch, of course, is that my kid doesn't play the piano.

Having hung around enough of my band rehearsals, however, she knew that plenty of folks had made hay (and even gold records) out of some basic chord progressions. She favored the I-vi-IV-V progression in the key of C, and ended up parlaying that bit of knowledge into a heart-felt talent-show performance of Dion's "Teenager in Love" that made my wife and me smile.

On June 2, while my daughter was honing her performance of a classic by one member of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, another member -- the sorely under-appreciated Bo Diddley -- passed away.

Bo's passing reminded me of another special moment I shared with my youngest daughter at the start of her kindergarten year. Last September, during a break in one of my Sunday morning basketball games at the local YMCA, she brought her little basketball onto the floor and began to dribble it for me. She told me to listen to her dribbling pattern -- Boom, Boom, Boom . . . . BOOM, BOOM. I laughed because I knew what we she was thinking. She said, "Daddy, I'm dribbling with a Bo Diddley beat."

It was a priceless moment I will never forget. God bless Bo Diddley.