The Original Music Type

Today is the 2nd anniversary of my father’s passing, who died at the age of 81 on Thanksgiving morning 2006. My fan was an avid music fan his whole life; though he was never a musician himself, he was deeply appreciative of musicianship. My dad demanded excellence in every field, and the music he listened was no exception. Here are a few songs  from artists my dad liked:

  • In the Mood Glenn Miller – My dad was a fan of several big-band artists, such as Benny Goodman and Mr. Big Band himself Duke Ellington, but he greatly admired Glenn Miller’s arranging skills
  • How Deep Is The Ocean Frank Sinatra

    Sinatra kicking back
    Ol' Blue Eyes kicking back

Frank was my dad’s favourite singer. This song was the opening track for the album Nice ‘n’ Easy, which my dad purchased as a Mobile Fidelity audiophile vinyl reissue while we were temporarily living in Manhattan in 1980. Not that my dad was an audiophile per se ; I think he only bought this version of the album because the store were throwing in a free T-shirt with it, which he gave to me. The t-shirt was basically a promotion for another Mobile Fidelity re-issue (Moody Blues, Days of Future Passed), but that became my cool music t-shirt for the next few years, and I wore to my first high-school-era jam session.

  • I Saw Her Standing There The Beatles
The Beatles' first album cover
The Fab Four's first album cover

 

My dad tended to pick an artist from each era to like, and because he had good taste, The Beatles was his pick from the ’60s. I can’t say he was much of a rock fan otherwise, but every time this song would start up on a tape I liked to play in the car on family trips, he’d always turn up the volume. Perhaps it reminded him of his stint at Harvard Law School in ’64-’65, as the only other rock song that seemed to get such an enthusiastic response from him was Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones from the same era.

  • Mona Lisa Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole at the mike
Nat King Cole at the mike

Mr. Unforgettable was another singer my dad greatly admired, and this song was a popular one with him and his contemporaries, even years after its release.

  • No Woman Nuh Cry Bob Marley
Bob's most famous concert album
Bob's most famous concert album

 

My dad was more of a fan of older Jamaican music forms, such as ska from the ’60s. But when Bob was dying of cancer, my dad made a point of taking me to the record store to purchase the album he had just released, Uprising. And every time the Jamaican television station would show clips from Bob’s famous concert at the London Orpheum, my dad would surprise me by knowing all the words to this song and singing along the whole time.

Currently on the Type M page is an essay about a musical memory of my father. It serves as a preface for an article I wrote about my friend Ginny’s organization Inspirit, which raises money to pay musicians to play gigs in nursing homes, hospitals and shelter. Because my dad the music fan spent a lot of time in the last couple years of his life in assisted-living facilities, nursing homes and hospitals, I knew instinctively that what Ginny is doing is a worthwhile thing, so I decided to write an article about her organization.

Thank you for the good taste in music, Dad…

12 thoughts on “The Original Music Type

  1. It’s official; your dad had way better musical taste than mine 😉 My dad also was tone-deaf which made his rendition of “stormy weather” painful. He also liked Barbara Streisand– but I think that’s only because he thought she was hot.
    Glad to hear Ginny liked your essay, Shell. You know you’ve hit a homerun if the subject of your writing has an enthusiastic response! 😉 I know it’s very near and dear to you… Well done.

  2. Figures, that one would-
    At any rate- your dad had better taste than my dad. Big George was also tone-deaf so that made his rendition of “stormy weather” painful. He had a large crush on Babs (as in streisand) but I don’t really remember him listening to music much.
    As for the article— so happy it has been well received; especially by person who served as the inspiration for writing it… You know you hit a homerun when the subject of the article provides an enthusiastic positive response… Well done!

  3. Hey Erin,

    Sorry about the comment snafu… There is a moderating feature active with my blog, but it normally only affects first-time commenters, so I’m not sure why it thought to pick on you… But I approved your initial comment, so I could always go back and “clean up” these other comments, if you’d like…

    Thanks for the kind words, as always. I won’t presume to judge your dad’s musical tastes, especially since my dad liked Barbara Streisand too, and not necessarily because he thought she was hot 🙂 I know he had two of her albums: “Guilty” on vinyl and “The Broadway Album” on tape. The albums he bought on tape were a good indication of what music he liked to hear, as he was more comfortable operating the stereo in the car than the one in the house, and he never had a CD player in any of his cars… So Babs definitely got the nod. And after all, with a voice like budda, why not? 🙂

  4. Happy Thanksgiving, my dear!
    I know it’s bitter-sweet for you but I loved your post about your dad today and am adding it to my list of things I’m glad I did to mark my Thanksgiving this year.

    Love to you and all those you’re sharing today with!!
    🙂

  5. Hey Cookie,

    Thanks for the kind words… The anniversary of my dad’s passing was the 23rd, but two years ago that was the date on which Thanksgiving fell, so it’s kind of appropriate that you read my post today… Some of my best memories of my dad are music-related, so this post seemed very appropos…

    Hope you’ve had a good Thanksgiving (did you head North to be South — if you know what I mean :)) I had dinner with my mom, brother and aunt from Barbados, and we opted for Jamaican food instead of turkey, so I guess you could say we had a Caribbean Thanksgiving…

    Amongst the music I played while we ate was Herbie Hancock’s Grammy-winning album The River, which I think my dad would have liked, and a Mendelssohn CD my dad bought with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” amongst other selections, so I’d say my dad had a hand in picking the soundtrack for the meal. It would have been nice to have had him there, though…

  6. p.s. RE your comment about the timestamp on your comment being five hours ahead — I get the impression that WordPress uses Greenwich Mean Time, like a lot of other Internet applications (e.g. e-mail)

  7. I’m sorry I’m so late to the game.

    This was a beautiful post and I can relate to it so much. Most of my music associations with my childhood are with listening to the radio with my father in the car. He was such a fan of 1950s and 60s radio music. Pop. There was this crackly AM station out of Indiana we could get and he was always so happy when we’d pick it up.

    Much love, TW. Thank you for this post.

  8. GoDub,

    There’s no such thing as being late in the blogosphere, as far as I’m concerned — or if it is, then I’m in trouble 🙂

    I’m glad you could relate to my post, and that it evoked memories of your own. This post seemed to attract a number of views right away, which I suppose is a testament to how good my dad’s taste in music was, but its instant publicity still felt like a tribute to my father…

    BTW, I’ve heard “Stairway To Heaven” a couple of times this week. In the past, I might have changed the station, so I’ve heard this song a million times before, but now, for reasons already discussed in your blog, it makes me smile…

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