It’s not uncommon for young children to hate being forced by their parents to attend a religious service. At least the children in both my immediate and extended family. I don’t blame any of them. What innocent child enjoys being spoon-fed guilt by their parents? Not the young version of yours truly. If there’s one term I could use to describe my experience attending Mass every Sunday morning with my dad, it would be the term: quiet rebellion. Every time my dad wanted me to be quiet and listen, I would make an effort to tune out even more. I would think about everything and anything to get me out of the present boredom that is attending a religious service. They’d tell me to follow the readings. All I could do was fixate on how good the pork, roll, egg and cheese omelette at George’s was going to taste afterwards. They’d tell me to pray. All I could do was wish for was the Washington Redskins to win the Super Bowl. They’d celebrate the Eucharist. All I wanted to celebrate was walking to the back of Church and getting the hell out of there.
It was always the worst hour of my week. Can you blame me or any young person? Who likes being forced to do something they don’t want to do? Not I! When we’re young in America they tell us we have freedom. They make us think we can do anything we want. Then we’re forced to do something we do not want to do, like going to Church, and this whole concept of freedom immediately gets challenged. We slowly begin to realize we are anything but free in the physical world. It’s a tough pill to swallow. But when you get older you realize it’s a part of life.
After Church, my dad would reward (or compensate depending on which way you want to look at it) my attendance with a trip to the diner for Sunday breakfast aka the best meal of the week. While driving in his car, he’d crank up his favorite rock classics. It was the first time I heard what many consider to be the greatest music ever recorded by mankind, classic rock. He showed me religion but to no avail. All that stuff is boring if you don’t know what to do with it. What he did teach me is of much more value. Unbeknownst to him at the time, with every classic riff and iconic song, he accomplished something that no Sunday Service could ever accomplish…he taught me how to open my ears and listen.
Below I’m listing some of my dad’s favorite rockers. In my opinion there’s no better way to celebrate him. And for any father that may be reading…this one’s also for you. Happy Father’s Day, dad!
1.) Hey Jude by The Beatles
If you are into the Beatles you know about the allegiances to John or Paul popping up post-breakup in the 70’s. My dad was a Paul McCartney guy and this song is the quintessential Paul McCartney Beatles song. (I prefer John over Paul but that’s the rebel in me talking). Breakfast with the Beatles was a big part of our rides home after Church and I could really list any Beatles song to represent them except Within You Without You (a George Harrison song) or Revolution #9 (an Oko/Lennon experiment on the White Album) which were not his cup of tea because he was never into drugs.
2.) Maybe I’m Amazed by Paul McCartney and Wings
His favorite song from the solo career of his favorite Beatle. I would be ashamed to leave this off of a list showcasing some of his favorite songs. It sounds like a Beatles song and you’d have no problem seeing this song on a Beatles album if they stayed together into the 1970’s.
3.) She’s A Rainbow by the Rolling Stones
If you’re into classic rock, you’re either a Beatles guy or a Stones guy when it comes down to greatest British Invasion band of the 60’s. While I’d consider my dad a Beatles guy he still loved the Stones. Particularly the Brian Jones era Stones. I prefer the Beatles over the Brian Jones era Stones however when it comes to the entire catalog of the Stones I’ll take the dope-sick 70’s Keith Richards era Stones over both of them. This is one song that even till this day gets him to turn the volume up all the way and I don’t blame him. In terms of modern indie rock it’s more influential than some of their blues ripoffs.
4.) Heartbreaker/Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman)
My dad owned Led Zeppelin II. Most dads from my generation probably did. These two songs, which start side B, go hand-in-hand. I have to list Heartbreaker as a result of the two going together though it’s after the segue into Living Loving Maid when the volume really gets cranked-up. This is not the most popular Led Zeppelin song or even one of the more well-known Led Zeppelin songs on the album. It does not matter. The beauty in his love for this song showed MTV generation me the value of listening to albums in their entirety and loving songs for songs not for commercial popularity.
5.) Badge by Cream
One last entry from a British Invasion band. The era of compact discs was highlighted by the popularity in Greatest Hits collections of bands from my dad’s younger years. This is the first track on the Cream Greatest Hits disc my dad had in his car and this tune would constantly be turned up. Especially the section of the song after the bridge.
6.) Soul Sacrifice by Santana
Growing up, I’ll always remember when MTV aired the Woodstock movie for the 20th Anniversary of the legendary festival back in 1989. The scene of seeing Santana’s set was the first time I could embrace watching a great live band capture the moment. My dad and Carlos Santana also share something else in common, they are both Mexican.
7.) Hey Tonight by Creedance Clearwater Revival
Another song that to this day my dad still goes crazy over. I have memories of him singing along to the songs of Creedance with my late Uncle Kenny. ‘I Put A Spell on You,’ ‘Suzy Q,’ ‘Down on the Corner;’ they all warrant the volume going up. This one is accompanied by him trying to get his car to reach a hundred miles an hour on Hartford Road in the early 90’s…back during a time, those pre-cellphone distraction days. where you could get away with doing something as dangerous as driving fast without worrying about catering to what he calls “the other assholes on the road.”
8.) Hotel California by the Eagles
In the era of Greatest Hits compilations, the Eagles created the highest selling album of all time. When it comes to American 70’s guitar solos there are two kinds of crowds, the Hotel California crowd and the Freebird crowd. I’m proud my father was in Hotel California guitar solo crowd as he preferred this Eagles solo over the Freebird guitar solo. Heaven knows where my tastes would be now if his was a bigger fan of the latter.
9.) I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home) by Grandfunk Railroad
I never understood why my dad loved this song until I read the Walt Whitman poem about the death of Abraham Lincoln. It’s a song about true freedom, the freedom of spirit. This could be his favorite song of all-time. I’ve heard him listening to the song after pulling into the garage and staying in the car until the song was finished. And that’s if the song was beginning as he was pulling in. Makes sense. Physically and metaphorically. Now if he could only get my brother’s band to cover it;)
10.) L.A. Woman by The Doors
Apparently the Doors were a popular American band in Mexico. My dad held on to their original self-titled debut album. This track, the title track off a later album, has one of the greatest build-ups in rock history. I constantly find myself turning it up any time it comes onto the radio.
Divided Sky by Phish
I can’t deny some of the music I’ve gotten into hasn’t rubbed off on my dad. This composition, which my dad now tells people is the greatest solo every written, comes courtesy of modern guitar god Trey Anastasio. Over the years my dad has attended several Phish shows but they’ve only played this song once for him, 2nd night at Wells Fargo back in ’09. A moment he described as so exhilarating…he had a heart attack a week after the show. While Phish is known for their live antics, I’m attaching the underrated studio version.
Sharing tastes in music with my dad. It’s because of him I’ve developed what I feel is a decent taste. Of all the things I fought to ignore after he told me to listen….if you gave me a choice to do it all over without rock and roll in my life, I’d gladly accept my current consequences. Thanks Dad for showing me the value of rocking out. Rock on and Happy Father’s Day!!!