October 6, 2011

Chip Off The Old Rocker (repost)

My birthday was a few weeks ago. My dad died around that time in 2006, and in fact, his funeral was on my birthday that year. So, of course, he's been on my mind some. A friend of mine recently lost their father as well, so I decided to share this once again.

When I'm getting to know someone, one of the first questions I ask or perhaps one of the first things I check out on an internet profile concerns music. Quickest way to turn me off? Tell me, "oh, I listen to everything." Really? Do you? You listen to gospel, classical, New Wave, grindcore and country and hip hop and sludge metal? The confused look on the person’s face tells me that individual has no idea what I'm talking about. I usually attempt to ask if he or she has any favorites...favorite band or singer or song or album or anything. The response isn't usually too encouraging and typically involves a statement about how tough it is to make such a choice. To me, all that means the person probably haven't vested that much interest in music and might as well be dead.

Music is life.

I learned that whole deal at an early age thanks to my dad. He wasn't the easiest person to live with...certainly to be raised by. He was a mean drunk who couldn’t go a day without drinking, and he had quite a drug habit. All in all, his temper was wickedly short to put it mildly. I don't think he was really cut out for fatherhood.

He died several years ago. Cancer. We weren't close, but it was still a big loss. It’s always tough to watch someone you love suffer as much as he did in the last few months of his life, but I think it was even harder for me because I held a lot of resentment towards him for me not really having a childhood. I mean, going to court at 3 because your daddy was arrested for distribution of cocaine isn't exactly keeping up a stable environment conducive to child raising. And, the violence he was often prone to didn’t make things any better. After I found out he was sick and even more after he died, I had the desire to let all that go. Why hold on to it? It certainly wasn't doing me any good.

I just really had no idea how the fuck I was going to do that.

Gradually, it happened on its own without any effort from me. I think the harder I tried at it, the more I failed. So, I let go. I had other aspects of my self-exploration to deal with. I've changed a good bit in the last 5 years or so since my dad died... a lot had to do with a musical evolution that started with a suggestion to listen to Baroness. Music—music I like anyway--is my Xanax, Prosac, Zoloft. It elevates my moods. Harmonizes my emotions. Frees my spirit. It makes me more social, gives me goosebumps, and  clears my mind of all the clutter of the day. Somewhere along my evolutionary road, I began to realize that Dad taught me all that. I can picture him clearly singing along to Don Henley's (from The Eagles) The Heart of the Matter. "I've been trying to get down to the heart of the matter. But my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter. But I think it's about forgiveness. Forgiveness. Even if, even if you don't love me anymore." He'd turn it up on that part when he'd have company over and tell them to listen to that shit closely. It's a decent sad-old-bastard song. I can still sing along to most of it even now. And of course, Eric Clapton's "Cocaine" could get him laughing and fist pumping like a champ...crazy old fuck.

He introduced me to some greats. Janis, Jimi, the Allman Brothers, the Stones, Zeppelin, Cream, Bread, Foghat, the Eagles--Hotel California still gets my hips moving, like it or not. The Doobie Brothers, Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings and more, more, more. Dad knew his shit, and it makes me smile to think back to him laughing, smiling, even tearing up over songs. I got my love of sharing music from him, too. I don't remember much about growing up....side effect of a fucked up childhood...but I do remember him making people listen to the different songs he loved and keying them in on the best parts while they had their drinks and whatever else may have been on the menu that day. 

The realization that Dad taught me how to love music and really open myself up to it led me further. I got a lot from the old man; I’d just never been able to see it before. He gave me my openness, quick intelligence (he was a human calculator, no lie), my ability to speak my mind without fear, and my rebellious, non-conformist attitude—you should see pics of him in the 70s. All in all, so much of what I love about myself came from the person who also put me through hell growing up. Eventually, I just saw the balance in things. He wouldn’t win a Father of the Year award, but he helped shaped me into the person I am today.


I would be much less of a woman if it weren't for you teaching me how much music could mean...how much it could move you and connect you to others. Thank you. It is about forgiveness, isn't it? I love you, you crazy sonofabitch.




Michael Isler said...

Wow! This was an amazing read. I love this about you. You are always a free thinker and just say absolutely what's on your mind without giving a shit what people think as I do the same. Just reading how you became who you are was just...simply intriguing.

Anonymous said...

Reading about how she became who she is only serves as a guide for what not to do to fuck up our own children. This sad girl's entire life is a fucking train wreck.

jenniy said...

If there were any truth to your comment, here and elsewhere on this blog, you would not have posted as anonymous.

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about me. not really.

dear you,

i don't talk about my child or being a mom. i don't talk about my garden. i won't mention my craftiness (often) or how much i save each week with coupons. if you're looking for that sort of thing, you're in the wrong place.

instead, let's abandon the tethers of domestication for a moment and remember what it's like to laugh at vulgarity and the world at large.



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