When we are born we are all our mother’s children. We rely on her for life, for food, for comfort, for guidance, for help, and for love. But beside her is someone else, someone waiting just as eagerly to shower us with love and affection, with guidance and help and wisdom, to lead us through the tangled, twisted dark forest of life holding our hands firmly in theirs, our father.
As I have grown I have become more and more my father’s daughter. I have his eyes, I have his mother’s coloring, I have his hands and feet. I have his logic, his intelligence, his insatiable thirst for knowledge, his ability to read quickly and easily, and his passion for arguing anything and everything just to exercise the mind. And, perhaps most importantly, I have his ear.
My earliest memories of my father are of him with his guitar, playing the Beatles or Elvis Costello, telling me stories about rock ‘n’ roll and history, playing me records and teaching me chords. Music was the conduit through which he and my mother fell in love, it surrounded them when they got married, it inspired them when they birthed my sister and I ( we are both named for songs), and it kept our family together when things were hard and things were, indeed, hard many times. Through all the fights, the incredibly long hours at the office, the near-divorces and near-job losses, one thing kept us all together: Knowing that when he finally, finally got home, he’d pull out the guitar and we could all sit together and sing.
That influence, whether he knows it or not, determined my life from the start. Though a career in academia is about as esoteric as one gets, it is not just my own curiosity but a desire to honor my father that pushes me to study music, to know it and its influence, to explain its importance. My father wanted, like so many young men, to be a rock star because he believed music was and is the be all and end all of our lives. He’s a lawyer because he loves his family and wanted our lives to be easy and happy. I do my work for him, so that even if he couldn’t be that rock star he wanted to be he knows that he was and always will be right: Music is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, the magical art that moves us through life and allows us to experience the joy, sorrow, love and pain to its greatest heights and lowest lows. My father should know he’s always been right about that, and I will make it my life’s work to prove it for him.
I am proud to be my father’s daughter. I know how lucky I am to have a father who is such a good, honest, loving man. I wouldn’t trade him for anything or anyone in the world, and I will feel blessed beyond belief if I ever fall in love with a man half as good as he is. So today, Pops, let me just say: I love you so very, very much. Happy father’s day.