Family

A Musical Ode to Fathers

In honor of Father’s Day, some of our VillageQ contributors share memories of their fathers and the music that shaped them.

Clare MassonMy dad loved to sing to us and with us. I know all the lyrics to dozens of Broadway musicals with him doing all the parts or splitting them with my mother and later with me. My daughter is now getting the same renditions. This video is one of my favorites as he would always use The Fantasticks to explain his thoughts on parenting and how he needed to let us make our own decisions and support them because telling us what to do would never work.

Alan Shannon: My dad took us to the Symphony when we were kids and I enjoyed it. I wasn’t so crazy about listening to it at home all the time, but he introduced me to some great music. I listened to Bolero by choice but also liked pop music–which my dad did not and still does not like.

Roger Rosen: I have no idea why this song in particular reminds me of my father. I guess it just epitomizes the doo-wop and Motown that he used to play in the car when I was growing up. I hated it then. Man, was I wrong.

Jan KaminskyMy father is a classically trained opera singer, who was (and still is) constantly either warming his voice up, cooling his throat down, singing alone or with others, teaching voice students in our home (now his own grandchildren as well), or singing along with us. He loves classical music and opera (and some of your more highbrow Broadway – but scoffing at Wicked, for example). When I was a child, I wanted my dad to be an accountant or a lawyer, something that wasn’t so “weird” to my eight year-old peers. Now, I think about how amazing it was to grow up in a home constantly visited by singers of all stripes, bringing a new international flavor to our home every day. When he would go overseas for weeks at a time to perform (thanks, Mom, for taking care of us – I now realize how hard that was!), he would leave me a Ferrero Rocher chocolate for each day that he was gone, and I would count down until his return. He is an incredible role model to his two children and to his hundreds of students over his career. Editor’s Note: This is a video of Jan’s father, Stephen Oosting (tenor), performing a duet with George Spitzer (baritone).

Cheryl DumesnilI must have been three years old when my father brought home our family’s first hi-fi stereo. I watched from across the living room as he set up the speakers and turntable. The first album he played: Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Green River. Dad was, at most, 27 years old, already a father of two daughters, carrying a mortgage on his shoulders, and in so many ways still a kid himself. As he slid the brand new album out of its sleeve, his excitement was palpable, and I am sure that excitement infused my experience of the music. I’ve listened to the album thousands of times throughout my life, and no matter where I am, the music always brings me home. “You’re gonna find the world is smould’rin’
And if you get lost come on home to Green River”–John Fogerty.

C.J. Prince: My father was an anxious driver in traffic. The soothing harmonies and yiddish accents of the Miami Boys Choir calmed his nerves and enabled him to tolerate people cutting him off on the Cross Bronx Expressway. When you look at my video next to any of the others on this list, you begin to understand why I’ve been in therapy for 25 years.

Dylan FlunkerMy dad listened to a lot Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, and Jimmy Buffett when I was growing up, but he also liked musicals. I always liked to hear about which roles he had performed in college and community theater production. He would sing Oh What a Beautiful Morning from Oklahoma to wake us up in the morning, which was more charming as a small child than as a surly teenager. I do adore musicals. I am not so much a country fan, though I do have a soft spot for bluegrass, Garth Brooks, and Patsy Cline. This song, Garth Brooks’ The River is one I remember clearest. I must’ve been six or seven when my parents got the CD.

Robert ShaffronMy father, being a Jew, worshipped Barbra. If you have to ask “Which Barbra?” you’re on the wrong site, or list or whatever. When I was nine, Funny Girl was in out of town tryouts in Philly before opening in New York. So, as a birthday present, my parents took my sister. Not me. My sister. Jesus. I’m the gay one! Still stings a little. After that, my father tried to find a pedestal high enough, but there wasn’t one. At Pesach, we didn’t open the door for Elijah. We opened it for Barbra. Herewith is my father’s favorite B song. I hate it. But I never told him that. 

FEATURE PHOTO CREDIT: CLIPART PANDA

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