June 6, 2010

Birthday Music Past and Present

45 RPM Records
Originally uploaded by Piedmont Fossil
Last night, I was hanging out with a current pal/former coworker who was celebrating her birthday. Admittedly, I was in a slightly sedate mood (and not my usual gregarious self), but I was also in the midst of a more silent birthday celebration.

Yesterday, my father would have turned 62.

His passing almost four years ago has been...tough, in a way. We were more alike than we would want to admit, and the past few years of our relationship were approaching a kind of mutual understanding, cut short by my father's poor health. But in recent years, I've been attempting to reconnect - in an odd sort of way - through his tastes in popular culture.

Dad hated comics, but Sherlock Holmes? So there. Westerns - some I love, some I hate. War and gangster movies....OK, I love Cagney, but can take or leave either genre.

But it was through music that I've been reconnecting through Dad, mostly listening to his old vinyl albums and 45s. (For, for you digital youngsters, analogue mp3s). Thankfully, I had purchased a cheap all-in-one stereo system for listening to vinyl, and spent most of Saturday listening to my father's music.

His record collection shows a variety of tastes, much like mine. Everything from the Rolling Stones to Dylan, but also including some higher-end jazz and blues. (And a band called "Lucifer's Friend",which I'm still trying to get my head around). Much of Dad's collection was purchased at thrift stores, meaning that there is a comforting crackle-and-hiss before each and every song.

After going through numerous pieces of vinyl, two stuck out - the first being Belafonte at Carnegie Hall. I've mentioned this before in a podcast, but it was one of the few records that my father and I actually listened to...together.

But going through the 45s (or "analogue mp3s"), through the myriad of classic soul, British invasion R & B, and other songs that one really stood out - My Melody of Love by Bobby Vinton.

Yes, I'm serious.

Although it sounds relatively older, it was actually released in 1974, according to Wikipedia. The lyrics are a bit corny to modern ears, and my father loved it for, obviously, the Polish lyrics.

(He was a bit funny that way).

But there's something a little wistful in Vinton's singing - a longing for something that may really never have existed. (Oh, sure, the lyrics talk about love, but the way Vinton sings it...suggests something else). There's a haunted quality to the song that - at least, to my ears - probably reveals a little too much to me about why my father may have liked it.

I only wish that he and I could have had this kind of talk.

Happy belated birthday, Dad.

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