My father, in my experience, has always had pretty interesting taste in music. While I wouldn’t say that we grew up in a musical household — I was the only one in my immediate family who actively continued to play any musical instruments — but music was always present. When I was a child, I loved listening to Dad and his frat brothers sing together at their annual reunion (although my experience of the songs changed a bit once I understood them a little better…). There was music at dinner when we ate together, and the selection was invariably interesting (and almost always selected exclusively by Dad). We listened to everything from country to opera to rock to pop back in the days before CD changers (or, actually, CDs). My parents politely refrained from killing me when I locked myself in our home office and howled along to music myself, and never openly laughed at me when I sang in the shower (although, looking back, both the killing and the laughing were thoroughly warranted. Possibly at the same time.)
It occurred to me, after I received the request that generated today’s song, that I have never really talked to Dad about why he likes the things he does, musically speaking. This is sort of strange, I think, because so much of my early taste of music is clearly owed to him. I’ve never asked why he used to borrow music from me and from my brother (or why he clearly didn’t like some of the stuff I like — old Yes, for example). He’s always been current in his choices, though, which I find interesting. I think that most of us, given the choice, hang on to the music that meant the most to us when music itself was most powerful in our lives (often when we were teenagers). There’s not much of a compelling need to keep up with the new. Some people, though, keep growing with the music, and I think my Dad is like that. For every Don Williams or Pavarotti in his music collection, there’s some Pearl Jam (or, in an incident about which the less said the better, some Ace of Base) and something new.
Today’s request comes from Dad’s current re-immersion in Pearl Jam: Better Man, a song I happen to like a lot, too (actually, I think he wanted to hear the Laura & Josh version, which would’ve been better, but solo is how I learned it right now).
I went simple and acoustic, ditching the riff and the build. It doesn’t quite work, but it’s kind of interesting anyway. I altered some lyrics because I’m forgetful and because I felt like it.