This isn’t really a Fathers day post. But in many ways it is. I wrote it originally in October of 2010. The more I go over it and see the relationship between my own father, and his father to me I am forced to think that despite the undertone…maybe it is about Fathers Day after all.
When your coming home Dad, I don’t know when
But we’ll get together then yea
You know we’ll have a good time then…
My Dad and I hold this song between us. Its a bit of a testament to when he was in the Navy and gone for months at a time. Before Facebook. Before Skype. Before E-mail. Before cellphones. Deployments on a Aircraft Carrier could keep him gone most of a year with little to no communication save letters via the ever so slow US postal service.
I got a lot of E-mails and Facebook comments with my rendition of Glory to Georgia. Couple of folks didn’t know I played.
I don’t…play well that is. I have a bad habit of repeating rifts over and over especially if I am singing.
But music has always been our bond.
I mentioned a long time ago that my grandfather and I both loved Emily Lou Harris
My father does too as you can see here
I’ve played with them once and a while. Not being close to the area its a whole lot less than I’d like.
When I was young Dad was often deployed. He and I would sing duets on Harry Chapins Cats in the Cradle. It was more than a song I think, then, and is more than that now. When I learned to play he and I played it often.
Even when he and I could not see eye to eye on anything else, we could still sit and play music together. Our meeting point perhaps. You might note we have a sort of pedigree in the music from Dad’s bio. I’m not, nor will I ever claim to be, that good.
As a boy we used to gather on our front porch, and on the front porch of my grand parents home in Big Creek, GA. My grandfather playing his old F-top Kay. My grandmother strumming my fathers old Sterling Atlas. My father played the 1932 Gibson F-top that I now own. I had a Oscar Shmidt made by Washburn. Sometimes grandpa would play a saw blade. Or a Banjo. Dad or I would double on banjo, Mandolin or guitar. I recall that someone once had an accordion, and another a French Harp but that was years ago.
We played old songs that most folks my age have never heard of. Little ol Log Cabin in the Lane, Renfro Valley Home, All Around the Water Tower, just to name a few.
My grandfather and I, however, shared a love of train songs. Songs like Wreck of Ol’ 97, City of New Orleans, Wabash Cannonball, Daddy was a Railroad Man, and Freight Train. He spoke of when he had the chance to ride the real City of New Orleans.
But for Dad and I it came down to two songs, Ghost Riders in the Sky, the first song I lever learned how to pick on the steps of our cabin/home by Wolf Pen Gap and Cat’s in the Cradle. He and I sang more than these, but these meant the most. The lyrics have proven prophetic for us. He has indeed retired and I did move away.
Every time we talk he asks when I’m coming home. My friends do too.It won’t be anytime soon. My current job does not allow me the freedom I had with my previous jobs. I don’t have the ability to visit and nor do I have the time off I used to either.
But we still have our music. For his birthday I sent him a collection of Bluegrass tunes. The modern age has given my access to a wealth of MP3 recordings I would have spent years trying to find on LP or tape. Forget CD. I have also converted a large portion of my LP collection in to MP3’s.
He sent me a South East Bluegrass Association hat and membership.
Six strings and hardwood sometimes are more than just a instrument. For me and mine, it’s been a way of life playing a type of music most folks don’t listen to anymore.
Which is a shame, because music has more history, than just a single family.
For myself its hard to play now. The Parkinson’s makes it hard for me to do a lot of the finger picking that I love. I have trouble memorizing lyrics and notes and I sometimes I have a real problem making my fingers do what they are supposed to do, even on songs I have played a hundred times. I have the same problem with typing.
Something I love is gradually leaving my hands.
But never my heart.