As a kid growing up in the mid eighties I spent many nights in the basement of my house dancing along to the records my Dad would blare out of his record player. We would spend hours listening to Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Eddie Money, David Bowie, The Cars and even Alice Cooper and my Dad would drum along to every last song. For most of my childhood when my Mom would go out at night we would sneak down to the basement and dive into our shared music addiction. I would frolic about our shag carpeting in my favorite pink tutu and my Dad would drum along, neither of us missing a beat. You see my Dad dreamed of being a rock star and he had enough guitars, speakers, albums and Ludwig drum sets to prove he was damn serious about it. I can still remember admiring the pictures he had taken from his front row seats at Alice Cooper’s “Welcome to My Nightmare” concert. My father even had some eight-track demos him and his band “Indigo Chew” had cut from back in the day (as well as some rather embarrassing photos of him wearing 4 inch heeled electric blue boots). My Dad was my Rock star and I was his devoted fan. Well until middle school that is.
When I went off to middle school I made an unconscious decision that I would no long be interested in hanging out with my dad and listening to tales of his rock ‘n’ roll glory days or dance along to our favorite albums. I was entering my awkward teenage years and like most teens I wanted absolutely nothing to do with my father. I instead spent my days talking about boys with my best friends and over applying makeup for school dances. As much as I had distanced myself from my father every once and awhile he would still knock on my bedroom door with a new CD he had bought and wanted to see if I would like to borrow it or listen to it with him. Most of the time I would tell him I was not interested and be fairly rude about it in an attempt for him to leave me alone. I was mean if it wasn’t the Spice Girls, what did I care? But my dad didn’t give up on me, I even remember him listening to the backstreet boys in an effort to have something to talk to me about after I went to one of their concerts.
My avoidance of my father continued well through my high school years. Even when I went off to college my Dad would still call and talk to me about some song he heard on the radio, which usually upset me because I felt like he didn’t care to know anything about me. It was not until more recently that I realized my Dad had been using music as a way to communicate with me. Even when I had completely shut him out of my life he had still tried to find a common ground with me and for him that was music. You see my Dad has never been a terribly intellectual man, but for what he may lack in intellect he makes up for in his passion for music. As I had grown through out the years both physically and mentally, my father would still try and connect with me through the only form of intellect that he felt I had not outgrown of his yet, through his love of music.
This year for my Dad’s birthday I got him and I tickets to see Alice Cooper in concert. Now they weren’t spectacular front row seats like he had once had but they certainly weren’t too shabby for a college student. I do believe though after I took him to that concert that without saying one word he knew I had thanked him for those nights of dancing to rock ‘n’ roll so many years ago.
I believe in the power of music to bring people together, people whom otherwise might not have very much in common. Just as music brings millions of fans from all walks of life to the same venue, music brought my father and I together.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.