My father began instilling an appreciation for music in me at an early age, often to my annoyance. We couldn’t go for a car ride without him challenging me to his version of “Name That Tune,” an old-timey game made obsolete by smartphones and the Shazam app. By the third grade, I could tell Lynyrd Skynyrd from Ted Nugent, and The Eagles from James Taylor. My earliest memories of seeing pride on my father’s face are from when I guessed the songs correctly.
As I grew, and developed my own taste for music, I began to despise the square crap my father would play. While I was rocking out to Soundgarden, he was grooving to Tom Petty. While I was Rage-ing Against the Machine, Dad was mellowing out to Daryl Hall & John Oates. He even had a poster signed by the pair hung in his office. I scoffed in disgust every time I passed it.
When I was 16, our typical father/son clashes were compounded by a move from San Diego to Seattle. We butted heads for months. I was rebelling (read: being a 16-year-old A-hole) out of resentment for having to move; he was stressed from a major job change and the pressure to make the transition worthwhile for the family.
To reestablish common ground, he surprised me with a trip to San Diego and tickets to a Chargers/Raiders game - what had been a yearly tradition for the two of us before the move. On December 15, 2001, my father and I set up our two-strong tailgate party early to soak up the SoCal sunshine (you take what you can get when living in the depths of a Seattle winter).
Bugging the people tailgating in neighboring stalls, we blasted The Who’s Who’s Next in its entirety, just jamming-out together and talking. Next we moved on to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. He told me stories about his life surrounding the time the albums were released and confided in me some of the trouble he used to get into. It was the first time I can remember him ever talking to me like a peer, rather than like his son.
In traditional Chargers’ fashion, we ended up losing 13 to 6, but all I remember about that game was the two-man tailgate party beforehand that put the rental car’s battery to the test, and my father and I on the path to becoming best friends.
Our shared love of music was the catalyst that led to our finally connecting on an adult level, and it’s a subject that continues to bring us closer to this day. I grew to love his favorite bands, the same ones I once despised.
I went to Tom Petty and Bob Dylan concerts in college, and introduced him to The Black Keys and The Shins. The last time I was home, I got him hooked on Portugal! The Man. And, as I finish writing this note, I’m listening to “Las Vegas Turnaround” by Hall & Oates. I think it’s about time I steal that signed poster from his office.