Don't Suck at Guitar
« Monday Morning Blues with Dan Grigor and the Green Screen TrioLet’s Have a Level Playing Field »

Dear Daddy, What would you say to your Dad today if you could

  06/19/10 20:12, by , Categories: BFMN Exclusive, Dan Grigor , Tags: dad, daddy, fark, fark_com, father_s day, flamenco, grigor, guitar, music_ father_s day poems

The best thing my Dad ever did for me was buy me a guitar. He was kind of a mess otherwise. My folks split when I was rather young.  For a while, Wednesday visitation with my Dad was spent driving to the city and taking Flamenco guitar lessons. The memories from then are a little hazier every year and another year has gone by. I remember flash cards with notes on them; I remember listening to the teacher play and watching my Dad close his eyes and listen. You could almost see the stress leaving his body as he was soothed by the music.






Click here for a bigger version of the video
Click here for the lyrics

I learned a lot about music walking up and down the creaky old wooden steps to the studio. The way up was always a rush, “Hurry, Danny, we’re late.” The guitar case, nearly as big as I was at 5 years old, banging against my leg as I tried to keep up. The way down entirely different, relaxed, calm, “Should we stop for an ice cream?” Once in a while he would grab me up and with the guitar in one hand and me in the other, he’d bound down the stairs and say, “Let’s go to the zoo!”

It was the music that did it. He loved music. He played the piano and could play pretty well. I can’t hear “Autumn Leaves” without thinking, “My Dad can play that better.” Maybe it’s just a memory, I don’t know.

What makes me sad on Father’s Day is he never really got to hear me play well. It took too long. I should have listened to him and practiced more. I should have listened to him and worked harder, but I didn’t and it took too long. After he disappeared for a while, I did get to play for him and he for me again. He played for me a song that he had written and it was beautiful. I had a gorgeous Gibson ES-345; he admired it and listened to me play it, although unplugged. That was it. I played a song I had written for the band but it wasn’t very good on one guitar and without an amp you couldn’t tell how cool it would sound. We talked about music and maybe getting lessons again. A few months later he was dead.

I never said some things I should have. I wrote a song about it. For a few years in a row I submitted the link to Fark.com, a pretty cool place I hang out in online as spontn80 . The response there has always been great. It’s the comments there I think about on this Father’s Day. How thousands of people responded to it. Not in a club or at a venue but on YouTube and a silly internet community of snarky nerds.

The comments there are a fascinating read; catharsis is the word that comes to mind.

Happy Father’s Day. What would you say to your father today if you could? (w/voting)

“Dear Daddy, Here’s what I should have said to you.” DIT

How the world has changed, Daddy. Not many of those 2-story walkups in the Bronx remain. Thousand of people can see me play on the internet and hundreds of them listen every day. I’m not a little boy anymore wishing I had a Dad. I’m a Grampa and my hair is gray and I can play the guitar really well now. How I wish he could hear me now.  Sometime today I will get out my old guitar and wander down by the lake and play my Dad his song. I don’t really think he can hear it, nor will he ever know how many people he touched. Music is like that. The same song affects many people in many different ways. His song is one of those songs. It doesn’t matter what the lyrics are or which notes are which.

Almost 50 years later I can see a tear running down his cheek as my old guitar teacher plays a beautiful song. That is what changed my life. Not the guitar, not the teacher, not the trips to the zoo, but seeing my big, strong Dad cry at the sound of a beautiful song.

It has been my lifelong dream to have my music touch people that way. There in the room full of people, speakers blaring, lights blinking, you look out in the crowd and see someone moved by the song you play to the emotion they feel. Most of those people I will never meet one-on-one, an intimate moment with a stranger.

How precious a gift he gave me, music. How Fatherly of him to let me see him cry that way, moved that way. He felt a failure, I’m sure, at the end of his life, shot dead by the police. If I could, I would tell him that he gave me purpose. I would tell him that music became the center of my life and it has seen me through the worst of times. It saved my life and changed the lives of others who have heard me play, and those I’ve taught to play. What better gift could a father give a son? His legacy is, he gave me a legacy to leave behind me when I go. Thanks Dad… for everything.

So tell me, what would you say to your Father today if you could?

UPDATE: We love your comments. Thank you! You can also join in this year’s discussion at Fark.

This entry was posted by and is filed under BFMN Exclusive, Dan Grigor. Tags: dad, daddy, fark, fark_com, father_s day, flamenco, grigor, guitar, music_ father_s day poems

24 comments

User ratings
5 star:
 
(15)
4 star:
 
(1)
3 star:
 
(0)
2 star:
 
(0)
1 star:
 
(1)
17 ratings
Average user rating:
****%(4.7)
Comment from: gus
gus

I would ask my father why he gave up trying to see me when my mother would not let him.

06/20/10 @ 04:42
vbeaches
*****

I would thank him for taking me to Grand Isle, Louisiana as often as he did. On any given summer Sunday morning, after church, all he’d have to say was, “I wonder if the crabs are biting at the island". Mama would start frying chicken and Dad would start loading the car. He would call me, “Little Gal” and he taught me to swim.

06/20/10 @ 05:04
Comment from: Joseph
Joseph

I would ask him why he abandoned me

06/20/10 @ 05:14
Comment from: Morgain
Morgain
*****

I would tell him how much i loved our trivia challenges. They made me love to learn, and taught me to be a well rounded person.

06/20/10 @ 06:19
Comment from: mark
mark

Thanks for everything, dad I miss you. I would like to introduce you to my wife and son….father’s day, so many years ago, was the last time we spoke. He became unable to speak and died 3 days later.

06/20/10 @ 06:45
Comment from: Tabris
Tabris
*****

I’d say I love him and miss him, and he needs to stop getting in trouble and get out of jail so he can play with his beautiful grandson.

06/20/10 @ 07:19
Comment from: Michelle  
Michelle
*****

I would tell my dad that I forgive him, and that I love him. I would thank him for loving me when he “could", and for helping to bring me into this world. I would ask him to forgive himself. I love you dad, even though you weren’t there.

06/20/10 @ 07:25
Comment from: Joe
Joe
*****

I would wish him a happy fathers day, and ask him why? why he acted the way he did.. why he chose to be alone? why…. as much as we loved him…. i still love u dad, if you’re out there… i wish I could see u one last time…

06/20/10 @ 07:44
Comment from: wyohome
wyohome
*****

I would wish him peace and thank him for giving me the confidence to be who I am. I know he loved me and he showed it as he could.

06/20/10 @ 09:36
Comment from: Todd
Todd
*----

“shot dead by police” ??

06/20/10 @ 10:16
Comment from: deb
deb
*****

My dad also got me a guitar when, at age 14, I refused to take accordion lessons any longer. For many years I would play Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Dylan, etc., and got better and better because of his encouragement.

He also taught me to drive, to change the oil in my 1964 Beetle, took me deep-sea fishing, to the dump to rummage, pretended to be astonished when I brought home Vivaldi records, and too many things to list here.

He was the greatest Dad in the world and I think about him every day.

He died when he was 58, which I will be in three years.

A great Dad is the best thing a girl can have.

Love you, Dad…and Happy Fathers Day.

Debbie

06/20/10 @ 10:33
Comment from: HisBoy
HisBoy
*****

I would tell my day thanks for teaching me that racism was wrong. As a youth in rural Alabama in the 60’s and 70’s I could have turned out differently. My Dad told me to remember “that you may be better off than some other people but you arent any better than they are". Those words resonate in my mind everyday. Thanks Daddy. You were a good man among many bad men.

06/20/10 @ 10:39
Comment from: Irene
Irene

I know I said that I forgave you, but I didn’t act like it so you decided to give me my space and come around when I was ready. I came around sometimes, more than the others, but not often enough. After you died, and I went though your house, that’s when I got to know you. I didn’t know about your passion for cooking and politics..me too. I didn’t know your empathy for pets and those less fortunate or incapable of having a voice. I know you more now than when you were alive. I wish it wasn’t like that.

06/20/10 @ 12:29
Comment from: Amanda
Amanda
*****

I would tell him that I was glad to spend the his last days with him and getting to know why he did the things he did was the best thing that help me to forgive him. He was a great dad. Thanks for being there when mom wasnt dad. I miss you!

06/20/10 @ 14:18
Comment from: Paul
Paul
*****

I’d tell him Happy Father’s Day and that I wish he could have met his daughter-in-law and his Grandson.

06/20/10 @ 15:00
Comment from: Rene
Rene

I would ask him why he could not get sober while I have managed to stay clean. I would tell him all about the three smart fun grandchildren he has that he missed growing up because his drinking mattered more. I would tell him I forgive him, but still cannot bring myself to be around while he drinks.

06/20/10 @ 16:44
Jack Phillips
*****

Things to thank my dad for:
1. Guitar - yes, you had crappy ones around and could barely play but it gave me the opportunity to try it out.

2. Love of a variety of music - John Prine, The Rolling Stones, Steve Earle, Jimmy Buffett-all the classics my friends never heard.

3. Teaching - tying a tie, tying shoes, how to deal with idiots.

Miss you Dad, this first father’s day without you.

06/20/10 @ 16:50
Urinal Gum

I would say, on his voice mail, “Hap hap happy Father’s Day! You’re probably down at the nudist resort. I’m coming to visit you in September. I’m grilling some nicely marinaded steaks today. Isn’t it great that Izzo is staying at MSU? Well, give me a call. Love ya.”

In fact, this is what I did say.

06/20/10 @ 17:28
Comment from: Phil
Phil
****-

Still looking for you son, been 23 years.

06/20/10 @ 19:30
Comment from: Denise
Denise
*****

I think of you every day, and I see you in my girls. I’ve had a great life, the only sadness being that you never had the chance to hold my daughters. You were a fantastic father, my greatest ally, and a wonderful friend. I miss talking to you, because you understood me in a way that no one else in the family ever did. It’s been hard being the outsider for the last 15 years, I miss my partner crime. Lastly, I wish I could hold your hand again, tell you that I love you again, and laugh at your jokes again. I miss the sound of your voice, the confidence you felt in my abilities, and the love and support you offered unconditionally. I love you, Daddy.

06/20/10 @ 22:14
Comment from: Tom B
Tom B

I got lucky some years back. My dad had a heart attack or two, a triple bypass, a cardiac stint, and a stroke. But he recovered his speech and movement.

And that close call had me dig through most of our remaining issues from my teenage or university years, to get to what mattered, and that wasn’t most of the stupid fights.

I told him that I loved him, but I think he expected that, being my father. I told him that he was one of the most honourable people I knew and that I was proud of him. That I don’t think he expected, but I think it touched him.

Now, 15 years later, he’s still hanging around (worse for wear, but life is like that). We chat most days over Skype (well, a phone on his end… computers are a challenging for him whereas rebuilding a 1935 Ford V8 wasn’t…). And I treasure those talks, even when he rambles on about people who I don’t know and who may have been dead 40 years and turns every conversation into one about bores, strokes, transmissions, etc.

I treasure them not because of what is in them - that’s not really my thing. I treasure them because of what they mean: We’re both here, we both share a strong bond of love, and we enjoy each other’s company and worry about each other. That’s the important thing.

Father’s Day saw me tell Dad the same thing I tell him every time we talk - take care and I love you.

There’s always things you wish were different in your life. I wish I’d been more the greasy-handed car nut or that Dad had been less of a perfectionist and more of a teacher. Or that Grandad had lived to see me succeed at post-secondary education, rather than dying while I was really struggling.

But those are the sorts of things that happen in a life. Lives aren’t the fantasy we’d create, they’re the reality we get. The trick is in figuring out what matters and learning how to take the good from each situation, even if that is a hard slog.

I love my Dad. I feel real sympathy for those who have had troubles - missing or problematic fathers. I hope those that still can will find a way to make a peace with their father. I hope those that can’t will find a way to make a peace with the memory of their father and to go on to a happy life.

06/20/10 @ 23:31
Comment from: JB
JB
*****

I’d tell him he’s lucky I have a wife and kids, or else I would gladly visit upon him the violence he did to me, my mother, and my siblings.

06/21/10 @ 07:31
Comment from: E.C.
E.C.
*****

My father died of cancer when I was 19, and my brother was 17. My father and I didn’t talk much because he and I never really got along.

If he was alive, I would tell him how much I could use his guidance now that I’m a grown man.

06/21/10 @ 10:58
Comment from: james
james
*****

I would tell my daddy Thank You for being a parent first & a friend second. Your guidance and love made me the man I am today. As a child it seemed like you were too tough on us because you would not let us stay out late at night. You had to know everywhere we were going and who we were with and that annoyed me then. We had to do chores to earn spending money, while other kids were just given money. Making us respect our elders.
We thought the rules you made were stupid when all of our friends did not have those silly rules. We could not have long hair, we had to tuck in our shirt tail, answer any question with Yes Mame or No Sir, Please & Thank you. We never felt like we could get away with anything. We never wanted for anything outside of a loving home with an abundance of food, clothing, shelter & more love than we could ever imagine.

That stern but loving guidance still sounds within my inner voice to this day and keeps me doing the right thing. I say, Thank you Daddy.

06/21/10 @ 11:49