I always say that there aren't many things that have been in my life longer than music. I've loved music since I was about 12 years old. I loved it and it loved me. You see, my father had planted seeds in me that I didn't even know where there until I got to be a teenager. He sat around on Sunday mornings and played old jazz records all day. My siblings and I would lay on the floor and listen. I'm sure we didn't WANT to listen. What five year old really wants to listen to John Coltrane? But when you're five, what choice do you really have? And so the seeds were planted. When I was seven, my father died. With his passing went those Sunday morning jazz experiences. But the seeds had been planted. They started to really grow when I was around 12 or so. By age 14 they had sprouted into a full grown love affair.
Like I said, there aren't many things that have been in my life longer than music. In fact, there's only one thing that I've ever wanted MORE than to be a musician. Even stronger than my desire to be a musician was my childhood desire to be a dad. Strange, right? Who does that? Who grows up wanting to be a dad? When you're dad dies at age seven, I guess maybe that's the normal reaction. I wanted to grow up and give some kid the stuff I never got. I never tossed a baseball in the backyard with my dad. He never saw me play. Mind you, I loved baseball. Loved it with all my heart. But round about the time when raw talent is supposed to meet polished skill, I stopped being good enough. I always theorized that it was my dad's fault. I would watch my buddies out on the field on Saturday afternoons with their dads. They practiced after practice. They talked about the games. I just went home with my mom. So, as a senior in high school, when played my final year of high school ball I vowed to have a son and teach him to play. I wanted to be the father I never had.
Flip to several years later. Music is more of a passion than a profession. Two kids. One ex-wife. I can't say things have gone according to plan. What I can say is that I was right. I love being a dad. Last year my son turned just old enough to play t-ball. I had, of course, bought his ball and glove when he was two. He finally fit into it. I took him out into the back yard and began to teach him how to toss the ball. I remember this warm feeling coming over me. I had kept my promise. I got to play catch with my son. He's now in his second season of t-ball. We can actually go out in the yard and play a little ball with confidence. I help coach his little league team, and I'm convinced I have way more fun than he does. But that's okay with me.
I tell you what though. Even more powerful than tossing the ball with my son is the feeling I get when I see my kids make music. I don't know that I can describe it. A few years ago my daughter was in the school play. It was Aladdin. She didn't wanna do it, but her mother made her. She wouldn't practice her parts in front of us. She wouldn't tell us much about it. So on opening night I had a bit of anxiety, to say the least. When her part came and she opened her mouth to sing, it was like all had been made right in the world. She sang. I cried. One of my old teachers came up to me after the show, obviously noticing that I was shocked. She asked, "Well, what did you expect? She's your kid."
The other day I came downstairs to find my son writing music. Mind you he's five. He had taken some paper out of my printer and drawn lines on it to make "music paper." He was writing lyrics on the lines. He had done the same thing the week before, so I knew what he was doing. At first it made me laugh. Then it almost made me cry. Now, do I think either of them will grow up to be superstars? Maybe not. Do I hope they stick with music or the arts? I honestly don't care about that. But when I see it coming out of them as naturally as it comes out of me, it warms my heart every time. I think to myself: My dad planted those seeds. I'm so glad I'm here to watch them grow.