It’s interesting that, alongside traits like athleticism, home repair skills, and work ethic, taste in music would be one of those iconic legacies that fathers traditionally attempt to pass down to their children. It’s so intrinsic to the father/child bond: that perpetual conflict of “music in my day” and “all that new noise” positing the archetypal generational divides, as well as the gradual (or at least begrudging) acceptance by one or both parties of merits to the other’s taste as time goes on. Most importantly, as our own Terry Barr recently elucidated, music can often provide the basis for some of the best memories of our Dads. Those moments of shared delight over a song, or the rediscovering of new and old music through each others eyes. Music can bind anybody together in these ways, yet for fathers, it can be especially meaningful. So, with Father’s Day upon us, let us at Culturemass (and you out there on the internet) take a moment to look back upon all the musical memories that have helped define our relationships with our Fathers.
When I was seven years old, my dad blared Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” so loud in his Ford Explorer that I cried. Each time that booming, all-American voice shrieked the title over the barely-keeping-it-together speakers, I thought I was going to go deaf.
For years, I swore to never listen to the man my father affectionately dubbed “The Boss” out of spite. When I was fifteen, I found a copy of the album The Rising somewhere in my house and decided to listen to it.
It’s a masterpiece of post-9/11 rage and ennui, perfectly balanced by Springsteen’s sincere and soulful lyricism.
Ever since then, Springsteen has been one of my favorite American artists. Not because he’s necessarily the best, or the most creative, or even the most ambitious, but because he never feels phony. He completely believes in what he sings, and I like what he has to say better than any other boomer with a political agenda. In some ways, I think I love Springsteen because he’s so much like my father.