Sunday, February 28, 2010

Melody + Rhythm = Music

I miss my dad.

He passed away back in July 2004 of pulmonary fibrosis at the age of 65.

I never really knew how much I missed him until a few days ago.

For most of February, I've been struggling to come up with fresh and original content for my blog. It finally hit the breaking point on the 17th, when I sat down at my computer and tried on four separate occasions, in a span of twenty minutes, to write a blog post for today (the tentative title of the post was "Mastering the Art of Non-Success), but ultimately I struck out.

On the morning of the 18th, I composed a wonderful piece of self deprecating fiction, which was in essence announcing a brief vacation from the Cyber World (however, got a surprise for everyone in regards to that announcement).

On the afternoon of the 18th, I was sitting in my cubicle, sorting timesheets, listening to the radio and feeling a little bit out of sorts. Because I was feeling a little out of sorts, I decided to pop in a c.d. of The Seekers. Within a few minutes, I got to thinking about my dad, because basically this was the kind of music he listened to, and the kind of music I grew up on.

By the time it got to track #8, I was having a full blown trip down memory lane. Not only did it accentuate the absence of my dad, but it also got me to thinking about a few other songs that moved me in similar ways, not only thinking about my dad, but also about my grandmother, who passed away in the early 90's.

So, in no particular order of importance, here are a few songs that have profoundly affected me in the past couple of decades.

1} The aforementioned track #8: When The Stars Begin To Fall by The Seekers. My dad listened to a lot of folk music and The Seekers were one of his favorite groups. Almost all of their songs featured strings (guitars and upright bass) but no drums. This song opens with less than one dozen notes finger picked, followed by these five words repeated twice: "My Lord What A Morning". I find it to be a simple song that delivers an amazing punch to the soul.

2} Bridge Over Troubled Water: When this song is done right, the lyrics become poignant and the music haunting. Done wrong, you get the bombast without the emotion (Simon & Garfunkel). This song was done at a memoriam for my Dad some six months after he passed away, and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. The version that does it for me, is a duet by Johnny Cash and Fiona Apple, accompanied with just a piano and guitar. Nothing else can match the emotional impact. Nothing.

3} What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong: This is another one of those songs that can pack a powerful emotional punch. It is the type of song that shouldn't have been used for commercial purposes. There is a unique sad quality to the song that I think is perfectly accentuated by the minimal orchestration accompanying it.

4} Somewhere Over The Rainbow: Honestly, the first time that this song really touched me, was when it was used in the show "E.R.", when they wrote out Anthony Edward's character. It was tastefully done and it showed how the medium of television when properly used, can enhance a song. The version that I enjoy was done by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, and in fact, it was the last video shown on a short lived foray by YouTube into music television.

5} You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim) by Rod Stewart: Some of you may pooh-pooh this choice from a man who somewhere on this planet is still considered sexy, but whenever I hear this song, I think about my grandmother who passed away in 1994. I was very close to my grandmother and her death hit me a little hard, and still bothers me to this day. No link since I couldn't find one that satisfied my needs.

So, I wanna wish a belated 71st Happy Birthday to my Dad.

I love you.

And I still miss you.


  1. WONDERFUL music selections. One can never go wrong with a little Johnny Cash, The Seekers song was beautiful and #s 3, 4 and 5 are all favorites of mine. beautiful tribute to your dad.

  2. Thanks.

    Those songs really do move me. They moved me quite a bit while I was searching YouTube for the proper videos.

    I have that Johnny Cash album (and cd's as well) and I think that was one of his best albums that came out prior to his death.

  3. You know, Somewhere Over the Rainbow has always been a favorite of mine. I never watched ER but when I did hear this version of it I fell in love with it again. How wonderful to see the video. I never knew it was he that had that wonderful voice, singing it. Thanks! :)Bea

  4. There is something about Somewhere Over The Rainbow that always gets to me. I have a version by Gene Vincent, better know for up tempo rockabilly, but his rendition is sparse and beautiful.

    As I think I mentioned on my blog, when Kylie Minogue sung it live during her return concert tour after being cleared of cancer, the song took on a different meaning again.

    My brother was a great fan of Rod Stewart before he gained the "sexy" image. The "Maggie May", "Sailing" time period. I do actually think he had a great blue eyed soul voice. He was heavily influenced by Sam Cooke, and it shows.

  5. Sweet post, G. I'm sorry about your dad.

  6. Bea: I never really gave that song much thought, because the only time I heard it previously was in The Wizard of Oz.

    However, it really did get to me when they were playing an instrumental version (I think) on that particular episode of ER.

    Joe: The version I posted, is actually played quite a bit in my local supermarket (they have satellite radio). Actually don't enjoy listening to it like that, because I believe the song is the type that one can really make personal and lasting (like the version you mentioned being done by Kylie Minogue.

    As for Rod Stewart, yeah, he had a good voice during that particular time frame. I do like some of his later stuff from the late 80's, but this one really does it for me.

    R.K.: Thanks. It's very rare that I get into that particular frame of mind on this blog. I did it last year for him, although it was a little more upbeat then (if you're interested, check out the post of 2/23/09 called "Happy Boithday!)

    A general comment I would like to make about my song selection as well: While I am notorious for singing along with all kinds of songs (got that country type of voice), I find that these five songs I have problems singing along to/with.

  7. I really love "You're in My Heart." Glad to hear that this song brings you comforting thoughts about your grandmother. I love the lyrics.

  8. Thanks. The lyrics are remarkable in both their punch and their simplicity.

  9. Loved this post, G. I love that music brings the memories of your father close.

    The first time I heard Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", I was transfixed. I clicked the link so I could listen as I type my comment :)

    All the songs you mention (especially Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World") are just awesome and ones that I've enjoyed time and time again. Music is just so neat. Period.

  10. Music does make our world go 'round, and in some cases, can bring it to a stop for just a little while, so that we can relive the memories that some of the songs bring back to life again.

    Creating this post was somewhat difficult for me, simply because going through the links in order to find the right one brought back and accentuated those memories again.

  11. This is such a nice post and a wonderful tribute to your dad. I can understand how much you miss him.

    I love Johnny Cash - that is a wonderful rendition of Bridge over Troubled Water.

  12. A wonderful tribute to your dad, and to music and it's ability to connect us. The Cash/Apple song sounds like it'd be haunting. It's amazing how less can be so much more in song. And I recently heard a new version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, by Melody Gardot, just beautiful.

  13. Joanne, that is very true. There are very few songs that can function well with simple accompaniment, and that Cash/Apple version is one of them.

    I love the genuine stripped down songs. Always have and always will.

    And thanks.

  14. You know I forgot to mention that I was very touched by your words about your Dad. I miss mine too. I'm sure your Dad is smiling with you each day.

  15. Thanks.

    I'm sure he is.


  16. What a good son you are remembering Dad's B-day with his fave tunes-
    n your fave VerKlempt selections-

    I know those feelings well...
    Both my Dad n Gramps passed away a month apart back in '91, my Dad's B-day is about a week away.
    Thanks for all these to listen to, cause I'm horrible remembering the titles!

    Ya know, ever since I saw Doc Green die to Over The (Hawiian) Rainbow, I get too depressed every time I hear it- remembering my parents n how they both died of similar illness- tho thankfully not to that particular tune!

    Goes to show- you never know what in your day can inspire you in another direction! Don't give up- just wait a little bit longer, ok? (We'll wait too)
    (We always come back!)

  17. You're more than welcome for the selection.

    I have much the same reaction to 'Somewhere over the Rainbow' as well, which is probably why I'll never watch that particular portion of the Wizard of Oz again.


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