8 min read

on my dad + music in memory

on my dad + music in memory

It’s 8:45 PM while I’m writing this but my laptop is an hour behind. I wasn’t aware it has manual time and date settings until I left central time and it never updated. I was aware my laptop shows a European date format but I was just too lazy to ever change it.

I moved into a new apartment on August 1st in a city, prior to now, I’d spent less than a week in total. Over two days, my dad and I made our way across the country from Chicago to Philly in a big cargo van. We didn’t talk much but we did listen to music. He let me play whatever I wanted and didn’t complain. I tried to gauge his reaction the whole time anyway, just as I’ve always done whenever my dad and I have been in this situation over the last 10 or so years I’ve been sitting in the front seat.

I wouldn’t say my dad has shaped my taste, that falls fully on my pop punk-emo adjacent sisters when they were young teenagers (which I spoke about a few weeks ago), but he definitely inspired a love for music and talking shit about it that helped me grow into the person I am now. For as long as I can remember I’ve known my dad loves Fleetwood Mac but really doesn’t like Stevie Nicks. I think that’s probably why I thought Landslide was a (Dixie) Chicks song until I was way too old.

He grew up between Milan, Michigan (about 25 minutes south of Ann Arbor) and Maple Grove, Minnesota (in suburban Minneapolis) and, as a result of being 16 in 1979, he hated disco. Him and his friends cheered on disco demolition night at Comiskey Park on TV. He’s clarified to me in the last couple years that their hatred for disco was very much based in the Saturday Night Fever wave of white dude feather haired disco of the late 70s as opposed to the genuinely culturally interesting black, queer scenes of New York that didn’t reach them at all. To paraphrase The Hold Steady, I guess the cool stuff ain't quite at its coolest by the time it gets out to suburban Minneapolis

These are things that stick in my head. My dad’s opinions on music and culture have always been heavily contextualized in his past and identity and the places he grew up. He loves Steely Dan and The Who. It’s also indicative of his obvious belief that holding onto beliefs of the past is stupid. He had Death Cab For Cutie songs saved to our iTunes before I’d ever heard one of their songs and liked (I think) when I played Phoebe Bridgers.

For my entire life I’ve wanted nothing more than for my dad to be proud of me and to think I’m cool. This is, of course, a very funny and stupid thing to want. But I think my dad is cool. I love his ultra specific interests and the way he seems to know everything. Any time my dad can learn something from me, that’s the best moment of my life. I think the part of me that derives comfort and satisfaction from doing things with my hands comes from him— I just make zines while he paints and assembles model railroads.

I feel incredibly lucky to have a father that is hyper-supportive and kind and politically aligned with me and funny and on and on and on. I’m also lucky he’ll listen to me talk about anything. Before I was rambling to you all about DIY and songs I didn’t really understand, I was rambling at him about it. Never one to make me feel bad about it or tell me it didn’t matter, he was listening silently.

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My dad’s always really listened to me, or at least it feels like he understands who I am and the things I value. He’s given me all my favorite gifts. From a vintage watch to a complete collection of Carl Sandberg poems he had to buy online from a library in Arkansas to a Shinola notebook to five Death Cab records… he just gets it. I treasure all of them.

Anyway, I could talk forever about my dad but I wanted to make a playlist of songs that make me think of him and songs I think he liked while we drove from my apartment in Chicago to my new apartment in Powelton. I’m gonna explain the songs but you can listen to it cohesively here:

& also on Apple Music.

Your Little Hoodrat Friend by The Hold Steady

We were seventeen and stuck up in Osseo.
She said it's funny even true love gets troubled by still water and washed up in the Mississippi river.

My dad went to Osseo Senior High. I played quite a few Hold Steady songs in the van with my dad this weekend. He laughed at the references to suburban Minneapolis and that’s all I wanted.

Saturday In The Park by Chicago

This is a song I feel like I’ve known for my entire life. Most of my actual memories start pretty late, around 8 or 9 years old, but some stuff is ingrained, I think. This song is carved into my mind from countless car trips in the backseat of my parents’ cars. I saw Vampire Weekend cover it at Lollapalooza 2018 and cried alone in the crowd, as I do.

Motion Sickness by Phoebe Bridgers

I played a few Phoebe Bridgers songs for my dad at the start of our trip. In his car he has XM Radio and will frequently stop on Soccer Mommy or Snail Mail or Mitski which makes me happy, even if I don’t think he really internalizes the songs. I think he’d be a Matador / Dead Oceans indie dude if he was my age now. Anyway, I thought he’d like it and he asked who was playing when I played this one while we approached the big bend in Lake Shore Drive.

You Make Loving Fun by Fleetwood Mac

I do not know my dad’s favorite Fleetwood Mac songs. As I mentioned before, I simply know he does not care much for Stevie Nicks. I remember this one playing in the car but I’m not sure it’s because he really genuinely likes it or because it was just on the radio and he didn’t mind it.

Cooper’s Dream by Trace Mountains

I played all of the new Trace Mountains record, Lost In The Country, in the car and went way too in depth on who Dave Benton is when he asked me who was playing. My dad does not care who LVL UP is. Anyway, I love that Trace Mountains record. I’m glad he didn’t seem to mind it.

(I’m writing a newsletter about Patreon next week and am subscribed to the Trace Mountains Patreon which has been awesome. Lost In The Country is awesome.)

Only a Fool Would Say That by Steely Dan

While I cooked dinner last night, my boyfriend, Gabe, and my dad put together the desk I’m typing at right now. While they did it they listened to Steely Dan’s album Can’t Buy a Thrill after my dad expressed approval over Gabe owning it on vinyl. Apparently at one point, Gabe said he didn’t like Only a Food Would Say That and my dad simply told him it was the best song on the album. I love that.

Crooked Teeth by Death Cab For Cutie

Crooked Teeth is a rare song by father will turn up and sing along to. It’s a banger so I get it. It’s one of my favorite DCFC songs, too. Plans reminds me of my dad but this one especially. I could pick several DCFC songs that remind me of my dad because they just remind me of my dad. I was with my dad when I found out Ben Gibbard and Zoe Deschannel got divorced. He was taking me to a dentist appointment, we were driving out of the Bolingbrook High School parking lot, and the man on the radio announced the divorce. I was devastated.

The Punk and the Godfather by The Who

The reasoning for this choice is two fold.

  1. When I was first sort of getting into vinyl I remember my dad pulling out his records from a wooden chest in the basement. There was a bunch of stuff, some of which I ended up taking. Mostly a bunch of Beatles records that he got from his aunt and Meat Is Murder by The Smiths that was still shrink-wrapped. My dad thinks Morrissey is insufferable as a person. I do too. Anyway, my dad had Quadrophenia on vinyl. I remember thinking the booklet inside was so cool and the art was so perfect. He explained the movie and stuff (I’ve still never seen it) but I think it’s part of why I feel so strongly about vinyl packaging. The Punk and the Godfather is the only song I remember strongly from the album which brings us to my other major music memory related to The Who…

My dad’s side of my family was big into CSI when I was a child. Especially his brother, my uncle, Paul’s family. CSI then Law & Order and Criminal Minds and all kinds of other cop propaganda shows. CSI taught me a lot of things (like about furries..) but also about The Who. Who Are You is the theme song for CSI (the original, Las Vegas), Won’t Get Fooled Again is CSI: Miami’s theme, and Baba O’Riley opens CSI: New York. Those are songs burnt into my brain forever thanks to my family’s obsession with crime shows but it’s hard to wax nostalgic about CSI. (On an aside: I didn’t know Baba O’Riley was called that until the Joe Pera Talks with You Episode where he discovers The Who)

The District Sleeps Alone Tonight by The Postal Service

My junior year of high school my father texted me at maybe 10:30 AM while I was in school, “hey does the postal service have the same singer as death cab for cutie?” because he heard a Postal Service song on the radio on the way to work and I said, “yes Ben Gibbard” then he promptly told me not to text during school.

I expect he heard Such Great Heights but I prefer The District Sleeps Alone Tonight so that’s the one I put on this playlist.

Cars by Gary Numan

This is, perhaps, my earliest music memory. I think I uncovered more memories than I thought existed wh compiling this list. Anyway, my father had a video game called Test Drive 6 on the original Playstation. This song was the intro theme and it fuckin ruled. It still rules.

I’m gonna miss my dad a lot while I live 800 miles away from him and my mom but I’ll always have the same thing that connects me to so many of my distant friends and family— the songs that feel like being around them. That’s the real power in music, I think, that feeling of closeness certain sounds can bring.

I know my dad is proud of me and I’m proud he’s my dad. Thanks for reading.

Miranda Reinert is a zine maker and law student newly based in Philadelphia. She is looking for friends. Follow me on Twitter for more on music and other things like polling the emo community on where good pizza in Philly is: @mirandareinert. Thanks for reading!

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