Tuesday Tunes 134: For Dad

In my most recent post, Songs For New Year’s Day, I mentioned that my father had been placed into end of life care a couple of days previously. I haven’t felt like posting since then, as my heart and brain have been a bit scrambled. Several of you have commented on that part of the post, and some have got in touch through my Contact Me page, so you will know how that has been affecting me. I’m grateful for your support. Sadly, Dad passed on Sunday 15th peacefully in his sleep, three months after his 95th birthday. I have mentioned to some that I intended to return to my blog with a tribute post for him, and I couldn’t think of a better way of doing it than a Tuesday Tunes piece – a very special one. I did actually do a themed post for Father’s Day back in 2020, but that was in the days when I only gave you two or three songs, and there are many more I could have included, so this is an expanded and reworked version of that. I’m also including two of Dad’s favourite pieces of music.

An early childhood memory for me was waiting for Dad to come home from work. Our house had a bay window in the lounge, which was an ideal place to keep watch. We didn’t have a car – back in the 1950s few did – but Dad rode his bike to work every day in whatever the British weather threw at him. Although the song is about a car, and what it meant to a small boy, this video always reminds me of my own vigils:

A little boy having fun with his Dad – you can see why that one means a lot to me, can’t you? Marc Cohn released Silver Thunderbird on his eponymous debut album, and it has always felt special for me. The closest I ever got to that was being in the little pannier seat on the back of Dad’s push bike, and then an occasional ride when he brought the office motor scooter when he came home for lunch, but the hosing does bring back memories of being soaked when he turned the water on us while filling up our paddling pool on hot summer days.

Dad on the R, next to me.
Dad on the right, next to me. 1962-ish.

As we grow up we develop our own views on life. I can recall some discussions with Dad as I was becoming a teenager and exploring the boundaries of our father/son relationship. There have been many songs about the different ways parents and children see their world, but I don’t think anyone has done it better than this. It has been covered many times but none, for me, has got even remotely close to the sensitivity of the original. This live performance from 1971 is heartbreakingly beautiful, especially when you know that Cat Stevens has said that the song is autobiographical:

Luckily Dad and I never had that kind of breakdown in communication or in our relationship, but the song does remind me of a couple of conversations we had when it was clear that he had found someone else and wanted to leave Mum: I recognised the signs, and knew this was coming before Mum did. But it was the right decision for him and, therefore, for the rest of the family: he was with the lady who became my Stepmum for fifty three years, right up to his passing, and they enjoyed the most wonderful relationship.

A phrase which people often use is something that has been said to me on many occasions. I can recall my Grandad saying it to me, as have others. The phrase is “I can see you in your father’s eyes.” There are a couple of songs about that, both beautiful in their own way, one of which you may know and one which you probably won’t. This is the better known one:

There are several versions of Eric Clapton playing My Father’s Eyes, but this one, from the set he recorded for the MTV Unplugged series, is the one that speaks most to me: stripped down it really brings out the soulfulness of both the music and the lyrics, which are about how we need our parents’ love and support as we grow. It is an especially hard song for me to listen to just now.

This is the second song which uses that metaphor:

The Webb Sisters released In Your Father’s Eyes on their 2011 album, Savages. It is such a lovely song, beautifully textured and with gorgeous harmonies – the sort that siblings often excel at. It is actually a break up song, about how the singer sees her about to be ex-lover in his father’s eyes, and it seems that his father wasn’t a good man. I’d like to think that people didn’t mean that about my Dad and me when they said it to us, but it does get to the heart of a family relationship and that’s why it is an important song for me.

Dad on the right, next to Mum. Mid 60s, I think.

This next song is another that you may well know – Harry Chapin’s Cat’s In The Cradle:

This song is all about how busy fathers can be, to the detriment of their relationships with their children. I can remember having a conversation on these lines with Dad. When I was young he was a local councillor and did a fair bit of charity work, which meant that he was often out in the evenings and sometimes at weekends. He tried to involve us when he could, but that wasn’t always easy and he later said to me that he regretted what he might have missed of the years we were growing up. I can empathise with this, as my job involved long hours and a long commute, and I often went several days at a time leaving for work before my girls were awake, and getting home after at least one of them was in bed. Thankfully both Dad and I managed to work things out better than the character Harry Chapin describes: I never felt deprived of his love or support, and I hope my daughters would say that about me, too.

I said at the beginning that I would be including a couple of Dad’s favourite pieces of music, and this seems as good a place as any for that. One of his most played albums was a rather odd one, of Russian folk songs performed (I think) by the Red Army Choir to an accompaniment of balalaikas. I did enjoy it, to be fair, and maybe he was sowing the seeds which came to fruition in my love of the Russian folk band Otava Yo, who have featured here several times. This, which he also loved, is mainstream classical though:

As the video shows, that is the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s Pathétique Sonata. The whole piece runs to about twenty minutes, but Dad was especially fond of this part: woe betide anyone who spoke while he was listening to it!

The second of the songs I know Dad liked came about much more recently. When I was staying with them one time a few years ago Dad suggested one evening after dinner that he could play a DVD he thought I might like. It turned out that the DVD in question was the first season of the wonderful Transatlantic Sessions (which I also have), and when this one came on it prompted some education by his son on the delights of English folk music, of Sandy Denny, who wrote this song, and of the fantastic Fairport Convention album Liege And Lief, on which it first appeared:

You may know from previous posts that I love Sandy Denny’s voice, and I never thought anyone could get close to her when covering one of her songs, but Mary Black did a remarkably good job with this. It is rather fitting in context, too.

2013 or thereabouts.

One of the things I used to enjoy with Dad, and which I have done with both of my daughters, is that funny kind of dancing where you have the little one standing on your feet while you take them round the floor. This next song isn’t one that I would normally play – not my usual style – but it reminds me of those moments with Dad, which usually ended up with us in a heap on the floor amidst much laughter:

Right now, Luther Vandross’ Dance With My Father speaks volumes to me, and judging from its 124m views I think others share in that feeling.

I’m closing this piece with another song which says a lot to me. I didn’t have the fall outs and disagreements with Dad that are described in this song, but I do wish I’d been able to tell him better how much I loved him and was grateful for all he had done for me, both as a child and through my adult years, when his support was also very welcome:

Thank you for everything, Dad. I love you. Rest in Peace 💔


65 thoughts on “Tuesday Tunes 134: For Dad

  1. My apologies for the delay in reading and commenting on this. What a beautiful musical tribute to your dad; I especially liked the Cat Stevens and Harry Chapin songs. And Mary Black has a beautiful voice. And I’ve always loved piano music, so the Beethoven was wonderful to listen to. I hope you and your family are doing well!

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  4. It’s always refreshing to hear about good father son relationships and that you were able to understand it was right for him to leave your mother. That can’t have been easy for any of you at the time. Hopefully most of us look back when we are parents and that livings had to be earned and contributions made to society and it’s never simple being a parent.

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  5. I haven’t yet listened to all of the songs Clive, but I will do. Just wanted to say well done on putting this tribute together so soon after your loss, I hope you found it in some way cathartic.

    Some of your memories of your father reminded me of my memories of my own Dad, we shared so much together that brings me sad but sweet emotions.

    I was only able to tell my Dad how much I loved him in the final few months when he was ill, but I could tell he knew anyway and rest assured so will your own Dad.

    Coming up to 5 years after losing him it still hurts, I even got a little tearful today when a memory came to me before I even read your post, so be gentle with any grief you feel.

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Paul. I wanted to do this sooner rather than later, as I thought it would be more ‘real’ for me that way. And yes, it was cathartic to do. From the responses I think some of the stories brought back memories for others, too. Your advice is good, and will be taken – thank you.

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  6. Oh Clive, this post brought tears to my eyes. You did a wonderful job at choosing such touching songs. I loved reading what you wrote about your Dad, beautiful tribute and so glad you had a special relationship with him that you can feel good about. I am actually listening to a Beethoven CD right now, I had to smile when I came to the piece by Beethoven on here and LOL about not speaking to him when that certain piece was played.
    Very glad that you had a special relationship with your Dad that you can feel good about.
    Sandy Denny does have a beautiful voice, but you are right, Mary Black sounds lovely on that song.
    Cherish the memories, hold them close and I hope they help soothe your pain. One day at a time, you have my continued prayers. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What an absolutely beautiful, moving, heartfelt tribute to your dad! I cannot imagine anything you could have added, for this is just so perfect! And perhaps the biggest tribute to your dad is the good man that you grew to be. I loved your words, loved the music, and loved this post that I knew you spent many hours and tears putting together.

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  8. Understanding that your dad rode his bike to work daily makes me like him more. A good dad knows how to have fun with his kids, and it sounds like your dad was that way with you. Exploring those boundaries of a father/son relationship is part of growing up. I remember those times well. 53 years with your stepmom confirms he made the right decision. I’m sure it was tough when he left your mom, but just like our kids, we just want to see our parents happy. I was a huge fan of the MTV Unplugged series. This one shows Clapton at his best. I had never heard the song by the Webb Sisters—truly beautiful. Cat’s in the Cradle is one of the saddest songs. How great that you included a couple of your dad’s favorites. Great way to remember and pay tribute to him. I especially liked the song and video with Luther Vandross—new for me.

    Some of the lessons we learn from our parents can also be things we want to change when we become parents. My dad was raised in a strict German family without much affection, and that was always much more challenging for Dad to show than Mom. Over the years, I taught him how that I needed that, and he became better at saying “I love you” as the years passed. We purposely raised our son to show love and affection, and it does my heart good to watch him express his feelings to my future daughter-in-law.

    Thanks for this beautiful heartfelt post, Clive. The days will get more manageable, and I suspect this post is part of your grieving and healing process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe I should have added in the story about the time he was at traffic lights when he was dive bombed by a flock of incontinent seagulls? It would have added to the sympathy for him! Thank you for this thoughtful set of comments, Pete, I really appreciate it and can empathise with all you say. CSN&Y’s ‘Teach Your Children’ came to mind as I read this.

      You’re right, I’m sure: this is part of the grieving process and it has been encouraging to get so many positive comments for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a beautiful tribute to your dad, Clive it must have been difficult to write and choose songs but you have done him proud…I’m sure your dad knew how much you loved him and he you for the man you have become…Please take care and be kind to yourself, Clive as the following days and months are never easy I still miss my dad after 14 years but now I can remember the happy times and the laugh at the funny things he did to make us smile Hugs x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Carol. It was probably the hardest post I’ve ever written but I just felt I had to do it. I wrote it in stages over three days: too much for one sitting! Those memories stay with us, don’t they, and are to be cherished: it will be 15 years in May since I lost my Mum and she is often in my thoughts xx

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  10. I am so very sorry for your loss Clive. I wondered why I hadn’t seen anything from you.
    A beautiful tribute, and the Luther Vandross song brings tears to my eyes as I miss my Dad.
    May your memories be plentiful to help you through this very sad time. Thoughts are with you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. my heart is holding yours while you grieve Clive. What a lovely picture of your dad and you and this song In your father’s eyes is very heartfelt. They are all beautiful.
    I was sitting with my FIL on Sunday and he is 97 mid month and he’s in the hospital and he just said it was the end of the line for him. We both teared up knowing it’s a matter of time. There are no words during these times but I’m sending you love and wonderful memories to hold your grief. 💗

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Cindy. These are kind words to console me, and you know exactly what we have been through as your father-in-law is in a similar situation. I hope he is warm, calm and comfortable – that is the best we can do for them. Dad told the doctor he’d had enough, and they agreed not to provide more treatment. He was stubborn to the end, though – his passing didn’t come for another seventeen days!

      The music in the post is very special for me, filled with meaning, and it was good to include a couple I knew Dad liked.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re so welcome Clive. It’s such a helpless feeling. Oh the poor guy. I hope he wasn’t in pain. Thanks too for your wishes. I invited him here but not sure How I could do it.

        Oh yes, the music is special for sure! ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      • It does leave you feeling helpless, doesn’t it. Dad wasn’t in any pain, and was warm and comfortable right up to the end. I guess your home isn’t ready yet for guests like that, but I’m sure you’d find a way to make it work if he took up your offer.

        Music is important in so many ways.


  12. That’s a lovely tribute Clive. So sorry for your loss. Losing our parents is so tough even when we are lucky to have them for so long. I can see why those songs mean so much to you. Some brought a lump to my throat, especially the Cat Stevens and Mike and the Mechanics.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Paul, much appreciated. I write these posts ahead of Tuesday and that allows me time on the day for a final edit and a check that the videos play as they should. Today’s was the hardest I’ve ever done, as all of the songs mean a lot to me. But I felt I had to do it.

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  13. A tough time that comes to all children. A fine tribute, and one of the joys of playing and replaying music is it stirs the memory with an immediacy nothing else can do, Sympathies are all we can offer at these times and those words don’t ever offer enough.

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    • It is tough, isn’t it. I’m an orphan at 69 but that doesn’t make it any easier. Music has always been important to me, and it is a refuge for me at present. Thank you for your kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Your moving tribute shows just how much you loved and valued your Dad Clive.There’s no way he couldn’t have known this and he must have been (must be) so proud of the man his son turned into.We all regret the things we didn’t say but I have the feeling they were heard nonetheless.I’m so sorry for your loss but I’m sure you are comhfirtted by your girls and others who matter. Look after yourself. Hugs

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  15. Dear Clive. I am sorry for your loss, and I am sure that he is now at peace and at rest, May you get strength daily to continue as you have and enjoy these awesome memories of your Dad. This is a wonderful tribute to him. Thanks for sharing at SSPS. God bless him, you and the family.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi Clive, I am so sorry to learn of your dad’s passing. Losing a parent is devastating whatever your age. My husband has been very ill and was hospitalised from 4 – 20 Jan so I wasn’t around that much. It is awful to watch someone you love very sick. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  17. So many beautiful memories which make it even harder to say goodbye but at the same time make you aware of how gifted you were with your father. The whole post is a wonderful tribute and the songs are fitting so well. Much love to you, Clive💖

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  18. Clive, I am so sorry for your loss. It is tough to lose a parent. Ours are now all gone, except for the memories we carry with us. I love your story of waiting at the window watching for him to come home. Thanks for sharing those memories as well as the evocative songs. Best wishes to you and your family. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Hi Clive, I really had no idea your dad was still living. So sorry to hear of your loss. It hurts at whatever stage you are at. Lovely selection of music and songs, and your thoughts are lovely. All in all you paint a lovely picture of a good man, and your relationship with him. My condolences

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Clive, I thought about you yesterday and wondered where you were. Losing someone you love does suck all the energy out of a person. This is such a beautiful salute to your Dad. I hope the day comes quickly when thoughts of your Dad bring smiles to replace the sadness.

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