Tomorrow (today by the time this releases) we will have a memorial service for my dad. My mom asked my brother and me to put together a compilation of music that my dad liked for after the service. Going through my collection, I realized how much of my musical taste and influences are a direct result of the music I grew up with. Even in cases where I discovered something later in life and shared it with my dad, our tastes were so similar in some areas that it was easy to predict what he would like. Here are most of the songs I chose (some aren’t available to share) and some brief context for each one:
My dad was a fan of big band swing music, especially Benny Goodman. Not sure if Benny Goodman was my dad’s inspiration for learning to play the clarinet, or if he liked Benny Goodman because he happened to also play the clarinet, but there was definitely some sort of connection there.
Dave Brubeck popularized odd time signatures in jazz and is a huge inspiration to me in terms of my rhythm choices in Pulse Depravity and other projects. A lot of my respect for and enjoyment of such ‘theory based’ musical choices comes from my dad’s near constant analysis of Brubeck and other more experimental artists.
My dad was a fan of Oscar Peterson, but had apparently never heard of The Singers Unlimited. When I discovered this album and played some for him he was really impressed (and who wouldn’t be!) This piece in particular was a stand out favorite for both of us.
I am a huge Beach Boys fanatic, and I would play their hits and the ‘weird stuff’ in more or less equal proportions as I discovered them in high school. My dad liked a lot of it, being a vocalist and vocal enthusiast himself, but he always said this was his favorite by far, I think because of the chord structure.
My dad had this on vinyl and I listened to it dozens of times growing up. To this day, for me, this and Wendy Carlos’ “Switched-On Brandenburgs” (also one of my dad’s records) are the quintessential Brandenburg recordings for me.
Simon and Garfunkel were among my dad’s favorite musical duos, and even though I don’t remember hearing this song much, something about the choir-like nature of it makes me think of my dad more than a lot of what we actually did listen to. Sort of a weird thing, but it makes sense in my head.
My dad loved the technical side of music, and did a lot of live recording as a side business throughout his life. He would often talk about the technical achievements of Les Paul and how much he loved these recordings.
Shortly before my dad passed away we watched a live performance of Fleet Foxes and he was really impressed, but he never got much out of the studio recordings they made. He talked about singing a variation of the Pentatonix version of this song in choir, however, and seemed like he was really impressed with them as an a cappella group. So to me this sorta represents my dad and I enjoying some newer acts together in different ways.
When I was little I would play this album constantly. I called it “The Rain Record” because of the rain sounds on the second side. My dad loved the way the sounds were used in the stereo field, and would always say that if you want to test your stereo setup you should put on Soolaimon.
Finding great clarinet music can be a challenge. A lot of composers seemed to avoid it as a lead instrument. I recall my dad saying he really loved this particular one by Mozart.
This reminds me of some of the smaller a cappella groups I heard my dad sing with. He did a lot of choir music, but it’s the smaller groups that I always preferred.
My dad loved the things Paul Simon did with lyrics, and he always got a little grin on his face during the opening line of this song. Maybe not the cleverest lyric Simon ever wrote, but the impact was palpable, and apparently resulted in the song being edited or not played in some regions, so the fact that my dad seemed to get a kick out of it amuses my dark sense of humor.
Another Benny Goodman tune because I know it was among his favorites.
Since I don’t listen to a lot of choir music, preferring small groups with tight harmonies, this is about as close as I get to appreciating the types of harmonies my dad usually sang. I don’t know if this is something a full choir could easily sing, as TSU are known for featuring incredibly difficult arrangements, but this sounds similar to the kinds of harmonies I would hear in the choirs my dad sang in as I was growing up and it reminds me of that.
How could this not be one of my dad’s favorite pieces of orchestral music. Not only is it Gershwin, who my dad loved, it featured the most famous clarinet solo of all time. As an added bonus, my dad was a huge Bernstein fan, so this recording is like a trifecta of dadliness. (Dibs on the band name “Trifecta of Dadliness”.)
My family listened to a lot of 70’s pop while I was growing up, as is to be expected, and I heard the big hits like “Windy” and “Cherish”, but this was a song I remember discovering as a teenager, and when I talked to my dad about it he said it was one of his favorites as well. The vocal arrangement changes a lot throughout the song and features some really big, emotional swells and other not-very-poppy stuff.
As a sort of combination of a cappella and sudo-bebop this recording is another that feels like it strikes multiple chords for me with regard to my dad. He and I listened to this album a few times after it was introduced to me by a professor when I took a jazz appreciation class in college. We both really enjoyed the way the voices seem to emulate instruments in a way that is rarely used outside of scat singing.
Peter, Paul and Mary were among several folk groups my dad listened to, and they were a big influence on my early songwriting and performances. This song pokes fun at rock and roll in a very loving way and reminds me of my dad’s playful sense of humor.
Not sure how much my dad liked the Four Freshmen, to be honest. I started listening to them because of their influence on Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, and I played them a bit with my dad around, but I didn’t really get strongly into them until I’d moved away, so we never really discussed it. I’m pretty sure he liked or would have liked them, however, because they really fit everything he loved about music; big band arrangements, tight vocal harmonies, and classic well-written songs. For some reason, the almost palpable sarcasm in this song seems like it would be right up his alley.