I woke up this morning with the song “Mr. Wendal” in my head. Between staffing, phone calls, and clients the ear worm has played in my mind. Over.and.over.and.over. I know the significance of the song. It was 1992 and the Arrested Development cassette was the first I remember buying with my own money. Dad took me to Best Buy and I walked the aisles running my fingers over the tapes looking for what I wanted.
Music has always been important to my relationship with my Dad. On car rides he would quiz us. “What band?” “Which Beatle is singing harmony on this song?” “What was Paul writing about?” I’m fairly certain David and I thought the Apostle Paul and the Beatle Paul were one and the same for many years. I remember realizing at some point in elementary school that not all of my classmates knew who “The Boss” was and not all of them could mimic Jagger’s walk. Seriously, what were these kids learning at home!? My Dad began my soundtrack.
When the New Kids fever hit my peer group, my dad passively aggressively taught me about other boy bands like The Four Tops and The Temptations. I clearly remember him getting into a playful argument with my friend Lexi about NKOTB vs The Beatles. He teased her that Paul McCartney never had to delay a tour to learn choreography. He hated when rap artists rapped about themselves. “Paul McCartney doesn’t mention himself by name in any of his songs. Why does Snoop need to remind everyone who is rapping?”
When I picked up my chosen purchase, Arrested Development’s debut album 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of… , Dad raised an eye brow and said “I guess they are your Beatles.” I loved that tape and played it out. The cover depicted the bandmates in a brown field, with a blue background, and a large tree to one side. “Tennessee” was my favorite song on the cassette. I had absolutely nothing in common with the artists and related very little to the experiences told through the lyrics but I was, nevertheless, in love. My love of hip hop, neo-soul, and rap continued to grow despite my Dad’s continued rock n’ roll lessons. Listening to the cassette also made me proud that I had taken my Dad’s love of music and transitioned it into my own life. He’d shared stories about his country-music loving dad understanding his love of The Beatles and now he had given me the permission to branch out to expand my personal soundtrack.
As I grew, we disagreed about other artists and genres. We also compared notes and introduced one another to artists. I’m proud that he now recognizes how awesome-sauce Justin Timberlake is and I am completely jealous that he and Mom saw JT perform in person (at the FREAKIN’ White House!?). We have attended concerts together and enjoyed music festivals as a family.
My Dad is scheduled for his second heart surgery in the morning to replace a faulty valve. We’ve heard the risks are low for such a risky procedure. Yikes! I’ve read about the condition and the surgery. I’ve heard Mom, Dad, Trey, and various nurses (including a good friend) tell me things will be ok. I just want my Dad to be well. I want to talk to him about books, work, and music. I want to go to more blues festivals. I want him to introduce my boys to B.B. King, The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, The Rolling Stones, etc.
I have faith that tomorrow is going to go well. My Dad has a team of great doctors and nurses. He’s pretty stubborn and has a lot left to accomplish in his life. But while we are waiting for Dad to come out of surgery, I plan to close my eyes and think about 1992; before I had to consider that my parents might not be invincible. I’m going to play that Arrested Development album in my mind and know that our soundtrack is not yet finished.