“MUSICAL MUSING,” 19 June 2022

A Day to Remember Your Dear Old Dad, Father, Papa, Grandpa, and–Oh Yes–“Daddy

Well, the calendar has rolled around to another Father’s Day as of this Sunday. All of us who have or have had fathers can muse on their influence on our lives, at least our musical lives.

 My father readily admitted that, when it came to music, the “only thing he could play was the radio.” 

And, play the radio he did.  He built a crystal set for himself in his teens and, in the 1920s (high school), 1930s (college and first jobs), and 1940s (army) listened t0 and knew all the bands and songs played on the air. We sat around the radio at home and, of course, in the car–AM, of course.

 To say that I grew up absorbing the big band/bouncy/bluesy sounds of these musical eras on the omnipresent home and car radio is an understatement. Needless to say, my musical listening proclivities were formed as my little ears grew into bigger ones. 

This was his gift to me so bear with me, gentle readers, if my musings focus on those “oldies” (to you) but “goodies” (to me.) After all, it is Fathers’ Day and, like many of you, I am a father and, like many of you, a grandparent. So, indulge me.

Now, back to the musical theme! Fathers (not mine, alas) often eased their offspring into musical directions by strumming on—or at least giving a child—a ukulele and “showing them which end to blow into!”  Kidding, of course!

Some kids embraced our favorite little instrument and kept their fascination through teenage years and adulthood.  Alas, others moved on to screaming heavy metal electric guitar sounds. Ugh . . . 

But, fatherly influence is all important, including from the “Father of Our Country!”

Needless to say there is a plethora of “pater” music out there from the sweet to the maudlin . . . Here are some early sheet music covers to remind us.

Now for the first song included in this musing. Give a listen to this old tearjerker by that “singing cowboy” himself, Gene Autry. Click or tap on the triangles in the center of the next image for a treat.

And then there’s that perversion of the word “Daddy” into the torchy, tinted (but not really off-color) slang of the day.

Here’s our second song, this one by Marilyn herself. Click or tap on the triangles in the next image to hear (and see) her in action!

Oh yes, we can’t for get the “Papa” songs either.

Our third song is this childish novelty tune of the 1920s. Click or tap on the triangles in the center of the next image to sing along.

For our fourth song, here’s an early recording of this bluesy Papa song performed by Bessie Smith. Click or tap on the next image to hear her voice.

And, of course, the novelty songs about fathers or even grandfathers.  Don’t we have fun!

Seek and ye shall find! Here’s our fifth song so click or tap on the triangles in the next image for this one.

Here are a few more rather curious sheet music covers of the day. What were they thinking?

Here’s a version of this country/western chestnut of a song for a final musical offering. Tap or click on the triangles in the center of the next image to listen in and try to follow the convoluted lyrics. (Not me playing the uke; his beard is longer than mine!)

So, to all you fathers out there–and to all of you who have or have had fathers, grandfathers, dads, papas, and (perhaps?) “daddies,” have a happy, safe, sequestered Fathers’ Day this year for you and yours!

So, remember dear old Dad, keep that mask on, keep your distance, keep on strumming, and STAY TUNED!

Author: NohoBanjo of Northampton and, now, Easthampton, Mass.

Hi friends, neighbors, and fellow strummers. These “musings” are based on my interest and study of Banjo and Ukulele history, lore, and music. My goal is to both educate and enlighten by sharing what I have learned within a broad musical and historical context—with honesty and, at times, a bit of humor. Needless to say, your thoughts and comments are, as always, welcome.

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