Monday, June 4, 2007

Strange, Avant-Garde Gifts From My Father

My dad doesn't like rock music for the most part. Okay, he likes the Beatles. He likes The Four Freshman, and assorted songs from the 1950's.

But my dad is passionate about music -- 1920's and 1930's jazz specifically. Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, etc. During my adolescence, I, for the most part, tried my damnedest not to listen to his music. I find his music much more enjoyable nowadays, but when you're a gloomy, moody teenager like I was, the last thing you'd want to do is say, "Oh, I like what my folks like."

Despite having dissimilar tastes, since we were both very passionate about music, we would occasionally lob a volley of a song or two to each other in hopes of making some of sort of connection.

My dad would play the occasional jazz 78 record for me, to mixed results.

I remember playing a pretty solo acoustic guitar song by Yes called "The Clap" for him (No, I have no idea why an effete prog rock band would wish to write a song called "The Clap").

My dad has an encyclopedic knowledge of the music he cares about. But rock music? I don't believe he has the equivalent knowledge, or the desire to obtain it -- it's just not his cup of tea.

Over the course of my lifetime, my dad has given me two albums out of the blue. It wasn't Christmas, it wasn't a birthday. A couple times during my high school years, my dad just said, "Hey, I picked up this record for you, thought you might like it."

At the time he gave me these records, I was into The Police, Pink Floyd, Yes, Led Zeppelin, that kinda stuff.

I had no idea what freakshow he was giving me.

The Zapped album was a sampler of Frank Zappa's Bizarre Records that you could get mailed to you if you sent some money in to his label. I don't believe it was available in stores. My dad picked this up somewhere used.

This compilation was my first introduction to Captain Beefheart -- there are two tracks from Trout Mask Replica. A wonderful pop song by Girls Together Outrageously is on there, which is still among my favorite tunes. There is stuff on this LP that I *still* find a little too odd for my tastes (Lord Buckley, anyone?).

The second album my dad got me was even stranger than the first.

It consisted of 42 tracks that .... well, I'll let it do the explaining.

If you're wondering, how on Earth could you fit 42 songs on one piece of vinyl? The answer is, you can't. Each of these tracks was 15-20 seconds long -- they were just snippets of songs. Far out, man.

I frequently would recite the small sample of William S. Burroughs on this record ("Stay out of that time flak! All pilots ride Pan Pipes back to base.") before I even knew who Burroughs was.

So, I just wanted to say, thanks to my dad for putting me on the road to avant garde stuff.


lulu said...

My father had an album of recordings of people dropping LSD that I used to put on in the background at parties in high school. I wish I knew what happened to it.

Cup said...

Dad was pretty darn cool at times, wasn't he?

Cup said...

Lulu, may I borrow that album when you find it?

Splotchy said...

The moody, gloomy teenager inside me grudgingly says, "Yes, Dad was cool from time to time."

I'd like to hear that LSD album, too.

justacoolcat said...

My dad also introducted me to Captain Beefheart. What an odd world.

Johnny Yen said...

My dad introduced me to Bob Dylan, Cream and Paul Butterfield, and my mother introduced me to Janis Joplin.

The day Frank Zappa died, my mother called my mother called and said "Hey, did you hear Zappa died?"

That was not the strangest call I've ever recieved from her. Blogpost to follow.

Splotchy said...

coolcat, what record was it where you had your first taste of the Cap'n?

jy, looking forward to the post.

shmool said...

Dad gave me an album by the Star Spangled Washboard Band and another by the Rascals. There was another one by Joe Cocker. I probably didn't play them for several years (likely too cool to be bothered), but when I tried them they grew on me. Another Dad gift album not so much: "Voices in the Night", which was a collection of the different calls made by North American bull frogs.