For as long as there are words left unsaid to fathers, there will be songs about dads. Everclear had “Father of Mine,” a song about a father who beat his wife and abandoned his children, while Jane’s Addiction’s absentee-father song was “Had a Dad.” In Bruce Springsteen’s “My Father’s House,” the Boss sings about dreaming of running through a forest to his father’s home, and then waking up and imagining that what tore them apart can be fixed. He arrives at the house only to be told his father doesn’t live there anymore. South Florida musicians are also writing about fathers, and this week we rounded up five songs, most of which are not likely to inspire Father’s Day cards from Hallmark.
“What’s Your Deal” by Miami rock band the Kind concerns a man whose last wife hung him out to dry. “Now every night before he goes to sleep/He pours himself the perfect drink,” the band’s Richard Lebos sings, “Vodka and Maalox, twist of lime/This is what he ordered all the time.” Lebos wrote the ska-tinged song about his biological father, whom he didn’t meet until he was 18. “Fun guy, charming, but extremely irresponsible,” Lebos says. “We never talked much after [meeting] and he died a few years back. Yes, he heard the song. Of course, I sent it to him.” To hear “What’s Your Deal,” featured on the Kind’s Waiting on the Harvest, visitMyspace.com/richardlebos.
Anyone who’s ever lost a parent may feel the intensity of the emotion in blues-roots band Iko Iko’s “The Day the Old Man Died.” The song opens with frontman Graham Wood Drout singing about driving across Texas and doing things as routine as pulling into a gas station, checking the oil and wiping the windshield, all while consumed with thoughts of his father’s death. “Somewhere near St. Louis, there’s a coffee-colored casket/Many people weeping in a chapel in the pines,” he sings. “Grief hangs in the air just like a summer rain cloud/And I felt just like a criminal on the day the old man died.” Drout explains: “My dad passed away suddenly from a heart attack 25 years ago. I had all sorts of mixed emotions. I never knew how I was going to react at any given moment. Lots of anger and confusion. I don’t want to get too far into it, but some of my reactions were very unexpected. I tried to convey these feelings in the song.” To hear “The Day the Old Man Died,” visit Myspace.com/grahamwooddroutsikoiko. Iko Iko will perform Friday at French Quarter Bar and Grill in Pompano Beach and May 7 at Schnebly Redland’s Winery in Homestead.
“Daddy’s Little Girl,” a sweet tune by Fort Lauderdale folksinger Ellen Bukstel, is a tribute to her father, a man who fixed and built things, told her bedtime stories and taught her the songs she would later sing to her own children. Bukstel lost her father to Alzheimer’s. “If I could turn back the hands of time,” she sings, “I would sit upon his knee/With his crooked smile and funny faces looking back at me/When his life was over there came a flood of tears/I remember how he loved me and taught me through the years.” To hear the title track to Bukstel’s 15-song 2008 album, visit Myspace.com/ellenbukstel.
“Fish Out of Water” by Miami rock band Jacob’s Ladder is written from the perspective of a son considering the father who abandoned him. “Don’t you know when you left us, it was a shot right through the heart?/You tore this family apart,” bassist Sammy Gonzalez sings. “The song was written about my dad leaving my family when I was about 5 years old and about me coming to terms with what happened and forgiving and forgetting,” Gonzalez explains. “He is who he is, but I’m not going to continue the cycle. One day, I’m going to be a great father and a better person to my children.” To hear “Fish Out of Water,” from the band’s most recent album, Ours for the Taking, visit Purevolume.com/jacobsladder. Jacob’s Ladder will perform Friday at Talent Farm in Pembroke Pines.
Musicians often write songs to express things they can’t otherwise communicate. That’s the case with Skintrade’s “Good Enough (Note to Father).” The Miami rock band’s drummer and keyboardist Oscar Dorta says vocalist Elana Meair wrote “Good Enough” as a note to her father after the two disagreed about whether she should move in with her boyfriend (whom she later married). “Her father, not being the most open-minded and approachable man around, dismissed anything discussed as the rantings of a child,” Dorta says. “Instead of writing a letter to him, this song was made … It really is a note to her father.” Meair sings, “I have no will to speak while I’m trying to keep my cool/It seems I get more from talking with walls than talking with you/Am I not good enough, not good enough for you?/’Cause nothing is good enough, never good enough for you “ To hear “Good Enough (Note to Father),” visit Myspace.com/skintrade.
Contact Colleen Dougher at email@example.com.
This story was originally published April 29, 2010.