Dad needs a song.
I mean, it’s Father’s Day. He oughta have a sound track. Everyone else has a sound track. When Tony Soprano takes the screen, he gets “Woke Up This Morning.” When the Pistons take the floor, we hear “The Final Countdown.” Even the president has “Hail to the Chief.”
But I have spent some time looking into this and, as often happens with dads in America, they are getting gypped.
Lovers? There are endless songs for lovers. Children? My goodness. They’ll make you weep. And mothers? Even rap artists put down their profanity to pay homage to Mom.
But Dad? Well, let’s see. There’s the Temptations classic, “Papa Was A Rolling Stone.”
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
and when he died, all he left us was alone
So the guy was a bum. Not exactly Father’s Day material. There’s Shep and the Limelites’ doo-wop favorite, “Daddy’s Home.”
I’d like to thank you for waiting patiently
Daddy’s home, your Daddy’s home, to stay
Unfortunately, I think it’s about a guy getting out of prison.
A bunch of old meanies
Many people point to Cat Stevens'”Father and Son.” But that’s pretty much an argument set to folk music. There is Barbra Streisand’s “Papa, Can You Hear Me?”
Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you see me?
Papa, can you find me in the night?
Hmm. That sounds like a kid locked in the basement. Besides, the song is from the movie “Yentl” in which Streisand pretends to be a boy. Can’t we get something that isn’t gender-confused?
Some will suggest “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin, because the whole song is about a father and a son. Yes. That’s right. The father is too busy for the son all his life, and, finally, the son is too busy for the father.
And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me
Uch. How depressing. You would think a guy as special as Dad would have some quintessential song, some anthem, the way New York City has “New York, New York,” the way New Year’s Eve has “Auld Lang Syne,” the way whatever star athlete of the moment has “Simply The Best.”
I mean, even Heinz ketchup had “Anticipation” by Carly Simon. And that’s a condiment!
But many father songs are about tough guys or disciplinarians: “A Boy Named Sue,” in which Dad names Johnny Cash after a girl; “Papa Don’t Preach,” in which Madonna tells Dad she’s keeping her baby; “Summertime Blues,” in which Dad tells his teenager “you can’t use the car cause you didn’t work a lick.”
Or the dad is dead.
I don’t know why fathers have passed away in so many songs. Maybe kids just don’t appreciate Dad until he’s gone. But the nicest tunes -“Daddy’s Hands” by Holly Dunn, “Dance with My Father” by Luther Vandross – are written after Dad has said farewell.
What about Papa of the Present?
This is your song
Now, I may not be Cole Porter, but I can offer a few lyrics if the right tunesmith is out there. For example, I think a Father’s Day song should salute his sacrifice:
I work all day, don’t get to play
You spend my pay
Damn right it’s my day!
Or we could do the spelling technique:
No you can’t have the car
Or we could have one of those story-song country ballads:
He put me to work, when I was 9
That silver-haired Daddy of mine
OK. I stole that last line from Gene Autry. And his song is one of the best – except if your dad is blond, brunette or bald.
But hey. I’m sure by now, you’ve thought up some song I’ve forgotten and are dashing me an e-mail to say what a dummy I am. Here’s a better idea. Take that song and, if you can, sing it to your daddy today.
After all, he could have named you Sue.
Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760).