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How Dads Shape Their Kids’ Musical Taste

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When I was young, I heard jazz all the time. My stepdad was a musician and he would always have the radio tuned to the local jazz station. I couldn’t stand listening to this music. It sounded weird and there were no words. I wanted to listen to Run-DMC, Van halen, Prince, or Duran Duran, but dad wasn’t having it. He fed me a constant diet of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Charles Mingus.

When I reached college, a strange thing happened. I actually started to like jazz. In fact, I’ve built a large collection of jazz albums (yes, albums – the vinyl kind). I’m always reminded of my stepdad when I listen to my jazz tunes.

Now that I’m a dad, I work hard to shape my children’s musical taste. Because of my efforts, my kids have become huge fans of music from my childhood. Some of their favorite artists include Michael Jackson, AC/DC, LL Cool J, ZZ Top, and Madonna (I haven’t convinced them to be jazz fans yet).

Whether your dad influenced your musical tastes or not, there is no denying that certain songs will always make you think of him. I surveyed a few of my readers and asked them to share their dad’s favorite song.

Readers share their father’s favorite music

Dad always liked “Money” by Pink Floyd, and I remember his apologizing to us when the word ‘bulls****’ comes up. Phil

My dad loved to sing “Sweet Caroline” and “New York, New York.” He was a bartender for 35 years and loved singing karaoke. Now he’s retired but always will be known as the singing bartender! Maria

I can’t recall a specific song, but I do remember how listening to B.B. King on some old vinyl records on a Hi-Fi stereo put my dad in such a peaceful, happy mood. He would just chill in his lounge chair and listen to the records while sipping some mixed drink from his black cup. Larry

My dad liked “Daughter” by Loudon Wainwright III. I’m still moved when I listen to it.- Jenny

November Rain” was really big when I was in high school and it was cool that my dad dug it. He, my sister and I would all watch the video and try to figure out what was going on. Plus, dad thought he was super cool for knowing who Slash was. Any time he came on TV, dad would say, “you know, that’s Slash.” Now, when I hear that song, I think of my dad. Rebecca

My dad is 67 and loves Madonna. Dad would exercise to Madonna’s “Ray of Light” on a mini trampoline wearing a purple silk shirt, black spandex shorts, and a red bandana. That is my typical dad memory!!! Man, I love that man and his quirks!! Lisa

My foster dad liked anything by James Taylor. He would play the CDs all the time in the car or house and sing along. He introduced me to Taylor’s music.- Isabella

Dad liked to hear “Dance With Me” by Orleans. I remember his singing it with all of us and dancing with mom and all the daughters- Terri

Every time we’d go out of town to see any relative, my dad had “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” by James Brown in heavy rotation. I promise, when I was younger, I knew it verbatim. Nychelle

My dad liked to listen to “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin. The song is a reminder that kids grow up quickly and every moment is important. Authorine

My dad’s taste in music definitely shaped my taste in music. He loves Led Zeppelin, The Who, Sam & Dave, James Brown, and The Animals to name a few. My dad would tell me about what was going on in his life back when he bought each album. Lori

My dad enjoyed “Candy Man” by Sammy Davis Jr. I remember his playing it over and over on the stereo. He also liked anything by Nat King Cole. Maija

The song, “I Feel Good” by James Brown was dad’s favorite. I just remember him trying to dance and shuffle his feet like James Libby

What song reminds you of your dad?

Read more of Fred’s writing at Mocha Dad and Frederick J. Goodall

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