Every now and then, I get asked what music my dad listened to or what his favorite song was. Even up until his wake, someone asked. Unfortunately, I have no straight answer for it. But it does make for an interesting story.
His wife, Jeanette, will likely have a more definite opinion on this. But I have a feeling she had a significant influence over what dad listened to at that point in his life. A more accurate answer lies during the time when he had total control over what gets played in the car the old stereo we used to have at home. His tape and vinyl collection was made up of old standards and folk music which were already considered classics back in the 1980s and 1990s – Elvis Presley, Ray Conniff, John Denver, The Carpenters, Peter Paul and Mary, The Cascades, The Mamas and the Papas, ABBA, and a whole bunch of more eclectic music unfamiliar to me. He also liked local artists like Freddie Aguilar, Sampaguita and ASIN. He also liked contemporary and new age instrumental music – Kitaro, Enya, Yanni and a whole bunch of Celtic music. Those used to play non-stop in the car back when he was the only one in the family who could drive and when he was one of the bosses at UPOU who had a service vehicle assigned to him. I have an appreciation for all the above. But they’re not exactly the kind of music I would play for others to listen with me. And then there was the issue of him not having the same level of appreciation for the music that I like, lol.
It’s tough to pinpoint that favorite song, though. He’s the kind of guy who plays an album from start to finish, with hardly any exceptions. When he’s in a restaurant or bar and the house band starts taking requests, he routinely asked for Freddie Aguilar’s Anak. But I don’t think that’s his favourite. I think it’s more of a cross between a prank and him feeding his own curiosity. He certainly does not miss the opportunity to make that request in other countries to see if the band knows the song. But it leads me to the part that is more meaningful to me.
I myself started to have more interest in music in high school. And this was the time when I started sneaking in my own tapes in the car. I got more open with it when I started to learn how to drive. Predictably, if not disappointingly enough, he didn’t like nearly all of it. But he did like one album. It was my old tape of U2’s The Joshua Tree. I finally found the core of what little common ground we had with music. I tried getting him into U2’s other albums like The Unforgettable Fire, Rattle and Hum and Achtung Baby!, but he always went back to the The Joshua Tree. I get it. To this day, it remains as one of my favorite albums of all time. He’d play that tape from start to finish and even ask me where it was, whenever I took it from the car. In that album, he had a clear favorite. Perhaps it was because of the mellowness it brings back right after the loudest track in the album. But mostly, my dad liked Running to Stand Still because of the lyrics which was filled with what I call Bono-isms – figures of speech and juxtapositions that were quite clever at the time.
Listening to myself now, I can imagine being worse back then, but I’m glad I got to perform this for him and our friends and colleagues at UPOU when he retired eight years ago. I believe that was also the first time that I told this story. Doing those back when he was still with us relieved me of what would have been another regret. But somehow I feel compelled to try and record this, at least for my own sake. My dad has passed on, but I hope this can mean something to those who knew him well enough.