I was listening to an NPR feature that has someone talking about the most influential song from their childhood. That got me to wonder about my own influences. Hence this entry.
My father isn’t known for singing. Outside of church, I’ve really only heard him sing two songs, most often “Bicycle Built for Two.”
May seem on odd choice, but I think one can learn a lot about my father by examining this song – and perhaps even more of my view of my dad. So, what does “Bicycle Built for Two” say?
#1 -- It is a funny song.
Most of my friends thought my dad was scary. I suppose it was because he was a judge for his day job, and carried the gravitas of his work life home. He didn’t have an infectious laugh, and certainly was not a giggler.
But in truth, he was a man of off-beat and sly humor – one hidden behind a straight face.
In our family, if you missed school you wanted my mom to write the note. She would mention illness, barfing bouts or visits to the doctor. Dad didn’t think inside that box.
He was more likely to send you in with a note such as (true story): “Sean didn’t make it to school yesterday. He got lost in a phone booth. He has since found his way out, and is now able to return to school.”
Did I mention off-beat?
#2 -- It is a duet, and thus a communal song.
The story is that my dad would sing that song as a kid with his cousin. Sure, one could sing it alone, as my dad often did. But it was made clear that the song was meant to be sung with another.
And not just any other, but one that you are connected with. You can’t sing, “I’m half crazy all for the love of you” with just any old body. Nope; you duet on this song with someone, and like it or not, you now have a bond.
I taught the song to Mimi on the subway, returning from a funeral – a friend we lost during our college days. We dealt with the oddity of grieving and the enormity of the mortal world with “It won’t be a stylish marriage, I can’t afford a carriage…”
To be continued…
Just my thoughts,