More Than Music

I can’t remember the last time I was away from my Dad on Father’s Day. He’s never been one for celebrating it, but being away from him today had me thinking a lot. This weekend I saw his favorite band in Paris and kept hoping that he was right there next to me the whole time. This was my second time seeing the Rolling Stones. The first time I was with my family back home in North Carolina. It was the greatest concert I’ve ever experienced. This time was different, I was in Paris and I was alone.

Like my Dad, the Rolling Stones are my favorite band. I’ve been listening to their music for as long as I can remember. Whenever I rode around town with my Dad I got a little Led Zeppelin, a little Grateful Dead, but mostly the Stones. I knew every word to every song on every CD. I loved car rides as a kid.

Sometimes we would pull up to the house but choose to stay in the car or take another lap around the neighborhood so we could listen to the solo at the end of “Sympathy For The Devil”. It was more than music to me—it was a connection that brought me closer to my father.

Like most kids, I could sometimes be an obnoxious little brat—getting wrapped up in juvenile desires with absolutely zero regard for anyone other than myself. I can recall several times these selfish episodes occurred in the car, upon which my Dad would pull out Hot Rocks, Disk 2 and turn it to track 7 “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. He didn’t have to say a word, that always shut me up.

My Dad believes there’s only one way to listen to the Stones, with the volume fully cranked. Sometimes he might add some emphatic air guitar gestures just for fun—a habit I have adopted completely. He would talk about Keith Richards as if he knew the guy. I like to think if he ever met Keith they would get along as if they had known each other their whole lives.

When I started to play the guitar I couldn’t wait until I was good enough to play a Rolling Stones song. I was one of those kids who wanted to jump straight to electric, ready for the big leagues. Mostly I just wanted to impress my old man. I remember coming home from a lesson when I learned to play “Satisfaction” and I couldn’t wait to play it for my Dad. I set my amp up at the top of the stairs and sat there waiting for him to get home from work. As soon as he opened our front door I let it rip.

The first thing I did when I found out I would be studying in London this summer was check the Rolling Stones tour schedule. I was crushed to see they weren’t playing in London and even worse that all the shows had sold out. I didn’t let that discourage me and my Dad urged me to go even if I couldn’t find a ticket, convinced I’d figure something out.

I did. I found a ticket and set off for Paris. Towards the beginning of the show I could barely believe I was there. I was completely enthralled. For lack of a better way to put it, I was caught up in the moment, sometimes forgetting that I was alone. They would play one of my favorite songs, I would scream every word in excitement and then turn to realize I had no one to share the moment with.

I had never been to a concert by myself before, but I didn’t like that feeling. It made me sad. It wasn’t a sadness of being alone; after all I was in a stadium with 70,000 plus. It was the fact that I wasn’t sharing this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime moment with somebody who I might look back and reminisce with years from now. I wished more than anything that my Dad was there. He’s the one who brought me up to fall in love with this band. I would have loved nothing more than to turn to him and see the grin on his face when they came on for the encore and played “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.

Thanks for teaching me to appreciate music, to go for it when you have the chance, but most of all, thanks for being my Dad.