Thursday, April 26, 2007

Basement Songs- "Father & Daughter" by Paul Simon


I worry about Sophie. My concerns run deep ranging from how does her brother’s disease affect her to is she receiving enough attention? The greatest fear I have for my daughter is that she somehow feels a lack of love on my part. I can tell her “I love you” until I’m blue in the face, but unless my actions show it, these are just words. Because of these fears, I try to set aside time and activities for just the two of us. I’m excited because today she is coming to spend the whole day at work with me, part of a “bring your child to work” thing the studio is having. Something else we love to do is watching baseball games. We have as been to several Dodgers games in the past couple of years. Sophie really tries to follow the game, asking questions about the players and how baseball is played. It’s not all about hot dogs and cotton candy. Sophie is a remarkable, smart, talented little girl who is growing up to quickly. I love her dearly and she is the reason Paul Simon’s “Father & Daughter” is on of my favorite basemen songs.

On of the joys of parenting is pushing your favorite music on to your children. When Sophie was baby, barely speaking, she sang along to “Someday, Someway” by Marshall Crenshaw, and created her own lyrics to The Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star”. She doesn’t recall those songs anymore. When I play them for her now, she jus looks at me funny. Later, just before Jake was born, she had a favorite Ryan Adams song and always requested several Andrew Bird tracks from hi excellent “The Swimming Hour” cd. And then there’s the Boss. As much as I worship at the altar of Springsteen, Sophie has been converted into a proud disciple, to, thanks to me. How many 8- year olds know the lyrics to “10th Avenue Freeze Out”? Even I have trouble remembering all of the words. Hell, even Springsteen does, too. I’ll never forget the last show I went to in 2002. The day of the show, he family was listening to a compilation I’d made for Sophie and “Darlington County” begins plying. Sophie shouted out “Daddy, do you think Bruce will ply this one tonight?” Knowing full well that Bruce made up set lists the day of the show, and that he hadn’t played that song much on the tour, I smiled and replied, “You never know.” I had a pretty good feeling I wouldn’t be hearing “Darlington County” that night. “I hope he does!” She said, before singing along with the chorus.

That night, as you might expect, Bruce and the band DID play “Darlington County”. Can you believe that? When Bruce and the E. Street Band next tour, I plan to take Sophie to the concert. She ought to be 9 or 10 and I hope it will be a lasting memory. Of course, as Sophie was quick to point out to me when I told her of this plan, “It will depend if it’s a school night, Dad.” The girl, God bless her, really loves school. Still, with al of the music we share, it is still a schmaltzy, African rhythmed folk song by Paul Simon that best sums of how I feel about her.

“Father and Daughter” was originally released on “The Wild Thornberrys Movie” soundtrack. At the time the movie came out, I was still working for Klasky Csupo, the company that produced “The Wild Thornberrys” film and TV series. Because I worked in the cartoon business, this form of entertainment was an early bonding method with my daughter. She liked “Rugrats”, “Hey Arnold” and, yes, “The Wild Thornberrys”. So, when the film came out, she was pretty excited to see it. It was released about a year after Jake was born and my worries about Sophie were beginning. It’s not that she expressed anything that would indicate she wasn’t feeling loved, but I was still worrying about it. Halfway through the movie, the song begins to play as the character “Eliza” is sent away from her family for the first time. Just watching the Eliza leave her family and the sadness that was felt by every character made me reflect on the precious time I have with Sophie. It feels like just yesterday that I was dropping her off at daycare for her first day. Now, she’s nearly done with 2nd Grade and excelling at school and swimming. Where has the time gone?

Simon had already written on children’s classic, “St. Judy’s Comet”, for his son back in the 70’s. This new song was written specifically for his young daughter. It’s the perfect companion to the early treasure. Like so many of the songs I gravitated to when I began training for my marathons, “Father & Daughter” was relegated to my cheap little MP3 player and it will never be deleted. Sure, I have he Springsteen songs and others the whole family shares, but the simplicity and directness of Simon’s lyrics hit home with me.

“I'm gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you'll always know
As long as one and one is two
There could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you”

I am so proud of Sophie. Her caring and generosity, plus her enormous heart so full of love and empathy make her a very special daughter. They also make her a very special human being, one that we all can draw inspiration from. With so much craziness in our lives, and so many heavy issues to deal with, Sophie handles them with grace, panache, and most of the time, with a smile on her face. As she gets older, I’m sure she’ll have her own music to turn to for comfort and guidance. However, I hope that this basement song by Paul Simon somehow makes it into her own collection of music.

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