Living in Missoula, MT while my daughters are in Chicago during their birthday is a difficult thing for this dad. I miss my girls but also know everyone is exactly where they should be. As a result of this separation, it’s tough to know what to “get” my daughters as a gift. My oldest biological daughter turns 16 this year and it truly is a sweet time in her life. I got sober 2 weeks before my oldest daughter was born. As a result, in many ways, we are growing up together. They say that one’s development is arrested when alcohol becomes an overwhelming force in their life. For me that was around age 16. So “Little Sveny” and I are about the same emotional age. I will admit on most days, she handles being 16 much better than I do now or when I was actually 16 for that matter. When I was 16, like most Genx’ers, I used to make mixtapes for the special people in my life. Being away for her Sweet 16, I thought this would be the perfect gift. One that keeps on giving.
The 80’s anad 90’s were the Golden Age of making mix tapes. Sometimes, I would sit and listen to the radio waiting for a song I wanted so I could include it in my mix. There was always a little bit of the advertisement at the beginning or the end of the song…. You really had to be quick with the play/rec button. It didn’t matter one hill of beans though, I got the song. I could live with a few seconds of babble in order to catch Men at Work “Who Could It Be Now?” BTW that was my dad’s ringtone and he always thought it was hysterical. The songs I included on this mixtape are all songs that have meant something from the beginning of this little ladies’ life to the present moment. I hope you enjoy the music and how each piece came to mean so much to me and my family.
“Layla” By Derrick and The Dominoes
My dad told me from a very young age, “Layla” by Derrick and The Dominoes was the best rock n’ roll song of all time. I never argued with him as I rather enjoyed watching his fingers roam the “keys” of his dashboard piano on the front end of his Cadillac Elderado. He really thought he was hot stuff in that car. I am pretty sure he had 6 or more in a row. The same new car every two years. Well, all that has nothing to do with the song or my daughter and the song is not the reason we named our angel Layla. Layla’s mom had a very close relationship with her paternal Grandmother and her name was Eulailia, folks called her Lala. Hard first “a” soft second. When we were picking names for our baby, I suggested we name a baby girl “Layla.” My then wife loved the idea and we did not have to talk about it any longer. I thought the whole thing was realy cool. Our baby girl was going to have a unique name but probably not overused as it is Arabic in its origin. There are way too many 16 year old “Madison’s” running around right now. My wife was over the top happy we were going to use a derivative of her Grandmother’s name, it meant the world to her and still does I am sure. All this in addition to the fact that I was more than pleased with myself for having come up with the idea on my own. As you can see this song has roots that run deep through our family music storeyhood.
“The Chokin’ Kind” and “Super Duper” By Joss Stone
When Layla was born, the doctor told my wife she could bring in a CD or two she enjoyed to play as background music while in labor. Joss Stone “The Soul Sessions” was the CD she brought. These are two of my favorite’s from that album. Remember the days when you would buy an entire album for only one or two songs? Both of these songs say so much about relationships and what a healthy one should look like. I am glad wifey #1 introduced me to this gem. Wifey #2 and I even jam to this one together 16 years later!
“You Are So Beautiful” By Joe Cocker
This is just the perfect song for any Father to daughter, husband to wife, mother to son… two people in love. My daughters are all “heaven’s gift to me.” Nuff said.
“Baby Beluga” By Raffi
This is my favorite childrens song of all time by my favorite children’s singer songwriter. We have the cardboard book version of this classic and I plan on reading the same copy to my grandchildren, God willing. Layla not only loved singing/reading Baby Beluga, but also enjoyed turning the pages with smiles and giggles everytime we picked up this classic. The entire album of Raffi classic’s is still something I pull up from my iTunes library and take a trip down memory lane.
“Under The Sea” From Little Mermaid (Samuel Wright)
Again, another classic that I find myself humming still to this day at a red light or waiting to check out at the grocery. I have not seen this movie in years but I think the girls and I need to have a Little Mermaid session. I am a sentimental and sensitive guy. I will never turn down snuggle time and a Disney classic with my angels. I hope they never get too old for snuggling with dad. It is exactly little moments such as these I live for. I can’t believe Little Mermaid is 31 years old.
“Friend Of The Devil” By Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter (Counting Crows cover)
This one has history, it has indeed been a long strange trip. I remember when Marc Baez gave me my first Grateful Dead tape in 7th grade. I wish more I had saved that tape. I clearly did not know what I had in my hands back then. I listened to The Grateful Dead in high school but did not really become a “Deadhead” until I was in college. During those years, I admit going to Dead shows was more about acting like an idiot than appreciating the culture and art. I was a pretty self centered kid. When I met my 2nd wife, one of my favorite things about her was we both liked camping and we both liked the same kind of music. If you are not familiar with The Grateful Dead, it’s very camping friendly music. Bluegrass and folk are other genres of music that wifey and I enjoy that our kids hate. I got lucky one day when Layla claimed “Friend of The Devil” to be her favorite “Jerry song.” I could not believe my daughter said those words, she actually liked a Grateful Dead song. Like all dad’s, I immediately took this to mean that she loved the Grateful Dead as much as I did. Let me be clear, she does not like the Grateful Dead and it does not look good for the future. Though I think John Mayer could peak my daughter’s interest in the coming years at a Dead & Co. show. It is this thinking that led me to include the Counting Crows version of this classic… maybe Jerry was just a little too much. Grateful Dead music has meant so much to me over the years, my hope is that my daughters will find their own musical northstar to guide them through the darkness this life so richly guarantees. Life “very seldom turns out the way it does in a song… sometimes, you can get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” “Scarlet Begonias” The Grateful Dead
“Glorious” By Macklemore
OK, this song makes me cry everytime I watch this video, really the message is in the video. My daughters and I are alike in many ways. One of the most special ways we are similar is we all have/had very deep relationships with our grandparents. Meme, Popo, Grandmother, and DeDe. My girls call their grandparents, Mamoo, Papa, Grandma, and Grandpa. In addition to the freedom having your drivers license gives a 16 year old, I think Layla was most excited to to drive to the suburbs on her own or with her sister to visit their grandparents. All four of their biological grandparents live in the same village West of the city where their mom and I grew up. I have a ton of stories with Popo and Dede, similar to the ones Macklemore has with his grandma in the video. While my daughters have lost two of their 5 grandfathers… lots of “step” in this family, three of their grandmothers are still with us. None of these women are the type to throw eggs on someone’s house or wear a “fresh pair of kicks.” I hope they make as many memories as possible with these special people… Ahhhh Grandparents. There are many many more stories I can share but I would rather you recall your own special grandparent memories.
“One Love” By Macklemore
This song is how I taught my daughters to respect all human beings and how they choose to live their lives. I just played the song over and over, knowing that they would get the message. Music is a can opener for the soul, it really works! ALWAYS look for the similarities and not the differences. Nuff said.
“Lean On Me” By Bill Withers
Well, this is a great lesson to teach any child. Not only is it healthy to ask others for help, but one can simply not get through this life without help from others. There is also the message that life is suffering and we need others to lean on to get through the tough times. This is a very comforting song. Dede used to play this one along with Lou Rawls when we would run errands together on Saturday mornings. So many Memories…
“Memories” By Maroon 5
Let’s first talk about how much the other members of Maroon 5 hate Adam Levine. Does anyone even know who they are or their names. Huh… maybe they like it this way. Well this is a good song to end on as this whole essay has been about all the memories Layla, myself, and the rest of the family have made over the last 16 years. She is a beauty to watch grow and make her own mistakes on this life’s journey. Godspeed, Layla… Let the good times ROLL TIDE… DIDO!
I LOVE YOU,