Growing up in my household you’d notice several things being repeated daily: me chasing my younger brother to hug and kiss him and occasionally nag him, my mom cooking and going out of her way to convince us, her extremely picky children, to eat the food she was putting on the table, and my dad blasting music whenever he could. He loved music! Oh, boy, how he loved listening to music! My most vivid memories of him revolve around his passion for this form of art and how he would incorporate that in his day to day activities.
Let me set the picture and elaborate further. I am talking about post-Communist Romania, a freshly democratic state trying to catch up with the West; what better way to do that than by watching MTV?!?! That is back when MTV used to play music videos and had decent programming. I’m talking about the MTV of the 90’s, to be more exact. My father’s generation had little access to the cultural movements that were taking place in Europe, freedom of speech was not encouraged, and they were forced fed “educational” shows that were in line with the Communist Party policy. Censorship was in full effect and everyone was mindful of who to trust even when sharing personal taste in music or books. This is why I consider myself lucky to have grown up in post-revolutionary Romania, back then you could actually appreciate freedom of expression and people were not taking it for granted. Therefore, a lot of my childhood memories involve Dad turning on the TV and letting MTV play in the background while he would turn up the volume every time a song he liked came on.
My father was a seafarer, which meant that he would spend up to 6 months a year aboard a commercial vessel travelling the world or better put, its oceans and seas. Upon returning home, he would always bring us something from his voyages. Cue to my first ever walkman. For all you born prior to the Apple revolution or after the year 2000 this is the great grandfather of the iPod. I remember being so happy that I could finally listen to whatever type of music I wanted even if that meant having to buy cassette tapes (another ancient word that bares no meaning to today’s youth). But the biggest joy of all occurred when dad brought me my first cassette/ CD player. I was bursting with pride and excitement. You had 3 methods of listening to music – via cassette, CD or radio. Talk about upgrade! This is when dad introduced me to the kind of music he liked. From this moment on I embraced artists such as: Aerosmith, UB40, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Dire Straits, Peter Gabriel, Status Quo, Celine Dion, BB King, Eric Clapton and many more. He had some very eclectic musical tastes, my dad. Something which I inherited myself, thankfully. Apart from the devices themselves, he would also buy CDs, lots of them, and share them with me. I can’t even begin to describe how precious these memories are to me and how much I appreciate being given a musical culture courtesy of my father.
My dad passed away 5 years ago, 2 months short of turning 50. He had battled cancer bravely and with dignity but his body decided it couldn’t do it anymore. Although he knew that he had passed on to me his love of music, I never really got the chance to tell him “thank you”. I never really got to tell him how he influenced my entire existence, how because of him my world, my life, my adventures, my sorrows, my core values feel and sound so much better. I will always regret not being able to take him to a concert with me and never having the opportunity to dance next to him. However, while I was recently reading Amy Poehler’s supremely sincere and fascinating book “Yes Please”, I got attached to an excerpt where she describes time travelling or at least her interpretation of it. It is really sweet and I’m sure many of us have felt something similar throughout our lives. About a week afterwards, I went to the mechanic’s to have my car fixed (I am currently driving my dad’s car) and out of the blue the CD player in the car started to function again (it had been broken for some time and I never really had time to fix it). As the first song began to play, I realised that I had made that CD for my father years ago. It had on a couple of UB40 tracks, one of his all time favourite bands, as well as some more contemporary stuff like The Chemical Brothers and Moby. I told you the man had eclectic taste :). I was obviously transported to that period when dad was healthy, alive and enjoying turning up the volume. I drove the rest of the way crying and remembering all the times he was able to put a huge smile on my face. I was crying and laughing at the same time and basically time travelling my way out of that situation.
So, “THANK YOU, DAD!” I miss you and I need you!