By: Cameron Keuning
The first real song I ever heard (not some little kid nonsense) was “Love Me Do” by The Beatles. My first favorite song was “All My Loving,” also by The Beatles. I was 5 years old, and my dad was piping early Beatles’ music throughout the house, as most of his other favorite music was not exactly kid-appropriate. It was at this early age that I fell in love with the music my dad played. As I got older, he introduced me to all kinds of music: from Simon and Garfunkel to Jimi Hendrix; from the Talking Heads to Pearl Jam. I loved the music he listened to as I grew up, and among other things, it has been one of the foundations of the great relationship we have together.
Some of my most distinct memories have come from listening to music from my dad. Listening to music with him was more than mere listening, it was learning about the music itself, and more importantly, about my dad’s life. He would tell me stories about the first time he heard a song, or about how a song was important to him at a certain moment in his life. I recall distinctly a summer night between my freshman and sophomore years in high school. He told me about his first date with my mom, and how the recently-released song “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty came on the radio. They both loved the song, and it was one of the many things that sparked their relationship. Later that night, I learned that my dad wanted to be buried with the song “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds. I had never pegged him for a Breakfast Club fan, but you learn something new every day!
There was a time, however, when I wanted nothing to do with listening to music with my dad. When I was in 5th grade, he and I were sitting outside around a fire, and he was really introducing me to Led Zeppelin. I knew a few of their songs, but we were listening to full albums (on CD). I vividly remember being near the end of Led Zeppelin II when he gave me the talk. We had just begun sex ed in my school, and I was mortified when he brought up the subject. When the album finished, he said to me, “we’ll have another conversation about that later.” Because I had associated this awkward experience with listening to music with him, I went a solid two months without listening to music alone with him.
Today, our shared love of music has kept our bond strong while I am here at U of M, away from my family. We listen to music every chance we get, and we share new music with each other all the time. By this, I don’t necessarily mean modern music (we have a shared disdain for most, but not all, modern music); rather, music that we like now that we didn’t before. I’ve grown to greatly appreciate Jimi Hendrix in the past year, and introduced him to an instrumental cover of “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream. He took me to a concert over Christmas of a newer rock band out of Frankenmuth, Michigan called Greta Van Fleet, whose music neither of us could get enough of.
I know that I would have a good relationship with my dad without music, but having this common interest has strengthened our bond. I am confident that it is something which we will always share. And with our relationship having been cultivated through our love and appreciation of the same music, I know that, should I be blessed with children of my own someday, music is something that I would be honored to share with them.