Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
The nation’s first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in the state of Washington. However, it was not until 1972, 58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day official, that the day honoring fathers became a nationwide holiday in the United States.
Many men, however, continued to disdain the day. As one historian writes, they “scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself.”
During the 1920s and 1930s, a movement arose to scrap Mother’s Day and Father’s Day altogether in favor of a single holiday, Parents’ Day.
However, the Great Depression derailed this effort to combine and de-commercialize the holidays. Struggling retailers and advertisers redoubled their efforts to make Father’s Day a “second Christmas” for men, promoting goods such as neckties, hats, socks, pipes and tobacco, golf clubs and other sporting goods, and greeting cards.
In 1972, in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday at last.
Let’s be real. There are no ‘knock your socks off’ Father’s Day songs.
That does not deter the creativity of yours truly with developing an appropriate assortment of tunes that still fit. Especially when the list is all about really good guys. So let’s get started.
When the group Stray Cats led by Brian Setzer split in 1984, Setzer chose to abandon for the most part his rockabilly focus. After forming his own big band Setzer helped usher in the swing revival of the 1990’s.
The song “Good Rockin’ Daddy” was written by Richard Berry and Joe Josea and was first recorded and released by Etta James with Maxwell Davis & his Orchestra in 1955.
We like to begin with a rousing opener as often as possible.
Remember. Dads are cool.
In 2019, after a successful summer reunion tour with ’80s hitmakers Stray Cats, tinnitus, a constant ringing in his ears, forced Setzer to cancel his annual holiday shows with the Brian Setzer Orchestra.
“I needed to put the brakes on. Forty years on the road,” Setzer said. “This [pandemic] made me slow down because I probably wouldn’t have. So it was good timing.”
So Setzer recorded a solo album, in isolation, remotely, his first solo album in seven years.
What’s tinnitus like?
“Dealing with tinnitus — picture a tea kettle going off in your head all the time — it was maddening. It never goes away. You deal with it. I felt despondent that I wouldn’t be able to use my nice big Fender amp again.”
We can usually find a way to weave Elvis into any theme.
In late 1967/early 1968, Elvis was still under contract to crank out some movies for a couple of years, and desperately was craving some quality recording material. Guitarist and songwriter Jerry Reed came to the rescue. Some critics said this Reed composition smacked of chauvinism. Others said it was just typical Southern male braggadocio.
“U.S. Male” was no “Jailhouse Rock” but it was a minor hit. Recorded just prior to Elvis’ highly- acclaimed leather clad 1968 Comeback Special Reed’s song paved the way for that slice of TV history. In reality for Elvis the time period was a comeback before the comeback. Before “U.S. Males” Elvis made some waves with the singles “Big Boss Man” and “Guitar Man.” Both would be featured in the TV special.
Sales of (U.S. Male) were encouraging (close to half a million copies), chart position improved a little, but, more important, a new generation of Elvis fans was listening. As the Boston Phoenix, one of the first in the wave of underground weeklies just beginning to emerge, was moved to note: “In the past six months Elvis has put out three singles which in their vitality rival anything in pop music today…”
To repeat, there just aren’t all that many great, or even very good Father’s Day songs.
Oh Mein Papa – Eddie Fisher
Butterfly Kisses – Bob Carlisle
Daddy Sang Bass – Johnny Cash
Here’s one that fits into our theme this week, from 1969.
The Winstons firmly are entrenched into that “one-hit wonder” category. They were an inter-racial group that got their start in Washington D.C. The lead singer, Richard Spencer was inspired to write a song about a stepfather that treated his stepchildren as if they were his own. Spencer’s “real” dad left town and his family on a Greyhound bus and was not “killed in the war” as he wrote in the song.
What an interesting twist. This successful record about a father is really a song about a stepfather.
“Color Him Father” reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1969. It also won an R & B Grammy Award.
Our next selection is a bona fide Father’s Day song, written and recorded by country artist Holly Dunn as a gift for her dad in 1986. At the time she wrote it her parents had been married for more than 40 years. Her mother was a painter, and her father a Church Of Christ minister.
“I could see every time I did ‘Daddy’s Hands,’ people were weeping,” Dunn said about the reaction the song received from her audiences.
“It was like: ‘What is going on here?’ I was looking around at the band: ‘Now, what the heck? Something’s really happening when I do this song.’ So, when it came time to try to figure out what (my) fourth single was going to be, I brought up to the record label guys and I said: ‘Look, something’s happening out here. I don’t know what’s happening but something’s really happening with this song. I think we should consider putting this out because it really seems to be touching people.'”
Dunn earned two Grammy nominations for “Daddy’s Hands”: Best Country Vocal Performance and Best Country & Western Song.
In 2016 Dunn died of ovarian cancer at the age of 59.
Before our close this brief clip.
Think of the great television dads.
Ben Cartwright, Bonanza.
Howard Cunningham, Happy Days.
Ward Cleaver, Leave it to Beaver.
Mike Brady, The Brady Bunch.
Andy Taylor, Andy Griffith Show.
How about Tom Corbett, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father?
Bill Bixby played Tom and Brandon Cruz played his son Eddie. Tom is a widower and magazine publisher raising his young mischievous son who wants a new mom so bad he does all he can to manipulate his dad’s relationships. Harry Nilsson wrote and sang the theme song over the credits, played after Tom and Eddie had a weekly cute chat.
The program aired from 1969-1972.
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
“I’ve jumped out of helicopters and done some daring stunts and played baseball in a professional stadium, but none of it means anything compared to being somebody’s daddy.”
“A father’s smile has been known to light up a child’s entire day.”
“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”
“To the world, you are a dad. But to our family, you are the world.”