I know I have music inside of me. I just have no idea where it came from.
My parents never listen to music. My mom enjoys a little talk radio now and then, but my dad is the real mystery. He spends two hours in the car every day driving to and from work in silence. No talk shows, no radio, nothing. I guess the man’s got a lot on his mind.
When I started asking for piano lessons at age 8, he started to realize that music was more than just a passing interest for me. One day on the way to school, my dad asked me if I wanted to hear the kind of music he liked. I was intrigued, to say the least. I mean this was the guy I never saw once turn the radio on. When I finally got the balls to start flipping through stations in his car, I had to actually turn the air condition down just to hear what song it was. So with his son’s piqued interest and a smile on his face, my dad opened the little tray in his armrest and handed me a short stack of cassettes. His entire music collection was as follows:
1. Barry Manilow, Greatest Hits Volumes 1, 2, and 3
2. Barbara Streisand, Back To Broadway
3. The Secret Garden, Original Broadway Score; and
4. Jesus Christ Superstar, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
That’s it. No Stones, no Zeppelin, not even a Beatles record. My dad lived through every major milestone in rock history—Elvis’ shimmy, The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, Hendrix at Woodstock, Dylan Goes Electric—and here he was with nothing to show for it. I would’ve killed to see any number of artists from the 60s and 70s play live, and he couldn’t even remember if they rolled through town. Sit my dad in front of any jukebox, and I swear he wouldn’t know “Stairway to Heaven” from “Like A Rolling Stone.”
Thing is, my dad, like my brothers, was a jock. He kicked ass on his high school football team, and fought a few bullies when he was a kid. He even became an avid canoeist when he got older, so much so that he signed up for the 1980 Summer Olympic trials in Moscow, until the U.S. boycotted them and he never got the chance to compete.
My brothers Ivan and Adam shared my dad’s fondness for sports and even eclipsed his talent. Ivan picked up a tennis racket when he was 8, and within a few tournaments it became clear he was a prodigy. Fast forward 10 years later and Ivan is #1 in the world on the Junior tennis circuit with Adam not far behind—he became #2 in the nation at age 16 right behind Ivan.
So where does this leave me? Uh, not so good at tennis. Ever been in a fight? Nope. How’s your canoeing skills? Nada. I’ll tell you what though, my CD collection kicks ass.