Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Singing what I can’t say

THE FIRST RECORD I ever owned of my own choosing (there was a previous Christmas gift of an Alvin and The Chipmunks novelty single) was “Ferry Cross the Mersey” by Gerry & The Pacemakers, in the early ‘60s. I was about six when I badgered my parents into buying the 45 for me after I heard the song on the radio.

Something about that two-and-a-half-minute number stirred a place deep in my young soul. I was captivated by the singer’s yearning for the land he loved, somehow imagining that he was recalling his homeland from some forgotten exotic corner of the world. Little did I know he was celebrating the 10-minute, one-mile crossing of the muddy Mersey between Liverpool and Birkenhead.           

But then, rock music has always done that for me—somehow taken the everyday and made it something special, giving voice and emotion to something I wasn’t very clear about. One of the reasons that I became a music lover at a young age was that it put words and melodies to things I was feeling but had no way of really identifying or articulating. Others sang what I didn’t know how to say.

Much as I love playing music, it has always been others’—not my own. Apart from a brief period of obligatory instruction on the recorder, I never had the dexterity, the discipline or the desire to master an instrument. That is something I regret now that I am older.

But though I did not pass on an aptitude for music to my children, I did give them an appreciation for it. Even if, despite serious exposure while they were young, they never learned to value the artistry of bands like Yes and Runrig (you can’t win them all). However, my oldest son, Matt, does credit me with nurturing his lifelong love for music, and notably an introduction to the works of Van Morrison. So, I guess I have not been a total failure.

Even more rewarding has been to see him take that love for music and create his own. As a singer-songwriter, Matt has toured with The Avett Brothers (whose Seth Avett’s cover of Matt’s song, “A Famous Country Singer,” has been viewed 370,000 times on YouTube) and opened for the likes of Kenny Rogers and Loretta Lynn. At a couple of big-name shows where he was first on the bill, I couldn’t help myself: I went down the line of folks waiting for tickets, telling them to be sure to watch out for the opening act because he was my boy, and he was really good. Very Dad, but not very rock and roll.

Matt’s just released his latest album, Oceans, which you can check out here. It takes me back to being a kid again, touched in a way that I can’t really explain, but which moves me. Maybe it will do the same for you.


 [KW1]I assume you are going to add a hyperlink, but I couldn’t click it to listen.

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