The family home, mid-1970s.
To say my father loved music was and is an understatement. The only problem was that he loved music that was not cool to a 10 year old (not until that 10 year old grew up). My dad played, listened and sadly danced in public to whatever drum that he heard.
I grew up in the 1970’s listening to opera and country & western played by my parents on a 3 in 1 (kids can google that). We used to have a radiogram until it got hit by lightning.
I can’t remember if my brother and I liked either opera or country & western at the time: I was just happy to hear something. We did not have a TV until 1978. We were rarely inside while it was light outside, no need for one I guess.
Dad was a wonderful, scary, pained human. Flaws that you could hang bed sheets on, but he would fight, literally, for anyone who needed help. Without question. It did not matter what you had done, if you needed help the old fella was there for you. And the women loved him without question, but he was taken. These are some of the things I think of when I hear Hank Williams.
I see Dad strumming his guitar and singing to any female within eyesight, usually my Ma, if he was smart (and sober). He always used to say he was born a Scottish lad and he would die a Scottish lad.
I remember my wife (now my ex-wife) being confused when I bought a Hank Williams CD to replace a busted Brooks and Dunne tape. Brookes and Dunne were all the rage, but I could not stand them myself. What scared her further was my love of the blues and 50’s music – but that’s another story.
My brother and I were not close, geographically or through hugs. He’s a father of three, and me, I’m a ‘ failed adult ‘ as his wife would say to anyone who would listen.
But my brother and I developed a social relationship about 10 years ago. We were in a pub in Sydney with a few mates very late in the day, down from Brisbane for the footy. Talk got around to music our parents listen to. When I said that one of my favourite artists was Hank Williams, everyone laughed, except my brother. He gave me big long hug and I realised that he was crying.
We sat down and talked about Dad; I was closer to Dad than my brother, spent a couple of years with Dad before he died.
It’s funny what you learn from music as a 35 year old. Sounds corny, but our mutual love of a dead C&W singer actually cemented something of a friendship between my brother and I. I love all of Hank Williams’s songs but my personal favourite is Move It On Over. Great song.
Here are some favourite music memories of my Dad:
Asking me, when I was a 10 year old, what I wanted to hear when we got our first 3 in 1. From memory he ignored me, but it was nice to be asked.
Dancing (including pointing) to The Beatles’ Get Back at my 18th. (Extra points to Dad for wearing a Hawaiian shirt at the time)
Guitar tattoos on both forearms (done in the late 50’s) with scrolls with ‘Mum’ on one arm and ‘Ellen’ (my Ma) on the other, above the guitars. I have Dad’s 59 Gretsch tattooed on my left forearm. I did not have the guts to get it when the old fella was alive though. He hated his tatts, he got them as a young Teddy boy, said they held him back from jobs.
Listening to my Dad play Vincent on the front veranda. Ciggie shoved into the strings and a bottle of Rum at his feet. He could and would only sing after a few rums.
Singing Hey Good Looking, at his 25th wedding anniversary. Sober and without his guitar, it was the most peaceful I ever saw him. I’ve never seen two people more happy with themselves than my Ma & Dad at that time. He died the following year.