Tuesday, July 30, 2013
An Ode To My Dad - The Ballad of John Gonzalez
I sat down to write more than once in these last few weeks. I actually wrote and rewrote this piece a few dozen times in my head. I thought about not mentioning the passing of my dad on here but to do that would mean not acknowledging the inspiration for my music snobbiness or inspiration for how I plan to go forward in this next phase of my life. Some you never knew my dad.
This man was one of a kind...He picked up stray dogs and gave them homes when others just drove by, he helped his friends and family any time he could, and let me tell you he had friends. So many so that when I would go with him places it seemed like everyone knew who my dad was and he would sit there talking to them forever while I sat there bored wondering why we had to talk to so and so. It wasn't to be gossipy, it was for him to catch up with that friend, see what was going on in there life with their family, friends, jobs, whatever not because he was nosy or a busy body. Because he truly cared about people and knew what to say to make them laugh and feel good about life..
He was a good man. One who filled this now much too quiet house with laughter, music, and memories. Growing up as his kid was always fun. In many ways he was a big kid with an enthusiasm for life, always confident, never afraid to stand up for something he believed in, and always taking me on little adventures with him. These adventures were small, big, and always fun. Sometimes they would be just around the corner. Sometimes they would be trips to the coast or that one Vegas Road trip as a family. Sometimes it would just be an adventure in our own yard just helping fix something. Either way the times spent with him always contained music. I remember driving around and we always listened to what he wanted to listen to. Listening to my New Kids on the Block cassette was out of the question. He listened to everything from Waylon, Willie, The Band, The Allman Brothers, Pink Floyd, Journey, Grateful Dead, Linda Rondstadt, I mean just about everything. I could keep going but I would be here all night telling you the names. He would sing along, make up his own words to songs, and tell me stories about the time he saw them in concert, how it was, or even the time he got to meet that person he was talking about. He loved music, he loved lyrics, and songs that meant something to him. It was my dad who introduced the music of Robert Earl Keen on that one Vegas road trip. At sixteen when I wanted more than anything to defy every thing he told me I needed to do and thought I knew more than he ever did. During this trip it was pretty much a mix of cassette he made with his favorites of Live No.2 dinner and Journey...A weird combo to some but to his friends that spoke at his memorial service, a combination that wouldn't seem out of the ordinary for him. You really have no idea how much I had to listen to Lights by Journey and Five Pound Bass or Gringo Honeymoon....You too would have sworn off those songs if you were in the truck...This trip also marks the greatest concert memory I have with my dad. The time he took me to see Bob Dylan at House Of Blues. Now let me explain I knew Bob was important to the fabric of music at this time. At that age, I wasn't as familiar to his songs as I should have been. I just remember knowing that this occasion was going to be important to my life in some way. It was one of those weird intuitive gut feelings I get from time to time. Can't really explain it...I know that sounds really weird to think that at sixteen, but I did...Either way, somewhere in my defiance of good ole dad and growing up our music choices started to grow closer in tune with each other. A lot of the music I listened to from The Great Divide, Cross Canadian Ragweed, and Kevin Fowler was coming out around the time I was graduating high school. My dad as turns out was listening to the same stuff too...In fact we actually one time had a full on argument over who actually starting listening to The Great Divide first and who it was that had purchased Into The Afterglow. Clearly in the case for my argument it couldn't have been him. There was no way he was that cool. I also stand behind the fact that I searched Walmart, Target, and anywhere else I could before I convinced my mother that she just had to buy that cd at Borders when I finally found it. Keep in mind this was the period in which if he told me how I needed to do something a certain way I went right back out and did the opposite. Eventually we both realized that together we both had equally good music tastes...Can't say the same for my Michael Buble, Barbara Streisand loving mom or death metal guitar playing little bro...United we stood on our tastes in music. Our only arguments at this point became who knew more about the bands, songwriters, and who really owned the cd, me or him. He was actually the first person to tell me I needed to listen to Stoney Larue. It was only fitting that the first time I saw Stoney, it was my dad's present to me for my 23rd birthday. It was when Stoney, Cody Canada, and Wade Bowen were touring with LeAnn Womack. It was also my dad who snuck me past Shannon Canada who looked like she could easily have beat me for getting "backstage" at Gruene Hall all so my dad could get me a picture with them. I made my dad listen to Texas Renegade, Bleu Edmondson, Jackson Parten among others and would catch him listening to those songs from his ipod. When he was in good health a few years back I would go to county line on Wednesday nights and there I would run into my dad who was just as big a fan of the live shows as me. He would leave with autographed koozies, stickers, cd and in the case of Texas Renegade a signed Harmonica. He was the person I would tell on a Sunday morning how cool a show was or wasn't. This week I got offered an opportunity to sell merch at Luckenbach. I was so excited about it. I still am, but then it hit me the one person I wanted to call and tell and be excited with isn't here sitting in our kitchen singing songs and telling jokes anymore. It's funny to me that the show I am selling merch in will have Bruce Robison on the bill amongst others. My dad was a Bruce Robison fan but not a George Strait fan. As some of you know Bruce has had some of his songs be recorded by George Strait. My dad's friend told me a story that till recently I had never heard before. My dad was in radio at one point in his life, (his dad,my grandfather owned a small radio station in Floresville.) he had a lot of strong opinions on the songs and who he was playing. When George Strait released Amarillo by Morning after he had heard it from Clifton Jansky my dad said of Strait "Who is this hick trying to do this Clifton Jansky song? He (George Strait) will be a flash in the pan. " So while my dad was wrong about George Strait it goes to show that my dad had an appreciation for good music and songwriting. I have a few things I get to carry with me in life now that remind me of him, his acoustic guitar that neither of us ever really learned how to play like we wanted to and that vast music collection of cassettes, cd's and old records that he kept throughout his lifetime, and a lot of great memories.
In the twenty nine years I got to spend with my dad I learned a lot from him, mostly how to live in this world without losing sight of what is important. Family, friends, and overall enjoying all good things that come with life. I am not saying that he was perfect, but he did the best he could with what he had. Before he died he told me "People in this life will ask more from you than you might be willing to give and it's ok. Just know that no matter what all I want from you to is be the best. What ever it is...I don't care if you go out there and get a job making sandwiches. All I ask is you be the best damn sandwich maker out there." So there is my task in life, to be the best. Whether it's this blog, the day job, making sandwiches, or what ever else happens in this life. When I did something that impressed my dad he never would openly say you did a good job. He instead would say of course you did good, I taught you everything you know. I know one day my time will come and when I reach those pearly gates and see him I hope that I lived a life that will make him say you did good, cause I taught you everything you know...