Wednesday, March 2, 2011

When dads are wrong...

Dennis De Young is pictured on the far left, looking more like
a painter in parachute pants than the lead singer of a band...

It doesn't happen very often. Dads can be wrong. At least my dad can.

When I was about 15 or 16, I fancied myself a singer. I had sung in choirs and operettas all the way through public school and I was quite good. That is, until I started listening and singing to songs not on my dad's preferred list. My father grew up in the 30s and 40s. He was  born in 1932 and was exposed to some of the greatest music in the history of the world (his words, not mine). Big band... trumpets, clarinets, saxamaphones... you name it, he loved it. And, when I was younger I loved it too. I learned how to do the fox trot to the stylings of Count Bassie, Louis Armstrong. In the Mood was my favourite song, though Little Brown Jug was a close second.

Then I entered my teens and Count Bassie was replaced by Wham!, INXS, Depeche Mode, but my favours were reserved for one band and one band only... Styx. I was in much infatuation with one Dennis De Young. It would have been Tommy Shaw since he is the cuter one, but a friend of mine had already secured him as her boyfriend. Runner-up... Dennis De Young. I sang their songs every chance I could get. I played them over and over again, so much that my ghetto blaster ate two of cassettes that I had painstakenly recorded from the 33. Yes, people, an actual record that people spun on turntables. The cassette tape stretched, snapped and I felt the tears come on. How was I supposed to sing about Mr. Roboto and the fact that music as we knew it would disappear?

My father hoped and prayed for the demise of Mr. Roboto and any other song I chose to play at top volume on the ghetto blaster that he regretted buying me for Christmas. As he so lovingly and repeatedly pointed out: "Styx stinks. Count Bassie is King." I thought it was Elvis Presley but that was just me... his king was Big Band and that was the only music worth listening to.

He also thought it was his place to school me on my singing. Me, a regular choir member who won place after place in the choir, year after year, performing in as many operettas as I can recall. His reasoning: No one else was going to be so lovingly honest by telling me that I sounded like a dying cat. It was years before I sang in public again for fear of attracting a band of feral cats.

Years later, he now suffers from a selective memory and tells me he's always loved my singing and remembers fondly the times I would sing around the house (P.S. I'm always singing and will even sing to the dog if I'm inclined).

Friends of mine are regulars at karaoke and had invited me to come along. And, they convinced me to sing. It was my first time on stage in a long while (I had taken singing lessons back when my divorce first became final - it was a rebirth of sorts). Kenny had brought his new recorder (he'd bought one to capture his performances as part of a speed metal band) and turned it on for one of my performances. He played it back to me the other day and  it took me a minute to realize it was me who was singing and it was actually good.

I sang "I will remember you." The notes were dead on, the tone was mellifulous and I thought "damn, now that is not what a dying cat sounds like." I wonder if I can manage a Styx song now and if I'd remember all the words. One thing is for certain: Dennis De Young is not the hot tamale I thought he was. And what's with those pants!?!?


  1. I used to love Styx, too. I remember the Paradise Hotel album with the holographic image on the vinyl. or maybe it wasn't actually holographic - I'm not sure they had those back then. Also - that was not a good era for pants in general. I have photos to prove it.

  2. Denis DeYoung? Yeah, I don't have anything to talk about though -- I loved the curly haired guy in Air Supply.

    And I bet you have a lovely voice.