My old man was quite the cool dude in his youth, wearing sharp suits and listening to Frank Sinatra, Dave Brubeck, and the Modern Jazz Quartet. But just as his marriage didn’t survive the social and cultural upheaval of the 1960s, his old taste in music didn’t either, by the 1970s he’d dropped all that square stuff and was listening to adult-oriented soft rock like James Taylor, Paul Simon, and The Eagles. He’d also grown a beard and wore his hair longer so he looked like a mellow Californian soft-rocker too.
As an opinionated young man into The Jam and Joy Division I was very disdainful of the “hippie rubbish” my Dad liked and knew that the older stuff he liked was far cooler. He used to have a party at his house every summer and at one of them I put his old Getz/Gilberto album on the stereo only to come back into the room a little while later to find that he’d taken it off and put on Hotel California instead. I was appalled and tried to explain to him just how naff he was being but I suppose it’s the job of your parents to embarrass you.
The record that reminds me most of my old man is Steve Winwood’s 1980 album Arc of a Diver which he played all the time, especially the opening track “While You See a Chance” which would set him off grooving around his living room in a very Dad-like way (I dance like that myself now). That synth intro always washes over me like a Proustian wave bringing back memories of parties at his house in my 20s, thinking I was very grown-up drinking Scotch and Ginger Ale, talking about movies with my Dad, and smoking joints with my Uncle Peter.
I can’t say I loved the album at the time but I didn’t leave the room muttering snottily when he put it on either because Winwood had one of the best white-soul voices the UK has ever produced and the synths on it made it sound fairly modern. The title track is very good too in a jazzy-soul way with lyrics by the great English eccentric Viv Stanshall.
My Dad was in his 40s around this time which is younger than I am now, and I must admit that I do enjoy the occasional Paul Simon or Fleetwood Mac record myself these days, a lot more than I ever play Joy Division. I still think Stan Getz is cooler than The Eagles though.