Category Archives: Modern Day Dad

Stories about the life of a Hard Rock Daddy and his rock and roll children.

Things My Father Said

Things My Father Said

Father’s Day is a very important day for Hard Rock Daddy because of what it represents – the everlasting bond between a father and his children.  Without the influence of my dad, Hard Rock Daddy would not exist, at least in its current form.  This day has always been bittersweet for me since becoming a dad because I tragically lost my dad less than a year before my first child was born.  It’s been nearly 13 years since his passing, but I can still hear my dad’s words ringing in my ear, and often times, out of my mouth with my own children.  Sharing stories about my dad with my children has given them a connection to him that goes much deeper than a memory of a man that they never got the chance to meet.

Last year, on the first Father’s Day after the launch of Hard Rock Daddy, I put out my Top 5 Hard Rock Songs For Father’s Day.  It was a challenging list to compile because of the scarcity of songs in the genre that pay tribute to fathers.   Out of all the songs on the list, one stood above the rest because it described my feelings almost perfectly.  Black Stone Cherry’s “Things My Father Said” captures the emotions that are felt by a son who loses his dad at a relatively young age, but never got the chance to say goodbye.

Even though it was nearly 13 years ago, I still remember our last goodbye, but I didn’t know that it was going to be the last one at the time.  We were celebrating the birth of the first grandchild in the family, and my dad was beaming with pride as he held that little bundle of joy in his arms.  It is an iconic picture in our family to this day.  Sadly, his grandfather days lasted only about a month or so before his untimely passing.  That little baby in the picture turned 13 this Father’s Day weekend, a number that really makes you appreciate how much time has gone by and how quickly it seems to have happened.

Since that day, three other grandchildren have been born, including my two children.  None of the kids ever got the chance to know the man who would have been affectionately known as “Poppy,” but they all love him just the same.  His time on earth was short, but the impact that he made will last a lifetime.

My dad never really sat me or my siblings down to teach specific life lessons; he just shared his thoughts with us on a regular basis in an honest, and often times, hilarious way.  Because he didn’t intend to share these lessons in a formal way, he may never have known the impact that they had on me.  I don’t think that I realized them myself until I became a dad, and started sharing them with my children.

I can relate to so many of the lyrics in “Things My Father Said,” but a few of them still get to me whenever I hear the song…

“I hope my father knows the seeds that we’ve sewn still grow”

“One thing I will never forget is the day that I lost you”

Losing my father is something that I have never gotten over.  The passage of time has eased the pain of his loss, but there is a void in my life that simply cannot be filled.  I’ll never forget the day that I lost my dad, but more importantly, I’ll never forget all of the memories that we created and the lessons that he taught me that have helped me to become the dad that I am today to my kids.  On this and every Father’s Day, I remember the “things my father said” and smile, even if it is with a heavy heart.

 

“Things My Father Said” lyrics (see video below)

The things my father said would make me a better man

Hard work and the love of friends, a woman that understands

I hope my father knows the seeds we’ve sewn still grow

At night I go to sleep and pray he is watching over me

 

Somewhere there’s a star that’s shining

So bright that I can see your smile

And all that I need is one last chance

Just to hear you, you say goodbye

 

Sometimes I remember when you taught me to tie my shoes

One thing I will never forget is the day that I lost you

I hope you always know the car that we built will always roll

 

Somewhere there’s a star that’s shining

So bright that I can see your smile

And all that I need is one last chance

Just to hear you say goodbye

 

And if you have a dream you better hang on for dear life

And when that cold wind blows, just let it pass you by

Yeah…things my father said

Yeah, yeah… yeah, yeah, yeah

 

Somewhere there’s a star that’s shining

So bright that I can see your smile

And all that I need is one last chance

Just to hear you, you say goodbye, goodbye

Just to hear you say….goodbye

Hard Rock Daddy Celebrates 1st Anniversary (Part 2 of 2)

Hard Rock Daddy 1st Anniversary

On March 1, 2013, an article entitled “Enter Sandman” kicked off the official launch of HardRockDaddy.com.  At that time, the plan for the site was to create a unique offering that would focus on hard rock music from the perspective of a modern-day dad.  Over the course of the past year, the site has evolved into a destination of choice for hard rock music fans.  In a relatively short time span, Hard Rock Daddy has amassed a tremendous international following.  As of today, the site is read in 167 countries around the world, and averages nearly 50,000 page views per month.

Although the focus of the site has shifted more towards hard rock music than fatherhood, articles like “Rock and Roll Children: Top Hard Rock Songs of 2013,” and the ongoing series Hard Rock Music Time Machine have allowed Hard Rock Daddy to stay true to the original plan of offering something unique and personal.

Each week, many Hard Rock Daddy readers look forward to the recap of the weekly Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown and corresponding YouTube playlist (which can also be found on www.HardRockDaddyNetwork.com).  The archived playlists – which date back to March of 2013 – give readers the opportunity to go back and discover music at their convenience.  Not surprisingly, in an “on-demand” world, this has become one of the most popular features on the site.

Other weekly features include a recap of Billboard’s Hard Rock Album Chart and Three For Thursday.  A recap of That Metal Show is also provided on a weekly basis during each season.

Looking back at Hard Rock Daddy’s first year, numerous moments stand out for one reason or another, but the most impactful ones were as follows:

In addition to the features that readers have come to expect from Hard Rock Daddy, plans are afoot for new features to be added during the coming year.  Details of these plans will be revealed in the coming months.

Thank you to all of the Hard Rock Daddy readers around the world for helping to turn a dream into a reality.  Without all of you, none of this would have been possible!

RELATED ARTICLES:

Hard Rock Daddy Celebrates 1st Anniversary (Part 1 of 2)

Hard Rock Daddy Celebrates 1st Anniversary (Part 1 of 2)

 

Hard Rock Daddy 1st Anniversary

March 1, 2014 marks the first anniversary of Hard Rock Daddy.  The original intention was to have a single celebratory post, however, on this momentous day, circumstances beyond my control made the day much less about hard rock and much more about being a daddy (although the family did listen to the Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown together while driving in the car).  Since it didn’t seem right to let this day pass without acknowledging its significance, and because the day is almost over, the decision was made to turn the celebration into a 2-part article.  Please check back tomorrow for a recap of the past year and plans for the future for Hard Rock Daddy.

A Newfound Appreciation of the Record Store Experience

Mr. Cheapo's

During the recent holiday school break, which was extended by arctic conditions in the Northeast, my family and I returned to my hometown for a visit.  One of the hidden gems in the area is a small, cluttered record store with a very distinct odor, musty with a trace of incense.  The dated wall paneling, reminiscent of a suburban basement of the 1980’s, is mostly hidden by posters, all of which are for sale.

Unlike big box stores that stock popular CDs as loss leaders to get people in the door, this small record store uses every inch of its limited real estate to stock unique offerings that cater to fans of all genres.  From rare concert CDs to classic vinyl, both new and used, this little oasis serves as a nostalgic reminder of days gone by, when music was viewed as a valuable commodity.

Music is so readily available to today’s youth in a digital form that they no longer value it in the same way as those of us who grew up before the Internet existed.  For the most part, the younger generation views music as something that they are entitled to enjoy for free, like broadcast television or terrestrial radio.  It’s hard to blame them when most have never set foot in a record store.

The time that I spent with my son in this local record store during our visit was not planned.  We happened to be in the shopping center because my daughter was shopping at a girly retail store with a gift card that she got for the holidays.  Knowing full well that my daughter’s decision-making process is time consuming (to say the least), we knew that we had plenty of time to kill.

Rather than walk around the store with my son, I decided to let him explore on his own while I checked out the variety of hard rock and metal albums in the ample vinyl section.

I came across a brand new copy of Metallica’s Master Of Puppets, and nearly fell over when I saw the price tag – $51.99!  All of the vinyl in new condition was very pricey, proving that the format still holds great appeal for the older generation.  Some of the used vinyl, housed in tattered sleeves, was much more reasonably priced, and brought me back to my teenage days when I would go to record conventions at local hotels.

On more than one occasion, my son came up to me to show me what he had found.  His genuine enthusiasm for the record store experience was something to behold.  A great sense of pride washed over me when he said that he would go to the store all the time if we lived in the area.  While he may not be able to go as frequently as I did when I was growing up, I will make sure to spend some time there each time we go back to visit so that my son will continue his appreciation for the record store experience.

NOTE:  The photo above was taken by my son.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Rock and Roll Children: Top Hard Rock Songs of 2013

Rock and Roll Children

Rock and Roll Children

When I was a kid, I was exposed to a lot of Doo-Wop music, especially on car trips.  My siblings and I didn’t have iPods to listen to our own music.  Truth be told, we were happy just to have a window seat to avoid “the hump.”  If my kids are in the car alone with my wife, she will give them a chance to pick the music, whereas I have carried on the tradition of my dad.  You can probably imagine what is being played on the radio when Hard Rock Daddy picks the music.  For a while, my kids were truly rock and roll children, but like all kids, they have started to discover music on their own as they are exposed to other influences.

As a 6-yr old hip-hop dancer, Little One has started to gravitate towards music that she can dance to, and also to the songs that she hears on the television shows that she watches.  My 10-yr old son, on the other hand, has been influenced by his older cousins and has started delving into the world of underground hip-hop.  While I can’t fault them for going out on their own and developing their own musical tastes, I wasn’t going sit idly by and let them forget their hard rock roots.

In an effort to rekindle their interest in hard rock music, I decided this weekend to let them each create their own playlists on the Hard Rock Daddy YouTube channel (www.HardRockDaddyNetwork.com).  The only caveat was that the songs that they chose had to fit in with the other music featured on Hard Rock Daddy.

My son created his playlist first.  He had a number of songs that he was able to name right away, and then began to increase his list as I reminded him of others that he had forgotten about.  By the time we finished, his playlist had 60 very worthy hard rock songs on it ranging from his favorites of today like Rob Zombie’s “Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown” to classics like Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills” and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.”  His list also includes the latest Sabbath release “God Is Dead?”.

Little One needed a little more guidance when it came time to make her playlist.  She likes a lot of songs, but couldn’t recall the names of most of them very easily.  Her playlist also ranges from songs of today like 10 Years’ “Fix Me” to Guns N Roses classics like “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Welcome to the Jungle” and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Mr. Crowley.”  Her list is significantly shorter than my son’s (20 songs), but she ended up with a very cool playlist, especially considering that she is a 6-yr old hip-hop dancer.

Both rock and roll children have songs on their respective lists that hold special meaning to me.

My son’s list features songs from concerts that we have seen together, the most meaningful being Nickelback’s “Rockstar.”  It was the first concert that he ever saw when he was 7-yrs old, but more importantly, he used to sing the entire song when he was 3-yrs old.  Needless to say to anyone who knows the lyrics, it was the source of a lot of laughter at family get-togethers.

Little One’s list features songs that made an impression on her at the age of three also.  She used to sing parts of “Mr. Crowley” and get excited that “Ozzy Osbournes” was on the radio.  In her version of name that tune, after a few guitar notes of “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” she would yell out Guns N Roses and make her rocker face while flashing Dio’s horns up (a.k.a. metal fingers).  The song that will always remind me of her is “Fix Me.”  She was only 5-yrs old when it was on the Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown.  Whenever she heard the chorus, she would scream and clap uncontrollably.  It was a moment of pure joy that I will always remember as long as I live.

Check out the playlists that my rock and roll children have put together.  Please feel free to share any thoughts about their selections.

 

 

Scars – The Boston Marathon Bombing

Boston Marathon Bombing

“I tear my heart open, I sew myself shut.  My weakness is, that I care too much.  And my scars remind me that the past is real.  I tear my heart open, just to feel.” – Papa Roach

The Boston Marathon bombing has had a profound effect on people with ties to the incredibly proud city, and Americans as a whole.  While there have been plenty of senseless tragedies since 9/11, this is the first time that there has been a terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 2001.  Each tragedy creates an emotional wound that leaves a scar on the hearts and minds of those who felt the pain of loss, directly or indirectly.  Time inevitably erodes the sharp pain of tragedy and loss, but the emotional wounds never truly go away.

Martin RichardEvery victim of the attack that occurred on Patriot Day in Boston deserves the collective support and sympathy of society, but some stories hit closer to home.  In this case, it is the story of 8-yr old Martin Richard, an innocent child whose life was taken by the cowardly act of terrorists as he stood near the finish line with his family.  It was originally reported that he was there cheering his father on, but that turned out to be misinformation.  Martin’s father, Bill, is a runner, but he was not running in this year’s marathon.  The family was actually there supporting friends who were running in the marathon.

The day was particularly tragic for the Richard family.  Martin’s 6-yr old sister lost her leg in the explosion, and likely would have lost her life as well if not for the heroic efforts of first- responders.  His mother suffered a brain injury and remains hospitalized.

This year’s Boston Marathon had special significance because it honored the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims with a mile marker on Mile 26 that featured the city seal and 26 stars, one for each victim.  There was a 26-second moment of silence to remember the innocent victims.  A group of Newtown, CT parents took part in the race.  The family members of the victims of Sandy Hook had VIP seats in close proximity to the first explosion.  Thankfully, none of them were hurt because the runners that they were there to support had all completed the race prior to the bomb going off.

It’s been four months since the Sandy Hook tragedy, and it is still on my mind constantly, as my daughter is the same age as the children who perished.  I watch her laugh, play, sing and dance.  I smile at her, but often times, I find myself sad and angry that someone could do harm to that kind of pure innocence.  My world was changed on that day, and I doubt that it will ever be the same again.  The scars run too deep.

The Boston Marathon bombing has brought scars from the past to the forefront as well.  Long before my daughter was born, I experienced 9/11 firsthand (read “My 9/11 Experience” for a detailed account of that tragic day).  The scars of 9/11 would have been bad enough on their own, but it was compounded for me as I lost my father to a tragic accident less than two months before the attack.  The fact that he and the 8-yr old boy who lost his life yesterday share the same first name has added to the pain that I feel today.

In 2001, my view of the world was forever changed.  The innocence that was lost will never return.  Each tragic event “tears my heart open…and my scars remind me that the past is real.” Thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon whose lives will never be the same going forward.

Watching Over Me

Watching Over Me

“I had a friend many years ago…One tragic night he died…The saddest time of my life…For weeks and weeks I cried…Through the anger and through the tears…I’ve felt his spirit through the years…I’d swear, he’s watching me…Guiding me through hard times…I feel it once again…It’s overwhelming me…His spirit’s like the wind…The angel guarding me…Oh, I know, oh, I know…He’s watching over me.”Iced Earth (“Watching Over Me”)

The year was 2001, and the friend that died on a hot summer night in July was my dad.  Today would have been his 71st birthday, and it would have been very memorable for him.  Because of his special connection to 3-13, I can only imagine how happy he would have been to see 3-13-13 on the calendar.

Life has never been the same since his passing, but I have done everything in my power to keep his memory alive with my children.  And even though they never met him, they feel connected to him through the stories that I’ve shared with them.

If not for my dad, Hard Rock Daddy probably wouldn’t exist today, but not because he was a hard rock music fan.

My dad never listened to hard rock music.  Doo-wop was his music of choice, and he loved it with a passion – so much so that, in his eyes, no music recorded after 1964 was deemed worthy enough for his ears.  Obviously, our musical tastes are vastly different, but his passion for Doo-wop gave me a profound appreciation for the genre.  It is the music that I listened to until I was old enough to decide my own musical taste.

My kids have been raised as rock-and-roll children because of my influence.  Even though they are starting to venture out on their own to listen to other music that they like, they still love the hard rock music that I play for them.  If their musical tastes eventually shift towards other genres, my guess is that they will always appreciate hard rock music the way that I appreciate Doo-wop to this day.

The passion that I have for music was definitely influenced by my dad’s passion for Doo-wop, but the biggest influence that he had on me is how to be a dad.  He was always the one to make us laugh, and I have done my best to keep his spirit alive by doing the same thing for my kids.  Our house is filled with laughter.  Sometimes is it just a silly joke or a goofy face that gets the ball rolling.  Other times it falls more into the inappropriate category, kind of like Rodney Dangerfield’s character, Al Czervik, in Caddyshack.  The phrase “Who stepped on a duck?” has been uttered on more than one occasion in my house, something that definitely would have entertained my dad.

My dad’s passing was, by far, the saddest time of my life.  I was angry at the injustice of it all.  To this day, there is a void that still exists, and it will be with me for the rest of my days.  But “through the anger and through the tears, I’ve felt his spirit through the years.”

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about my dad, but days like today I can think of nothing else.  All I can do is pray that he is the “angel guarding me…guiding me through hard times…and watching over me.”

Tears Are Falling

KISS

“You look at me with your eyes in tears…and then it’s raining, feels like it’s raining…oh no, tears are falling!”  KISS wrote “Tears Are Falling” about a broken relationship, but these lyrics can be applied to many school day mornings in my house.

My wife is here for the early part of the morning, but when she leaves for work, drama often ensues with Little One.  The enigmatic 6-yr old is both fiercely independent and totally dependent at the same time, which makes for some interesting struggles where no outcome is ever satisfactory.

Today, like many other days, I was treated to the Little One fashion show where she puts on an outfit, shows it to me, I tell her that she looks very cute, and she instantly goes back into her room to put on something entirely different.  The cycle continues until the tension starts to mount as I pressure her to make a final decision because the time to leave is fast approaching.  Once the “tears are falling,” there is almost nothing that I can say or do to get her dressed, ready and smiling.  No outfit is ever the right one, and anything she ends up with is merely settling.

As I watched the “Tears Are Falling” video (below), it struck me that KISS and my daughter have an eerily similar taste in clothing, Paul Stanley in particular.  I couldn’t help but wonder if “tears are falling” in Paul’s eyes when he looks back at this frightening moment in time, but I digress…

Once Little One is finally dressed, albeit displeased with the look of the day, the next battle arises about which toy to bring with her in her backpack.  There are some things that we don’t allow her to bring for various reasons, but as her frenzy reaches a fever pitch and the minutes are ticking away, I start to relax my rules as much as possible to complete my mission of getting the kids to school on time.  However, like the outfit situation, there is no toy that will ever be perfect, so she has no choice but to settle for good enough.

I got the kids to school on time, so I won this battle, but the war is far from over.

Just another day in the life of Hard Rock Daddy!

The Crazy Ones

The Crazy Ones

“We are the crazy ones…we color outside the lines for fun…we march to the beat of a different drum…’cause we are the crazy ones.”   Stellar Revival’s “The Crazy Ones” is a great hard rock song that, by all rights, should be playing on a 24/7 loop in my house.

It’s Monday morning.  The weekly grind has started, and the countdown to the relaxation of the weekend has already begun.  Unless of course, you live amongst “the crazy ones,” where relaxing weekends are nothing more than a mirage.

Saturday morning was my son’s final basketball game of the season.  Even though the games don’t start until 10:30am, it is always a challenge to get everyone out the door on time.  Usually, the mayhem ensues when Little One is forced to choose what toys she will bring to entertain herself during the game.  But this weekend’s mayhem deviated from the norm.

Little One started crying because she went slightly outside the lines while coloring a picture of a puppy.  In my attempt to soothe her, I came up with the idea of having the whole family color pictures, and we would all “color outside the lines for fun.”  Given that Little One “marches to the beat of a different drum,” the idea was flatly rejected, so I decided it would be best to just ride out the meltdown.

When the time came to get dressed, Little One came into my room wearing shirt after shirt.  Each one was one of her “favorites,” and each one was getting a little small on her.  The shirt that sent her over the edge was a pink monkey shirt that reads “my brother drives me bananas.”  Since the shirt was only a little short at the bottom, I told her that she could still wear it as a sleep shirt.  However, my logical, pragmatic suggestion fell on deaf ears.

The time to leave for my son’s game was quickly approaching.  I was busy downstairs, and Little One was getting dressed upstairs.  When I asked her if she was almost ready, she came downstairs wearing pants, but no shirt, because according to her, she didn’t have any shirts that fit her.  Never mind the fact that her drawers are literally overflowing with shirts.  She found the few that were a bit too small.

Rather than just pick one of the many shirts that do fit her, she yelled that she was just going to go to the game with no shirt at all.  Cooler heads ultimately prevailed as I pointed out that it was inappropriate and also too cold to go topless.  Little One picked out a shirt and we miraculously made it to the game on time.

Just another day in the life of Hard Rock Daddy!

New York Groove

New York City

On this day in 2009, our lives were in flux.  We had recently decided to move from Long Island to Texas, a decision that did not sit well with my son who was in first grade at the time.  Already feeling emotional about our move, I had to sit him down when he got home from school to break the news that his great-grandmother had passed away suddenly.  It was his first experience with death, and he was understandably devastated.

My grandmother passed away in her mid-90’s.  Thankfully, my family and I were able to make it to the last birthday that she ever celebrated.  It was also the last time that she would have the entire family together before her passing.  If ever there was a time to believe in “Divine Intervention” – this was it.

The birthday gathering took place in my grandmother’s apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  She lived her entire life in the neighborhood known today for cool music and dive bars, although it wasn’t always that way.  In between what it became and what it was many years ago, the neighborhood went through some pretty sketchy years.  But my grandmother never even considered leaving the only place that she ever called home.  This sweet, little old lady that was loved by all who knew her walked unfazed through the New York City streets her entire life.

One of the only things that ever worried her is whether Little One would ever speak.  It’s hard to imagine today, but there was a time when we couldn’t get her to communicate.  It wasn’t long after my grandmother’s passing that the floodgates opened, and Little One became a wall of sound and an endless source of entertainment.  My grandmother would have been so happy to experience her great-granddaughter today.

While driving home today after shopping, my son asked if he ever had anything really bad happen to him because he has friends who have gone through some very tough times.  My wife brought up our move to Texas and subsequent move back to New York.  Wise beyond his years, he pointed out that he’s had a really good life so far.  I saw no reason to bring up the fact that today is the anniversary of his great-grandmother’s passing.

Thankfully, the moves that we’ve made have left both of my kids none the worse for wear.  Things aren’t perfect, but we have a great home life, especially since getting “back in the New York Groove.”  As Cinderella sang – in their classic hit from 1988 – you “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone).”  It didn’t take long to realize that Texas was never going to feel like home.  Just like my grandmother, my kids were meant to be New Yorkers.

On the anniversary of her passing, I dedicate Ace Frehley’s “New York Groove” to the woman who was a true New Yorker through and through…