Duke Ellington, My Dad and YouTube

23 Apr

images1My dad is 72 years old and full of life. He is a self-described “character” who enjoys hunting, relic collecting and sitting in his recliner drinking beer. He is a man’s man and often calls himself “The Old Ranger,” which I think of as his personal superhero signature. After all, he is my dad, and in only that way a daughter can look up to her father, I most certainly do.

Dad and I have had our challenges over the years. We are both “hard-headed” and can outdo one another in our stubbornness. We also are both somewhat intellectual and possibly passive-aggressive at times, preferring to hunker down and outlast the opponent with fortitude in situations of conflict, rather than waste energy and lose face in an all-out fight. We both appreciate a good sense of humor, as well as an entertaining story, true or not.

Recently I discovered something about my dad that I never knew: He likes to dance.

He and I were having a conversation about big band music—his favorites are Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Artie Shaw. He made a comment about “Cotton Club” being one of the best songs to dance to. What’s that? DANCE? My dad, with the big hands and construction worker build? Nahhhhh.

Much to my surprise, it’s true. We discovered together probably the only reason that he would EVER consider buying a computer: YouTube.

I told him that we could probably find some video of actual Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday performances, and we did. He was amazed. He then started calling out requests for particular bands, singers, songs and dates, and away we went, all the while with him declaring, “Well, I’ll be darned….”

We even found some footage of his favorite show to watch in the 1940s, “Captain Video.” This is hilarious…an amazingly low-tech variety of “special effects” strung together by an even less sophisticated plot. Their prop budget was $25/week. Now, spending limits like that force creativity.

Now back to the dancing. I could imagine it for my mom, but not for my dad. Why is it so surprising, as you get older, that you have MORE similarities than differences with your parents?

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2 Responses to “Duke Ellington, My Dad and YouTube”

  1. gmonteith April 24, 2009 at 4:38 pm #

    What a great post. Unlike my mother, my dad has never been one to volunteer much about his childhood or young adulthood. But if you ask him about certain things — and occasionally he’ll think to tell you — there are some gems that just leave you flabbergasted. I’m glad you had this experience with your father.

    • toknowbetter April 25, 2009 at 8:29 am #

      Thanks for your comment, Gene. My dad is an interesting person in many ways. It’s been good for me to get to know my parents from a more mature perspective. I don’t really lean on them for the stereotypical parental support much, and never really have, but I do appreciate them for their individual strengths.

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