Dad's Favorite Songs When He Was Your Age : All Songs Considered Last week we asked you to call your dad or your grandpa and ask what his favorite song was when he was your age. Their favorite songs surprised us, and your memories of listening to music with Dad reminded us why music is important to us in the first place.
NPR logo

Songs For Father's Day: Dad's Favorites When He Was Your Age

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Songs For Father's Day: Dad's Favorites When He Was Your Age

Songs For Father's Day: Dad's Favorites When He Was Your Age

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

For the past week, our music department has been reaching out to NPR Facebook followers with a Father's Day request. Ask your father what his favorite song was when he was your age. We've got hundreds of responses and they range from classic rock to big band music to James Brown.

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: We've asked NPR Music Editor Frannie Kelley to walk us though the selections, and that's the big news: James Brown was the big favorite of the fathers of NPR Music listeners.

FRANNIE KELLEY: Yeah, number one. I don't know why. I mean, maybe it's because he was so big in the '60s and '70s. Not only does he sound cool, he looks cool.

SIEGEL: Maybe all those dads just feel good.

KELLEY: There you go. We had one of our commenters say that her dad is sort of a closet James Brown fan. Ellie Rakoff(ph) said that he likes to say classical is his favorite, but he really means James Brown.

(Soundbite of laughter)

KELLEY: Who knows how Mozart felt, but Brown declared he felt good.

SIEGEL: It's an easy confusion.

KELLEY: Yeah, exactly.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. JAMES BROWN: (Singing) (Unintelligible).

SIEGEL: Do kids typically remember their father's music as having been especially good or bad, or what did you hear?

KELLEY: I think mostly everybody really loved to share the memories of listening with their dad, whether it was in the car, in the garage or, you know, running around the living room. But some people hated the music that their dads were listening to when they were little, you know, and now as they get older, they love it.

There was one woman, Tania Quesada(ph), she said: My dad always liked classical music. When he was about my age, he had bought the Carmina Burana record and played it over and over. I was nine at the time and I thought the music was kind of creepy. But now I really enjoy it.

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: Frannie, did you ask your father about what he was listening to when he was your age?

KELLEY: Yes, I did, and he couldn't remember at first.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: How long ago was that?

KELLEY: Well, 28 years ago. It was 1982. I had just been born, and he was in medical school. So he has an excuse.

SIEGEL: He had no time to listen...

KELLEY: Sleep deprivation, yeah. But after consideration, he said it was Steely Dan, "My Old School."

(Soundbite of song, "My Old School")

STEELY DAN (Music Group): (Singing) I remember 35 sweet goodbyes when you put me on the Wolverine up to Annandale.

SIEGEL: Well, I mean, was that music that your whole family could listen to? There's some things that, you know, families listen to together in the car or at home.

KELLEY: You know, we didn't really listen to Steely Dan. I don't remember that. We listened to The Boss, like, all the time and the Beatles quite a bit. And the Beatles came up a lot in our fans.

SIEGEL: I would think so.

(Soundbite of song "All My Life")

THE BEATLES (Music Group): (Singing) There are places I remember all my life though some have changed, some forever not for better.

KELLEY: My favorite story is Kristi DiClemente(ph), who not only does her father have a Beatles tattoo, her younger sister does.

SIEGEL: So the Beatles tattoo has actually been passed down from generation to generation in her family.

KELLEY: Yeah, and she asked her dad when he was going to get a tattoo of his kids' names on his body, and he said: No, no, the Beatles are permanent. I don't know about you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: Of course what we're getting at here is that a lot of the people who responded to NPR Music's question seem to have parents who are baby boomers, to put it simply.

KELLEY: Right.

SIEGEL: Otis Redding, did you hear about Otis Redding?

KELLEY: We did. We did. Otis came up. I was sort of surprised by how he came up. He was a common link in a family that was going through a sort of a tough time, and then the mom said that she shared it with her son, as well.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. OTIS REDDING (Musician): (Singing) Oh, she may be weary, and young girls they do get weary, wearing that same old shaggy dress...

KELLEY: It's crazy, she says, Otis Redding saved us from one another, her and her dad.

SIEGEL: They just figured we've got to, got to, got to live together, huh?

KELLEY: There it is, just be nice.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. REDDING: (Singing) Find a little tenderness.

SIEGEL: Well, if we're hearing a lot from 20 and 30-somethings about their, what their parents were listening to, what about - you know, did you hear from some 40-somethings about what their fathers were listening to that deep into their lives?

KELLEY: Yes, yes we did. The best part about that was 40s inspire midlife crises, and so we had "Purple Rain" come up a little bit.

(Soundbite of song, "Purple Rain")

PRINCE (Musician): (Singing) Purple rain, purple rain.

KELLEY: But the best story about that came from our own NPR Music staff. Robin Hilton is 42, and when his dad was the same age, he went through a midlife crisis that involved a cherry-red T-top Camaro, considering voting Democrat and Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band but not Prince.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: So this was the soundtrack to a midlife crisis.


(Soundbite of song "Old Time Rock and Roll")

BOB SEGER (Musician): (Singing) Today's music ain't got the same soul. I like that old-time rock 'n' roll.

SIEGEL: Of course, the music that your father, you know, listened to is a memory after your father dies. I remember my father listening to the Trout Quintet. That's a favorite piece of music, it was a favorite piece of music of his. Did you hear from people recalling their late fathers?

KELLEY: Yeah, we did. We heard some really sweet stories. One woman, Tracy Ramsey, told us about her dad, who was a firefighter and died doing his job, and she said what she remembers best is all the guys in his firehouse only ever agreeing on Cash.

SIEGEL: Johnny Cash.

KELLEY: That's right.

(Soundbite of music)

JOHNNY CASH (Music): (Singing) I love you because you understand, dear, every little thing I try to do. You're always there to lend a helping hand, dear, but most of all, I love you 'cuz you're you.

KELLEY: Well, what did you listen to when you were your daughter's age?

SIEGEL: Well, my daughters are in their early-30s. So, 1980 or so, that would have been. I was in London, and I remember very specifically buying a couple of LPs of Stephane Grappelli, great jazz violinist, playing with the classical violinist (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: And I've listened to Grappelli ever since. Well, many thanks. NPR music editor Frannie Kelley, reporting on responses to NPR Music's Father's Day question: What did your father listen to when he was your age?

KELLEY: Happy Father's Day.

SIEGEL: Thank you, and Happy Father's Day to everybody - to all the other fathers who are listening. Thank you, Frannie.

KELLEY: Thanks, Robert.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.