My Old Man

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John Prine is one of my favorite artists. Folk music, nothing visual (duh!)

Prine’s best friend was Steve Goodman, another folkie best known for writing the song, “The City Of New Orleans.”

This morning, I got re-acquainted with a Steve Goodman song performed by Prine that I haven’t heard for a couple years, “My Old Man.” If you want a tear jerker of a song, check it out.

When I finished listening to it, my wife asked me what most appealed to me about this tune. First off, I think men aren’t usually real huggy huggy emotional types. We’re known for being the more reserved of the genders where emotions are concerned. So, I kinda like all songs sung about dads and sons.

This one, though, is an adult son talking about his recently departed father. The lyric that sticks out most to meis this:

“And I’d give up all I own to hear what he said when I wasn’t listening to my old man”

Maybe it’s because I’m older and a little wiser, or maybe it’s because I have stepkids and a few others who’ve become my kids, but I really identify with this lyric.

My young life was never filled with yelling matches with my father. Anyone who knows Phil Engel knows he’s way too happy go lucky and laid back to waste much energy on arguing. I wish I were more like him in that way.

I guess because my kids are stepkids and I didn’t have to raise them from infancy that I don’t totally relate to being a father. I married Taylor, Jordan and Maddison’s mom when they were all teenagers. By that time, all the dirty diapers and temper tantrums were over (mostly).

I guess I hope my stepkids will listen to some of my guidance now. But, if they don’t? No biggie. I wish I would have listened to my dad more growing up, but I think he knew I was going to have to make a lot of my own mistakes before I’d learn. And I know that for my kids, too. Nowadays, I want to be sure I’m also listening to my kids…if I can listen to my Dad, and still be open to listening to my kids, then I think that’ll help me be more the kind of person I want to be: someone who’s compassionate, caring and a good listener. I guess that’s stuff I learned from My Old Man. Thanks, Dad…

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