Dad Tunes

Remember life before digital music? It’s hard, right? I’m an mp3 hoarder (which already makes me old, sigh) and a Pandora addict, and I can’t tell you what it means to be able to google any song I want at any time so I can listen to it. No more having to wait for a song to come on the radio. No more listening to five CDs on shuffle in the car, until you know every word and want to tear your face off if you hear that one song again.

When I was teaching dance, until the very end (near 2008-ish?) I was limited by whatever CDs were in the room. I got really good at choreographing combinations for across the floor to Ace of Base and Gloria Estefan. If I hear Lawrence Welk’s “Begin the Beguine,” I lapse into tap class warm-up shuffles (7-7-3-3-1-2-2, anyone?). At home I had Sarah McLachlan on a loop for most of my junior and senior year so I could feel bad about my feelings to bad music.

But no music is as familiar to me as the stuff in my dad’s CD collection from about 1993-1997. I remember it was a thing for him, his stereo. He had a case of music and these giant, padded headphones with a spiraling cord, and he’d lay on the floor with his head propped against the couch and just listen with his eyes closed. I didn’t get it, but he assured me that was a dad thing to do, music. Listening. Tapping out the drum solo to “Wipeout” with your hands. Knowing about singers and whether someone was “a Beatles person” or a “Beach Boys person.”

The other day I heard Phil Collins’ “Take Me Home” on Pandora and I was instantly reminded of Dad’s CDs. Once I started searching for albums, I realized my musical influences are a study in eclectic tastes. (And, truthfully, that I remember the things best that were danceable. Anything I learned at the studio, I practiced in the living room.) I created a Pandora station for myself (Dad Music), but I thought it would be fun to post some samples here of the mid-90’s stuff the Scotts were hearing.

Highlights of Dad’s CD Collection

Phil Collins: Serious Hits Live

I didn’t know what Genesis was until my 20s, but I did know all the words to “Sussudio.”


The Best of the Doors

Honestly, I was kind of scared of the Doors, thanks mostly to the album cover and Jim Morrison’s prominent nipples. This one might have been a cassette tape–I can’t be sure–but I remember driving in my dad’s car as he tried to explain “Riders on the Storm.”

Jim Brickman: By Heart

This was when I discovered I could work better to music without words. This became my homework soundtrack, and my sister danced a piece to “Angel Eyes” when we were in high school. I played it to death.


The Big Chill: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Just one of many soundtracks that introduced us to oldies. I liked this one, though, and it got some major play time. I think Melissa and I choreographed a few dance numbers to it in the living room. “Good Lovin” is particularly right for a spontaneous dance party.


Tony O’Connor: Rainforest Magic

What was the name of that nature store in the mall in the ’90s? I have spent two days trying to remember. I think that’s where this came from, and its sister albums that featured things like ocean sounds. I didn’t really take off in a pan flute direction in my life, but I used to borrow this one when I got my own CD player so I could fall asleep to it.


Dirty Dancing: Original Soundtrack

Played loud and proud, all the time. I watched this movie 400 times and probably listened to the soundtrack just as much.


Madonna: The Immaculate Collection

I was almost as scared of Madonna as I was of Jim Morrison’s nipples–for unclear reasons at the time–but she seemed like somebody “bad.” (And I was nothing if not hyper-concerned with goodness vs. badness in the world.) For this reason, I stuck close to the beginning of the album, and was fond of skipping around the house to “Holiday.”


Jurassic Park: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Earliest exposure to John Williams. Jurassic Park album as gateway to other movie scores.


The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack

Ridiculous and embarrassing: I choreographed my first dance to “The Queen of the Night.” I wore a blue and red sparkly crop top.

I know.


Kenny G: Silhouette

We are so deep into embarrassing territory now. I will just leave Kenny G here without comment, except to say that I enjoyed his smooth version of curly-haired sax playing.


The Glenn Miller Orchestra: In the Digital Mood

This is the soundtrack of my youth, the album my dad would play (loud) to signal that we were about to clean the house. I kind of dreaded it, but Glenn Miller is actually great housecleaning music. We’d clean until the album was done playing, and it was a happy thing to hear. To this day it puts me in a good mood.

It’s funny to think about how limited musical exposure used to be. My own kids have access to anything they can search. Someday I’ll have to teach them about laying on the floor with your eyes closed, and why it’s important to find joy in whatever songs you have.