Dad-bod, dad jeans, dad rock.
These are most definitely not flattering terms. They signify the opposite of cool. Or even worse, the idea of an unhip man past his prime trying embarrassingly hard to be cool.
Appreciation for being a good father is certainly welcome on Father’s Day. But even if he’s become the silent type – because you as his kid always came first - perhaps what he’d really like is a little attention in return. Lend him an ear, give him a fist-bump and the ultimate compliment: “Dad, you’re so cool.” Then ask him about his glory days.
Give in to “dad rock” and indulge him. Whatever you do together on Father’s Day, do it to the soundtrack of his rebel youth. Hang out together and let him tell you his cool stories, no matter how many times you’ve heard them before.
Whether or not you’ve heard his favorite tunes coming from his man-cave, here’s a primer on how to please him.
THE DIFFERENT GENERATIONS AND STYLES OF DAD ROCK
At first, “dad rock” was defined as the music of the baby boomers who came of age in the sixties and seventies that represents the canon of what is called “classic rock”. It includes the legendary Beatles and Stones of course, but in a boomer’s memory, it’s a complex sonic ecosystem.
Here’s a challenge: if you really want to please your boomer dad – or grandad - ask him to explain to you the many bands that Neil Young and Eric Clapton played in before they became iconic solo artists. Then prepare to sit back and get schooled.
Then why not watch one of these documentaries together?
(or Vinyl Dad or High-Fi Dad)
If you’ve overheard your hard rock Seventies-era dad with his friends sharing youthful war stories that strike you as hypocritical - because they involve the very same kind of partying he warned you against – put on some Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin or Rush and interrogate him about what he got up to when he had a lot of hair.
You may also want to watch one of these together to get him started:
If your rebel dad was more of a Seventies-Eighties punk rocker, make him happy by asking him about the origins of early British punk and alternative music. Cook him his favorite breakfast and try this question: “Hey dad, can you tell me about the days when Bono and Sting were cool?”
If you haven’t seen U2 with the old man yet, and you’re willing to show your love by shelling out some cash, there’s still time to catch them on their ongoing Innocence + Experience tour. Or if you’re on a tight budget, watch this together:
And now that you’re a well-balanced adult yourself, perhaps it’s time to crack a beer for the dad and come clean: telling him what you really got up to in your own youth will make your relationship stronger.
(CD-era Dad or Cassette Dad)
If pa came of age in the 80s or 90s, his first car was likely equipped with a stereo and speakers he installed himself. Believe it or not, it was an exciting time of rapidly evolving technology. At some point, his music collection suffered from format fatigue. As cassette tapes gave way to the awesome, hi-tech CD format, he was confronted with the epic decision of which albums were essential enough to repurchase as CDs.
(Meanwhile, on foot, skateboard, bicycle or bus to his minimum-wage job, dad had to choose whether to bring his Sony Walkman or Discman).
For Father’s Day festivities, you can’t go wrong with a classic rock playlist, as this is the era when FM radio still played the boomer classics mixed with the latest hits. The Police and U2 became mainstream superstars, along with artists like Tom Petty and Bon Jovi, and entered the classic rock canon that you hear today.
If you want to make your dad feel really cool and mom’s not around, ask him about his car, his stereo and the girls he dated before they met. If that’s “too much information”, grab a pen or pencil, dig up a cassette from his dad cave, and ask him to demonstrate how to manually rewind it.
Or put on this classic rock playlist and hang out.
Challenge: find a photo of your Gen-X dad, and check out his hair to determine which of these to watch together.
When the kids grow up and leave the house and a father can at last mellow out and enjoy his free time, a man often seeks to expand his musical taste. He may develop an interest in classical composers, taking his lovely lady to live opera, or digging into origins of the rock he grew up on blues, jazz, bluegrass, and country.
Or perhaps your dad has always been a super-traditional father with a pick-up truck.
Either way, you’re in luck. Why worry about what’s hip? Let dad be dad. On Father’s Day, watch some of his favorite live performance and enjoy being uncool and old-school together.