Your Take: Dad Country

Juli Thanki | June 15th, 2013

cashchildrensalbumMaybe you were raised by wolves, or spent your formative years in a Dickensian orphanage, forcing you to learn about country music on the streets. But chances are that your first exposure to music came from your parents. One of my first musical memories is listening to Elvis in the car with my dad; I still love The King, though my tastes now lean more toward Young Elvis rather than Comeback-era Elvis.

Since tomorrow is Father’s Day, today we want to know: how has your parents’ taste in music influenced your own listening habits?

And if you’re a parent, let us know: do you try to influence your kids’ musical tastes? There’s a lot of great country/roots music geared toward children; do you play them some some of those albums, or go straight to Hank Williams? (Hey, everybody’s gotta learn about heartbreak sooner or later.)


  1. Leeann Ward
    June 15, 2013 at 9:06 am

    This topic actually means a lot to me, because my dad has had a lot of influence on my music tastes. When I was a young kid, I remember him playing a lot of classical music and opera (when he could get away with it), but the stuff that I paid attention to and still think fondly of today is John Denver, Peter, Paul and Mary, Don McClean and people of that ilk. Later, as I became obsessed with country music, I discovered that my dad knew a lot about that kind of music too. What I remember most, however, is that he’d always let me play him my latest favorite country songs on car rides (in particular) when, I’m sure, he’d rather be listening to his favorite music. He cultivated my country music passion, even if it might not of been his passion. My dad is one of those people who knows something about everything, it seems. So, I shouldn’t have been surprised a couple years ago when I mentioned that I was going to be attending a Vince Gill concert and he started rattling off a lot of Vince Gill facts to me, including some Vince Gill Youtube clips that he found particularly amazing.:)

  2. Dave D.
    June 15, 2013 at 10:34 am

    I remember country music being played around the house as a kid, but being pretty ambivalent about it. It wasn’t until college age when a co-worker turned me on to Hank Williams that I developed a passion for the music. Who knows how much that passion was kindled by the early exposure? My wife and I re-connected with both our parents musically over the years, and attended a lot of concerts together. During my Dad’s last year in hospital/hospice, our highlight each week was sitting by the radio for the weekly Downhome Show on the local campus station.

    I took mostly the same passive exposure approach with my kids – except during car trips, where I ruled the radio with an iron fist. One son has developed an appreciation for the music, the other hasn’t (as of yet, anyways).

  3. Leeann Ward
    June 15, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Ha, Dave. I credit my dad for not ruling the radio on car trips with an iron fist, because I know that had to be a sacrifice for him, since I know how important good music is on car trips for me. That’s why I’m grateful that he let me be the music director on the eight hour car trips that he and I took to see his ailing parents.

  4. Ron
    June 15, 2013 at 11:32 am

    I’m similar to Dave above. My parents played country around the house (Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins and other mostly male artists). Growing up I didn’t appreciate it as I was much more into rock music.

    In college I got back into Country through Waylon Jennings. His brown Greatest Hits was played to death by my roommate and me. After college I started more into the Americana type stuff mostly starting with Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett and Steve Earle. Now I listen to a wide range music but I do have a good selection of old classic country.

  5. Ken Morton, Jr.
    June 15, 2013 at 11:39 am

    While it was my mom who, as the “kid taxi,” had country music playing regularly on the radio, my dad was the one who gave me an appreciation for live music. I remember clearly attending a Judds performance up in Lake Tahoe not long after they just hit the scene. My dad slipped the guy seating everyone at the club $50 (which I thought was totally mafia cool at the time), and he seated my mom, younger brother and I right up front at the stage. Wynonna and Naomi flirted shamelessly and innocently with us two boys during the whole show. Wynonna closed the show with making sure that we each got a guitar pick. That arist/fan interaction impacted me a lot. I’m sure it is a huge reason why Golf & Guitars was created and why I love this broad genre for having the ability to be so personal and intimate.

    He made sure that we had the opportunity to see live performances by artists from Dionne Warwick to Ray Charles. Thank you, Pop.

  6. Paul W Dennis
    June 15, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Dad was in the US Navy for thirty years, so there were times when he wasn’t around. Mom usually had the radio on in the house tuned to the radio stations that played classic pop – Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Patti Page, Nat Ling Cole etc – she also sometimes played the record player, usually songs of her homeland (Germany). Her records were what are now referred to as schlager music – light melodic pop music both instrumental and vocal. I would say her all-time favorites were Englebert Humperdinck and Dean Martin

    When Dad was home, he’d sometimes play records (and his guitar)in the living room while Mom watched television in the den – his music was country (Acuff, Tubb, Williams, Snow and later Haggard, Price, Pride, Lynn) with big-band jazz, folk and some classic pop mixed in.

    I basically absorbed both of my parents tastes in music,and added to it (neither of my parents cared for Motown/R&B or Rock & Roll) but my listening taste has remained solidly country throughout my life. I would guess that my current listing habits are about 60% country / 15% real jazz (not Kenny G variety) / 15% classic pop / 10% everything else

    My wife isn’t that musch into music and I doubt I had much influence on the kids listening taste – they run the gamut from modern country to stuff like Dave Matthews to hard rock

    My Mom passed away last year so this is the first year I’ve had neither of my parents around. I owe them both a lot, the musical heritage being part of that debt

  7. bob
    June 15, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Some of the artists I remember in my parents’ 78 rpm collection included Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, the Mills Brothers, Perry Como, Al Jolson, Gene Autry and the Ink Spots. I guess Autry was country-western?

    Ricky Nelson became a favorite of mine early on because he sang at the end of his parents’ TV show, “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet”. The Everly Brothers were probably my first favorite discovered on the radio.

    I recall that my mother liked artists like Jim Reeves and Eddie Arnold in the 60’s but I didn’t start getting into country til the late 70’s.

    On family car trips in the 80’s and 90’s, the music mix gradually got more and more country but my kids (31 & 33 now) never cared for country. A little over a year ago I asked them to email me their top ten favorite artists. None were country. My son will be seeing Dave Matthews for the 11th time tonight. My daughter will be seeing Ben Taylor next Friday.

    I guess I’d have to say that my mother got me into music but didn’t influence the type. I’ve had the same kind of influence on my kids.

  8. harriett
    June 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    My Dad’s influence in my music was his love for reading. He never finished high school, but was quite well read. I got the love of a good story from him which lead to my love of music that tells a great story. And that lead to an appreciation of bluegrass/country music.

  9. Barry Mazor
    June 15, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    My father grew up across the street from Yankee Stadium, watching Ruth and Gehrig play for free, from the roof, and he didn’t have the slightest interest in country. It was about Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, and the Metropolitan Opera for him. I grew up differently, in different places, and had different tastes, and introduced country into our house when I was a teenager. In the decades after that, Hank and Patsy and Bob Wills and others started to show up in my folks’ record collection. He lives in Nashville now, as my wife and I do, and he’s been to the Opry. He’s going on 95 this year; last night, we took him to a Nashville Sounds Pacific Coast League game, and Monday night, we’re taking him to see the Time Jumpers to finish the Father’s Day doubleheader. He’s wanted to see them.

  10. bll
    June 15, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    Mum usually had the radio on and she mostly ran the stereo; everything from Celtic and folk to the Beatles and Tom Jones. Dad worked nights, sleeping through the day until about 15:30. On the weekends he’d take one of us one on one to run errands with him and hit Crest Bakery; it was in the station wagon (with an 8 track and am only radio)that I was introduced to everything from Sousa marching music to Hank Williams, Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold and Johnny Horton. Mum died at 60 in 1995 and Dad at 68 two years later. ‘Whispering Pines’ takes me right back to my childhood every time.

  11. Sam G.
    June 16, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    I grew up with three generations under one roof with my mom and her parents, and Mom’s record collection of ’70s country was the one place where everyone could find common ground. Don Williams, the Oak Ridge Boys and Ronnie Milsap were pretty popular in the house. That got me listening to country right around the time that Randy Travis, Dwight Yoakam, the O’Kanes and Foster & Lloyd became popular, which pretty much set my course for life.

    Mom was a folkie from the ’60s, so she also had a large collection of John Prine, Leo Kottle, the Chad Mitchell Trio and Steve Goodman. As soon as I was old enough to reach her stereo, she let me play whatever 33s and 45s I wanted. I was probably the only kid growing up in the ’80s who knew more Prine songs than I did Guns N Roses.

    When my oldest daughter was born, her mother and I bought a couple of kids nursery rhyme albums, but they were just painful to listen to. I later discovered Farmer Jason (Jason Ringenberg’s “twin brother”) and got all three kids listening to him. I’ve taken my girls out to a few concerts, and while I think they’re still favoring pop music at the moment, they’ve see The Steeldrivers, Jim Lauderdale and Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell live, as well as numerous local bluegrass bands, and they’ve had a good time.

    My youngest, Sean, has developed a taste for traditional country and acoustic music all on his own. Jason Aldean makes him cry (seriously), but Marty Stuart and the Dirt Daubers make him clap his hands, shout and kick his feet on his car seat in time to the song. Last night we were driving home from my in-laws, and Sean was overtired and not feeling well. He cried and carried on most of the way home until I turned on the stereo and put on the Carolina Chocolate Drops. He calmed down in 30 seconds and was sound asleep before the first song was done.

  12. Janice Brooks
    June 17, 2013 at 10:18 am

    My grandmother and my uncle (maternal) lived accross the street and the FM radio was always on local country station WGMR. Dad accepted whatever I listed to when he was around. I’m thankful for neighbors and folks who exposed me to the older stuff.

  13. Arlene
    June 17, 2013 at 11:12 am

    @Barry- For the small world file, my father, who would have turned 90 this past January, grew up a couple of blocks from Yankee Stadium– at 910 Grand Concourse– and his favorite musicians were also Benny Goodman and Ella Fitzgerald. He never had any interest in country music but did attend the Opry once, about ten years ago, during a reunion weekend for the division he had served with in World War II; I recall him saying he was “extremely unimpressed by those damn square dancers….”

  14. Barry Mazor
    June 17, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Well, if your dad served in the army’s 77th Division, Arlene, which would not be unlikely, my dad was a decorated officer there–via Okinawa, Guam, Leyte, etc.

  15. Jack Williams
    June 17, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Well, maybe my Dad, who turned 80 in January, was from the hillbilly part of the Bronx. He grew up in the Wakefield section near 233rd Street (practically Westchester County. God’s country!). He was a Yankee fan (disinterested now) and we went to many games in the pre-renovated stadium in the late 60’s/early 70’s. We’d drive in from Rockland County, find street parking on Fordham Rd, and take the train to the stadium. Saw the Mick hit a few of his 18 homers in 1968. Anyway, he enjoyed music, although he wasn’t a big record buyer. He did have Johnny Cash’s Live at Folsom Prison album and I also remember hearing what I now know to be some of the ’60’s Columbia studio stuff. He also liked to listen to New York country radio station WHN. When I was heavy into British prog rock and had no apetite for country music at all, I remember him telling me with his Bronx accent: “Mark my words, Jack. One of these days you’re gonna to like country music.”

  16. TX Music Jim
    June 17, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Riding around with Dad my uncle and grandfather all involved country music on the radio mostly old school AM stations that played a lot of Enerest Tubb and Goerge Jones Merle Haggard etc. I remeber an entire road trip with nothing but Johnny Cash being played. I drifted more to the heavy metal side in my teens and twenties but never lost my love for the music I grew up with. Seeing Robert Earl Keen and Steve Earle in the 90’s brought me back to country music via the Texas Red Dirt scene.

  17. Arlene
    June 17, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    @Barry- My dad was in the European theatre. He served in the 106th Infantry Division and received his battlefield commission during the Battle of the Bulge.

  18. Henry
    June 17, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    My parents’ record collection consisted of Ed Ames, Perry Como, Andy Williams, Herb Alpert, Mitch Miller, Burl Ives, and some standard classical, with many Sousa marches. When I was very young, I marched around the living room to the “Under the Double Eagle,” (my dad attended The Citadel, and we went to dress parades every Friday; I was enamored of that stuff as a six-year-old) but soon started buying 45s of surf music–not just Beach Boys/Jan and Dean, but the East Coast variety like The Fantastic Baggys and P.J. Sloan as well as Carolina Beach Music like The Embers, The Chairmen of the Board, The Swinging Medallions–and early rock and roll.
    So, my earliest musical tastes were formed against my parent’s music. When I picked up the guitar at 13, I started learning British invasion songs and folk music and soon graduated to full-on rock and roll like Ten Years After and Mountain, among others.
    I grew up in the South, though, so even in the Allman Brothers and Elvin Bishop and Marshall Tucker Band there were a few strains of country music coming through.
    By the time my Dad and I parted ways over Vietnam, I had discovered the California folks like Jackson Browne and that entire crowd, was performing those songs on a regular basis at gigs as well as playing in a Jesus band, and getting back to the country. Emmylou was huge for me, and while I’m still very eclectic in my listening, I stream country music much of the day at work. My Dad and I started talking again after ten years, and now we often talk about country music.
    Our children grew up listening to a wide variety of music and they control the radio in the car; one of our youngest daughter’s friends said the other night that it was cool that her (our daughter’s) parents let her listen to whatever she wanted to in the car since the friend’s parents apparently control the radio.

  19. Barry Mazor
    June 17, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    There’s a different generation of Bronx you’re talking about there, Jack. Johnny Cash was just being born in the 1930s!

  20. Leeann Ward
    June 17, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Ugh…Looking back at my comment, I must change my shameful “might not of” to “might not have.”

  21. Jack Williams
    June 17, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Good point, Barry. Also, I think he saw his fair share of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers movies as a kid. I remember he liked ballads by singers like Eddy Arnold, Marty Robbins and Jim Reeves.

  22. Luckyoldsun
    June 18, 2013 at 12:06 am

    “My parents’ record collection consisted of Ed Ames, Perry Como…”

    Ed Ames made records? I did not know that. I thought all he did was throw tomahawks into the crotches of outline figures of a man.

  23. bob
    June 18, 2013 at 8:37 am

    Before going solo, Ed Ames was a member of the Ames Brothers. The brothers had some hits in the 50’s including “You, You, You”.

  24. Barry Mazor
    June 18, 2013 at 8:50 am

    I thought Luckyol was kidding–and he may have been. The Ames Bros charted dozens of times, and Ed Ames quite a few on his own before veering towards acting.

    Here he is with Mr Johnny Cash:

  25. Luckyoldsun
    June 18, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Here he is with Mr. Johnny Carson:

  26. Leeann Ward
    June 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Thanks to it being linked here in the original post, I paid the pretty penny for the Kasey Chambers, Papa Bill and the Little Hillbillies childrens’ album. It arrived today and it’s sounding quite entertaining so far.:)

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