On the eve of Father’s Day, I went to sleep thinking of how my dad used to sing to me when I was a young boy. The one song I remember him singing, that I still can call back to feeling him singing, was Edelweiss, from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The Sound of Music.” Soft, soothing. Slow, deep vibrations. 

When the time came many years later, I sang many songs to my two sons, as well: 

Blackbird, Beatles
Eleanor Rigby, Beatles
Here Comes the Sun, Beatles
Hey Jude, Beatles
Let It Be, Beatles

And others. 

I know the catalog ran deeper than Beatles songs. Sometimes now I best recall a song I sang when jogged awake by hearing one on the radio. If one or both of my sons are in the car when that happens, I’ll say, “Hey! I used to sing that to you. Do you remember that?” Sometimes they answer yes.

Folsom Prison Blues, Johnny Cash
7, Prince

At the time I frequently sang these songs to them, I also was dabbling with a black six-string acoustic guitar I bought not long before my first son was born. Occasionally, I’d try to play the guitar along with the songs I’d sing to the boys in the years that followed.

Blackbird, most often. And Folsom Prison Blues

I’d taken some lessons at a suburban St. Louis music store when my wife was pregnant with our first son. When he was born, nearly 14 years ago, those abruptly stopped.

Blowin’ in the Wind, Bob Dylan
Imagine, John Lennon
A Horse With No Name, America 

I have a small collection of guitars awaiting my return now. Five or so. I always think, “Someday, when I can really focus on it.” 

Maybe it should be noted that my dad plays acoustic guitar, among other stringed instruments. Mandolin, fiddle. And he would sing from time to time. Publicly.

I am not a singer. My singing for others began and ended, really, with singing to my young, young sons as I cradled them in my arms. Years long in the rear view. 

There was once, however, during that time I frequently sang and played for my boys, that I sat in my living room, a married father in my 30s, and I played and sang Folsom Prison Blues for my father and his wife who were there on a rare visit. The only time I’ve done such a thing for anyone. He laughed when my voice balked at hitting a low note; that’s all I remember from it. I’m no Johnny Cash.

My boys never cared that I wasn’t. They also never laughed. 

I hope on some future Father’s Day eve, as they are drifting into sleep, they’ll too remember how I held them and sang to them, and they’ll feel it fondly. Beatles, Cash, Prince. Dylan, Lennon and the others I can’t name.