Saturday, January 7, 2017

All My Dad's Mistakes




Guthrie was here from his home in San Francisco for the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. In that rare and precious time we sat around and bullshitted about the meaning of life and how sometimes it can seem so frickin' hard. We played guitars and watched hockey. This song was written while reflecting on that week. 

Kids grow up and move away and make their own lives. I thought life was a struggle when they were little but it wasn't; it's a struggle when you leave them at the airport.

Photo by Mary Wyman at the Marston, Wisconsin Culver's Restaurant

All My Dad's Mistakes
© Eddie Allen Music 2017

I once made a list
Of all my dad's mistakes
I underlined the ones I swore
That I would never make
I came upon it recently
Forty years too late
I guess when I wrote this down
I was just about your age

He smoked Camel cigarettes
When all they made were straights
A pack set him back about fifteen cents
In nineteen forty-eight
And when they went to twenty cents
He swore he'd give 'em up
Back when he had that heart attack
His last pack cost a buck

On Friday night he'd drink too much
Blatz was his favorite brand
There wuddeninny pull tabs then
He punched two holes in the can
It was a job I couldn't do
Not with my tiny hands
He'd give me a sip of beer
Called me his little man

Your grandma she was sick a lot
There were lots of pills and bills
Five boys and a low-wage job
There was nothin' left for frills
He always felt the pressure
The wolf was always at the door
And he always buckled under
A thing I always blamed him for

He never talked about his feelings 
That's not a thing a man would do
And when I took to drinkin'
I learned to hide my feelings too
'Cause shame is not a feeling
You wanna wear out on your sleeve
And broken trust is not a thing
A boy knows how to grieve

He cooked a meal that left me hungry
On a fire that left me cold
And like a bath that leaves you dirty
Or a story left untold
Your connection to your father
Should never tie you down
But like a bowstring to an arrow
Should help you fly above the ground

I finally found a smoother road
But not before I'd walked his path
Stumbled in his deepest footprints
And stained my knees with grass
But somehow I got up again
Found the courage to move on
The story of the father need not be
The story of the son

Now I offer this to you 
As if I'd offer up a prayer
Why don't you make your own list too
And then you can compare
I have been where you are now
If you feel lost then just stand still
The world will come to you my son
I promise you it will

And using all my limitations
I'll stay standing by your side
I will feel your frustrations
And my heart will fill with pride
To see the life before you rising up
As my life is winding down
And I'll be here if you need me
For as long as I'm around

I once made a list 
Of all my dad's mistakes
I underlined the ones I swore
That I would never make