“You could’ve been a legend/ But you became a father/ That’s what you are today/ That’s what you are today.”
-The National, “Slipping Husband”
I’ve met many a Sad Dad in my day. You know the story. The kid is on another coast, the ex-wife is crazy and maybe trying to kill him, and all he wants is to be with the kid, but he can’t be within 100 miles of his ex-wife...
Wait. You don’t know the story? Oh, then you clearly don’t hang out in City of Fairfax bars as much as I do. Good for you.
There’s a saying that goes, “Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Dad!” I find this statement to be flawed. Five-year-olds can’t be fathers. I can’t be a father. More than half the population of the world can’t be a father.
If I were in charge of the world, I’d change this saying to, “Any reproductively virile man can be a father, but it takes a real rock star to sing songs about how he’s doing a shitty job at it.” Here are my favorite songs from the point of view of sad, absent fathers.
If you like thinking about punk rock dads as much as I do, then first of all, you should check out this documentary, The Other F Word. Art Alexakis’ appearance in this film especially stands out, because, uhm, his childhood was basically Kite Runner for white people?!
“Annabella’s Song” is your typical Sad Dad anthem. He is never there, and then he expects you to understand! “You know I’m never home/ I’m always miles and miles away...Call you on the telephone/ You will not talk to me/ Yeah you don’t understand/ You are my everything.”
Oh, please. I never had an absent father, but I have listened to “Father of Mine,” so I basically know what it’s all about. Art, your approach to fathering sounds just about as confusing as sending a birthday card with a 5 dollar bill. She never understood you then, and I guess she never will.
What is the best way to start off a song to your toddler daughter to try and prove that you are a loving, devoted, mature father? How about “Yo, I can’t sing but/ I feel like fuckin’ singin’/ I wanna fuckin’ sing”? Yeah, that’ll do the trick.
Do me a favor, Hailie. i know you are a big girl now, but please promise me not to listen to “Kim.” Not even if you are trying to get pumped up before a big volleyball match. Not even if your mom grounds you and is being a total bitch. Okay? Okay.
Arguably the least sad of the Sad Dads, this song is more wistful than anything. He loves his baby girl and doesn’t want her to grow up. And of all the Sad Dads, he is arguably doing the best job. Check out this review Gracie wrote of her dad’s album at age 13. You’re 13, Gracie! You aren’t supposed to like anything, especially your dad!!
First of all, check out how fuckin’ punk rock that 4 year old girl in the video is! If I dressed like that at age 4, man, I really would have had a leg up on the world. But I guess having a real dad, not an absent one who sings in a band and occasionally showers you with gifts from Hot Topic Baby, has its downfalls.
This song is particularly eye-roll inducing for a multitude of reasons. First of all, the title. Second of all, our hero Kris Roe (what a name) begins by dramatically declaring, “I know what it’s like growing up without a father in your life.” With a name like Kris, I can’t help but wonder whether he ever had a father to begin with, or was just immaculately conceived by a valley girl living in a trailer park.
But I digress. If you know what it’s like growing up without a father in your life, and that is such a bad thing, why continue the cycle?
Oh, right. Because you’re in a mildly successful, mediocre punk band. That sounds like a good enough reason.
Roe continues with the heart-wrenching lyrics, “So I’ll pretend, I’m doing all I can/ And hope someday you find it in your heart/ To understand why I’m not around/ And forgive me for not being in your life.”
Oh, Kris Roe. Don’t you know that the first step to pretending that you care is not to tell everyone that you’re pretending? That’s the first rule of Absent Father’s Club.
But it looks like you have the second rule down: Make empty promises. The song ends with Roe assuring his daughter, “I will make it up to you.”
So, my dear absent dads, while you are alone punishing a 12-pack of Coors Light tonight, maybe pick up that old guitar and write a heavy-handed song for that daughter of yours that never wants to see you again. It won’t make her any less mad at you, but it might make you some money.