Dad's Records is all about my Dad enriching my musical world with suggestions from the past. But of course, it's a two-way street. A few times a year, and always at Christmas, I give my dad a CD of what I think he'll most enjoy from the current music scene. So for every The Sopwich Camel, there has to be a corresponding A.A. Bondy.

So here's a preview of what I'll be giving my dad this Christmas. Consider this my...

Best of 2009...For Your Dad

[ mp3 ]: Wilco - You And I

It seems you can't make a mix for your dad without putting at least one Wilco song on there. Dads love Wilco. It's a law of nature. Like gravity. Or girls liking Glee.

This song is one of my favorites of this year's Wilco (The Album). If any of you have seen these guys live, you know they're the most musically skillful band out there. They make it look so easy. And this song sure is easy on the ears.

[ mp3 ]: Real Estate - Beach Comber

I'll admit it. I found these guys in the blogosphere. It's not my most favorite way of discovering music, but as soon as I heard them, I wasn't ashamed. I like to think of them as a band you'd find gathered around a bonfire on the beach somewhere south of San Francisco. I don't where they're from, but that's what they sound like to me.  Imagine a sunnier Built to Spill.

[ mp3 ]: Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks

Well, there's not much more that can be said about this one. From Pitchfork, to NPR, to every blog every in the world ever created ever, this is almost unanimously the song of the year. I think I first fell in love with it after watching the trippy video. Does anyone else think there's something Swedish about these guys' voices? They remind me of Jens Lekman, or Sondre Lerche. Nice work, fellows.

To see the next here!

I know I just skipped eleven years by jumping all the way to Neil's 1978 classic Comes a Time. And those were some pretty great years - Harvest, Tonight's the Night, On the Beach, Zuma - those are some of Neil's strongest records. Harvest was a cultural touchstone, while Zuma contains one of my favorite tracks of all time, Cortez the Killer.

But if Neil could ever be accused of having an underrated album, I think this would be it.

Comes a Time was precursed (and pre-cursed) by American Stars 'N Bars, a bizzare record in which Neil's attitude is best illustrated by his pose on the album cover - I rest my case. Needless to say, it was not well received. So when Comes a Time was released in '78, everyone was thrilled that Neil had returned to the tone he nailed with Harvest. Countrified rock with senitmental lyrics, a worldliness with a sense of weariness, vintage Neil Young.


Christmas with my family has many traditions; going to church Christmas Eve, hanging our stockings, opening gifts, and eating tons of cinnamon rolls.  Our dad still reads 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to us every year, as we gather around a fire with several dachshunds on our laps.

And the past few years, I've noticed that every Christmas, Neil Young is there. Last year I got my dad tickets to go see Neil in New York City, when he played at the United Palace. The year before I got my dad the Jonathan Demme documentary Heart of Gold.  Even when there isn't a gift that was specifically created by Neil Young, my dad and I spend at least one afternoon listening to his music.

So forgive me for doing two posts in a row about Neil Young, but for me, Christmas time means home, and home is me, my dad, and a Neil Young album. (and the aforementioned dachshunds)

Neil Young's self-titled debut in 1969 was good, but his second solo record and his first with long-time backing group Crazy Horse was where he really defined himself as a rock'n'roll force. The songs on Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere are more loose, raw, and powerful; for many, this really is the first Neil Young record.

The album starts with Cinnamon Girl, a heavy rocker that for my money may be the best lead-off track on any album ever.

[ mp3 ]: Neil Young - Cinnamon Girl


When I was growing up, the only thing that saved all my friends from becoming hip-hop aficionados (not that tragic) was Nirvana, and what saved me from being a Nirvana aficionado (more tragic) was this album. Now, Neil Young is my dad's favorite artist. Hands down, no contest. He is my favorite now, too. But for a while, growing up, I thought his voice was too 'weird.' How could a professional musician have a voice that was so uncool? Silly, stupid, young Nelson.

Like any good teenager, I LOVED the Seattle grunge scene. I wore flannel, played my music loud, I even bought Stone Temple Pilots records, not realizing back then that they were really faking it. When Pearl Jam made Mirrorball with Neil Young, calling him the godfather of grunge, worlds collided. Suddenly, my dad's love for Neil was more than just a quirky obsession - it was Eddie Vedder-approved!

So I went back into the Neil catalog, and of course, one of my first stops was Southern Man, the song that got Lynyrd Skynyrd's panties in a twist (...i hope Neil Young will remember...southern man don't need him 'round, anyhow...) Southern Man is actually an indictment of racism in the south; so, way to read the subtext, Skynyrd.

[ mp3 ]: Neil Young - Southern Man


Mark Knopfler will always hold a special place in my heart. That place is right next to where John Hiatt lives, and both plots are pretty small, but only because Neil Young's got all the acreage.

When I first heard Dire Straits' Brothers In Arms, I was in my dad's Volkswagen, probably on the way to some baseball card show in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. We did that a lot back then - at least once a month we'd find a baseball card show advertised in the Morning Call's sports pages, my dad would drive us, and then my brother and I would blow all our lawn-mowing cash on completing the 1993 Upper Deck full set, or collecting all of Ricky Bottalico's rookie cards. These were simpler times.

Anyway, when I first heard Knopfler's voice, I asked my dad if we were listening to Bob Dylan. There was something about Sultans of Swing that struck me as Dylan-esque, in my tweenage ignorance. Little did I know I had just discovered a guitar and voice that I would enjoy much more than Dylan in the next decade. On the porch, in the car, during emotional adolescent soul-searching in my bedroom; the rolling, liquid reverberations of Knopfler's guitar were so often the perfect accompaniment.

I didn't find this oft-overlooked soundtrack until years later. It's bright yellow binding jumped out of my dad's collection, and while the album is mostly instrumental, the themes and hooks Knopfler injects make it unmistakingly his. Each track adds theme on top of theme, until the last track layers them all together, in a gorgeous slow build:

[ mp3 ]: Mark Knopfler - Going Home (Theme of Local Hero)


I got a decent amount of feedback regarding my last post about Steve Forbert, so thought I'd follow up with his second record, Jackrabbit Slim. This is considered by many to be the best Forbert record, and it was certainly the most successful commercially. Romeo's Tune was his only top 20 hit, the piano riff as catchy as a Beyonce jingle, poetic lyrics with spot on vocals. Definitely a mix-tape keeper.

[mp3]: Steve Forbert - Romeo's Tune

The song is written so well, it even survived a Keith Urban mauling:
Really not that bad. But I do hate that guy's fake southern accent.