Monday, January 9, 2012

The Best Gift of 2011

When I was young I spent most of my free time with my dad. He likes to keep busy, work with his hands, and keep a long list of hobbies. On weekends, we'd build model rockets from scratch and launch them, hunt for agates in the quarries or trilobites on the side of Iowa roads, garden, skip stones on the river, or meticulously record perfect mix tapes from vinyl records.

Sometime between the ages of 4 and 6, he made me a very important tape, "Dog Fight Giggle." Having begun climbing drawers onto cabinets before I could walk, my parents dubbed me "Monkey."  The whole Monkey thing was the main theme behind Dog Fight Giggle, including every song Dad could think of with the word "monkey" in it, mixed in with other animal related songs. 

I wore the tape out. And then eventually, after doing the constant college apartment shuffle, I lost it. Every time I'd visit my childhood home, I would dig a little more in hopes of finding it. The All 4 One and MC Hammer tapes survived, having been left safely in their cases in my closet after I'd outgrown their music. Losing Dog Fight Giggle was one of my greatest laments. I remember sitting with my dad while he produced it. I remember my childhood obsession with it. I remember a few of the songs, but not well enough to recreate it.

Completely from memory over 20 years later, my dad managed to recreate Dog Fight Giggle, this time on his new vinyl to CD gadget. Of course I have no idea if it's in the same order as the original, and it is definitely missing one song ("Been Caught Stealin'" by Jane's know, the one with the dogs barking?), but it is absolutely perfect. My dad has always had a taste for peculiar music--reflected well on this mix--and it has absolutely shaped my taste. Without having a clue that "Ape Man" was on this mix so many years ago, I heard it again for the first time as an adult and quickly adopted it as my favorite song by one of my favorite bands.

Little Feat- Down on the Farm
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes- When You Dance
Trio- Boom Boom
Jethro Tull- Bungle in the Jungle
Joe Nash- All Night Laundromat Blues  *so excellent, you guys!
Pink Floyd- Seamus
Todd Rundgren- Medley/Dog Fight Giggle
Rolling Stones- Monkey Man
Kinks- Ape Man
Beatles- Except Me and My Monkey, Oh-Bla-Di, Oh-Bla-Da
Los Lobos- No Anchovies Please
JoJo Gunne- How Will the Wolf Survive
Sweet- White Mice
Fleetwood Mac- I'm a Roadrunner, Hypnotized
James Gang- Funk #48
Heart- Dog & the Butterfly

The Obscure Classics was a bonus CD gift mostly of the same artists' even less commercially popular songs. 

I love my dad.


  1. What a neat story & a thoughtful dad you have B.

  2. This teared me up, pal. What a wonderful gift and seat of memories.

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