Day 107: A song that reminds you of one of your parents.

“The Last Farewell” – Roger Whittaker

The Last FarewellI’ve written a number of times about my parents’ taste in music. And there were many instances where, because of their influence, I like artists and songs that I should hate, given my normal genre preferences.

There are just as many that I don’t like. Strangely enough, these seem to fall more on the side of my father’s preferences than my mother’s. No question that there are plenty of artist my mother liked that induce retching on my part. But in terms of percentages, my dad wins the retch-fest.

His tastes were certainly more eclectic than my mom’s. While she stayed pretty much in the country-to-pop range, my dad’s tastes included much of the country that my mom liked (and less of the pop), but also extended to such artists as Kenny G and Zamfir (and that God-damned pan flute of his).

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Zamfir should be exiled to hell for his part in keeping pan-flute music alive. Without him, we wouldn’t have the ongoing scourge of street performers who somehow think a pan flute rendition of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” is something to be proud of. (I just made that up, but damned if I didn’t find one for the samples.)

But I digress.

Now, while I could probably guess, I’m not sure I could definitively identify a Kenny G or Zamfir song. (This is a good thing.) However, one of the artists that he liked, I can identify. (This is a bad thing.) That artist is Roger Whittaker.

Roger Whittaker is British-Kenyan folk singer, (um… what?) and has had most of his success in the UK and Europe. But there was a while in the 70s and early 80s where he had some inroads to the US market. “The Last Farewell” was his most popular song, reaching #19 on the Hot 100 chart in 1975. (It was actually his only US chart hit, making him a “One-Hit Wonder.”) Its trip to the charts in the US is actually kind of an interesting story.

My dad latched onto “The Last Farewell” somewhere along the line, and picked up some of Whittaker’s albums as well. I have distinct memories of being forced to listen to them while riding in his pride-and-joy 1989 Grand Marquis. In fact, I remember the album cover (cassette, actually) shown above as one of the offenders.

While it’s not the worst song in the world, it’s definitely not something I’m fond of either. That said, I’d give a lot to have my dad, who died in 2001, back and be able to listen to it with him a few more times.

Sorry, I didn’t intend to get all depressing on you.

Musical taste is an odd thing. It’s interesting how you can be exposed to certain things in relatively equal amounts, and for some you start to like them and for others, there’s just no hope. (I mean, for Zamfir it’s obvious. I’m not sure how anyone can put up with that.)

So Jim Reeves and Anne Murray get a pass; Roger Whittaker and Kenny G, no way. Too bad I’m not a Ph.D. I bet there’s a grant in there, somewhere.