I heard the song when I was 19 years old and, even then, I knew I was going to turn out to be one of “those” Dads. The song is called Katie and it is about a rambunctious little girl and a Dad who gets wrapped around her finger. It was written by a folk singer named Tom Paxton and, as soon as I heard it, I knew I would be like Tom Paxton, and would be a marshmallow Dad. I knew I would have a Katie some day.
Last night, at the Dakota Bar and Restaurant, I sat with Marlys and listened to Tom Paxton; many decades removed from his days as a young Greenwich Village folk singer hanging out with Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. He is now a 70-something grandfather, playing memories for aging boomers like me. I loved every minute of it and, during the intermission, I called my Katie, who happened to turn 22 on that very day, and told her I was listening to the man who gave us her name. Katie is off at college in Madison, so we could not be with her on her birthday. The last line in the song is “That’s my Katie, little lady and I love her”. I texted that to Katie right after the call, and she texted me back. It was not quite as good as having her here with us; but it was close.
If you are in the mood for a sentimental moment of your own, here is a link to the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAZXOAiiLsAIf . If you are a Dad, or a Mom, or if you have ever had a Dad or a Mom, or if you have an ounce of sentimentality, you will want to have a box of Kleenex nearby.
It is worth mentioning that Tom Paxton performed with Janis Ian last night, another boomer legend who shocked the world when she wrote Society’s Child at age 13, a poignant and controversial song about race written in the early 60’s. If you have heard of Janis Ian, you may be more familiar with her other big hit, At Seventeen, a heartfelt song about a young teenage girl coming of age. It was a wonderful evening; as I look for the common thread in it all, I suppose there are several; boomer sentimentality; fatherhood; young girls; the 60’s; folk music; maybe just the feeling you get of being truly alive when you hear a song that finds its way deep into your soul.
Music can do that to me, in a way that mere words cannot. It finds a place in me that cannot be found in any other way. If I were more sophisticated, I suppose I would say that this is the role that art, of all kinds, has on each of us. But being who I am, I will take the simpler course and say that last night struck something deep in me and reminded me how much I love being a Dad.