dad rocker

Kevin Court­ney tries to sing one for his baby

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Opinion -

Some things just make you want to sing: fall­ing in love, watch­ing your team win, be­com­ing a fa­ther for the first time. Words can’t ex­press the feel­ing you get when you see that won­drous cre­ation smil­ing back at you, but that hasn’t stopped many a song­smith from try­ing.

Some­times, look­ing at lit­tle Daniel grin­ning gum­mily up at me, I think to my­self, I’ll write a song about the lit­tle fella (and sell zil­lions of copies, thus putting him through col­lege). It can’t be that hard – all you have to do is list all his good traits (pretty eyes, beau­ti­ful smile, kick like a mule), write a catchy melody and hey presto – roy­al­ties-a-go-go.

Sadly, I’m not much cop as a song­writer, and the only word I can think of that rhymes with Daniel is a breed of dog. Not very poignant. Okay, I know you don’t have to rhyme his name, but you do have to find words that res­onate with the pop-lis­ten­ing pub­lic. If rock’n’roll his­tory is any­thing to go by, that’s eas­ier said than done.

At some stage in a rock star’s life, he will be­come a fa­ther (with all that girl ac­tion, how could he avoid it?). And, at some stage, he will sit down and write a song about the lit­tle bun­dle of joy. The song will end up on his band’s album, de­spite the protests of the other mem­bers, and fans will au­to­mat­i­cally skip over that track and get straight to the ones about sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.

Songs writ­ten by rock stars about their kids tend to be dot­ing, mawk­ish and sen­ti­men­tal – hardly the cri­te­ria for kick-ass rock. If there’s one thing that’s guar­an­teed to turn your song­writ­ing to mush, it’s be­com­ing a dad.

John Len­non wrote Beau­ti­ful Boy for his son Sean and was shot dead shortly af­ter­wards; the two events are not thought to be con­nected. Len­non dis­ci­ple Liam Gal­lagher is not known for both­er­ing his arse to write songs, and with Lit­tle James, writ­ten about his wife Patsy Ken­sit’s son from her mar­riage to Jim Kerr, he re­ally shouldn’t have both­ered. The only thing mem­o­rable about Ru­fus Is a Tit Man, writ­ten by Loudon Wain­wright III, is that Ru­fus fa­mously turned out to be any­thing but a tit man.

There are ex­cep­tions. Kooks, writ­ten by David Bowie for lit­tle Zowie, is charm­ing. But the best one by far is Sarah, a lovely song writ­ten by Phil Lynott that can still make a grown man sigh.

If you’re go­ing to write a song about a child, make sure it’s your own and not one you’re babysit­ting for, as Gil­bert O’Sul­li­van did with Clair. The par­ents might won­der what was go­ing on while they were at the opera. Also, make sure it’s not so sickly sweet and stinkily cheesy that your off­spring grows up un­able to have a ra­dio in the room. Given the choice be­tween Ste­vie Won­der’s Su­per­sti­tion or Isn’t She Lovely, I’ll take the voodoo over the goo-goo any day.

So, maybe I’ll just leave the bad song­writ­ing to the pro­fes­sion­als, and find a more fit­ting way to sing lit­tle Daniel’s praises – a col­umn in The Ticket, per­haps. At least it’s less likely to haunt him in the fu­ture.


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