Father’s Day Edition – Daily Dose: Hayden, “No Happy Birthday”

A beautifully conceived song about fatherhood written by a criminally underrated singer-songwriter for his daughter.

I’ve been waiting, I’ve been thinking.
I’ve been wanting to sing you this song
I know you may not, understand my thoughts,
but you will know where it’s coming from

Grab your guitar. Or your maracas.
Play with me on your wooden drum
It’s no Happy Birthday, but it’s my way,
maybe one day you’ll sing along

And as you go through life, they may be unkind.
I won’t always be there by your side.
That’s on my mind, yeah, that’s on my mind.
That’s on my mind almost all of the time.

We’re always walking, in the morning,
and you look up with your beautiful stare.
And you start talking, and there’s no stopping,
you say so much you run out of air.
And then we’re running, to tell your mommy. We never make it back to our street.
There’s where I wake up. Always the same spot. My heart singing a song so sweet.

And as you go through life, you will bring such light.
That’s how I picture it most of the time.
That’s how my mind, yeah, that’s how my mind.
That’s how my mind keeps my heart in line.
Yeah, that’s how my mind, yeah, that’s how my mind.
That’s how my mind keeps my heart in line.

Grab your guitar. Or your maracas,
play with me on your wooden drum.
So Happy Birthday, but it’s my way,
maybe one day you’ll sing along.

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Nostos Nic and her father, c. 1985.

He Did

I frequent the same coffee shop every morning on my way to work. This addiction means I’ve developed a rapport with the staff, particularly a young kid from Mexico City who has an earnest sweetness to him. This morning, the morning after Father’s Day, he asked me “Did you call your Dad this weekend?” I replied, with an uncomfortable chuckle, “Uh huh, no. I didn’t. My Dad’s dead,” as I scurried to the other end of the bar and away from the eager customer behind me, jonesing for java on a Monday morn. When I turned the same question on him he told me he didn’t know his father. Never did.

I bid him good day, and walked out to my car. Sliding into the driver seat of the VW my Dad posthumously purchased for me, I took a moment. I set my latte down, tossed my piece of illicit crumb cake onto the passneger seat, and rummaged for a CD from the glove compartment to realign my professional comportment. Fish, fish fish and found it–Anais Mitchell’s Young Man in America.

I forwarded through to Track 6, “He Did,” which accompanies this post in video form despite it delivering no video (not my preference, but it’ll do the job in a pinch). I default to music in times of (let’s say) stress without a second thought, as compulsory as an irregular heartbeat, because music makes memory move and marks moments; it heals through submersion since feelings felt fully are the ones that will eventually form a scab. While it probably made other customers uncomfortable, the exchange with my beloved barrista reminded me that while the void is very deep, still, in spite of passing years, at least there is a hole to fill. A path to find. A row to hoe. And an empty page to fill. It reminded me of how it feels to be my father’s daughter, alive like this.

For if nothing else, I am my father’s daughter.