“Father of Mine”

“Father of Mine”

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song

Art Alexakis
“Father of Mine”

Written by Art Alexakis
Recorded by Everclear

A good lyric, a good story, and a good melody make a good song. The production is the gravy. This song is universal as it has no social or economic boundaries.

“Father of Mine” is autobiographical. It’s about my father splitting from our family and divorce from a kid’s point of view. I wrote it after being divorced from the mother of my kid and expressed the disillusionment everyone feels.

I was born in Santa Monica, California in 1962, the youngest of five children in a very dysfunctional family. There was constant fighting. My father was physically abusive to the point where there were fist fights amongst the family. Clearly, he was not a good father or husband. It was a very emotional time. When I was six, my mom left my dad.

Women had no rights then so, although my mom owned a couple of houses, without my dad signing them over — which he wouldn’t do, she couldn’t get a loan and the houses went into foreclosure. She wanted the five of us to grow up in our house. We ultimately moved to a housing project in Culver City in Los Angeles even though she worked two jobs to support us. We never missed a meal and always had clean clothes, a place to live and plenty of love.

She was from the south, not very well educated, out of her mind a lot, but loved her children fiercely. The main things she gave me were tenacity and a sense of right and wrong. In 1978 she died from her sixth bout with cancer, but she was ready to go. She left me with weirdness and a lot of songs.

My dad had moved to Florida because he couldn’t be extradited from there to adhere to the Deadbeat Dad laws. In Florida, he met another woman and supported her kids. I’ve spoken in front of the Congressional sub-committee on Bill HR 1488 which tried to take the power to effect existing laws from the states to the federal government. It did not pass.

My dad’s almost 90 now and still doesn’t get it. The last time I spoke with him was when my mom was terminally ill. He said he wanted to see my daughter and I told him that in order to have a relationship, all he had to do was call my mother and be accountable and let her talk, and I’d forgive him. He never made the call.

My role models were a drug addict brother who overdosed and a drug addict brother-in-law who could never control his demons and was abusive to my sister, who finally left him.

The whole idea of being a parent is that we can give our kids less damage than our parents gave us. My oldest daughter is a great human being; my little one is fiery. I love being a parent. It’s the best thing in the world. It makes it all make sense to me.

When my first baby was born, Everclear was a brand new band. It was two years before we had a label deal. I was on welfare and started crying one night. I realized I wasn’t the main priority anymore. Once I accepted that, I knew that I’d figure it out. I had to.

I love moms. People don’t usually get salted in life, they’re not as interesting until they’re parents. I could be in a line at Wal-Mart and be behind an NRA (National Rifle Association) person with nothing in common except that she’s a mom and I’m a dad. There’s a universal understanding and bond that allows us to connect and communicate.

“Father of Mine”

Father of mine

Tell me where have you been.

You know I just close my eyes

My whole world disappeared.

Father of mine

Take me back to the day

Yeah, when I was still your golden boy

Back before you went away.

I remember blue skies

Walking the block

I loved it when you held me high,

I loved to hear you talk.

You would take me to the movies,

You would take me to the beach,

Take me to a place inside

That was so hard to reach.

Father of mine

Tell me, where did you go?

You had the world inside your hand

But you did not seem to know.

Father of mine

Tell me, what do you see

When you look back at your wasted life

And you don’t see me?

I was ten years old

Doing all that

I could

It wasn’t easy for me

To be a scared white boy in a black neighborhood.

Sometimes you would send me a birthday card

With a five dollar bill.

Yeah, I never understood you then

And I guess I never will.

Daddy gave me a name

My daddy gave me a name

Then he walked away.

Daddy gave me a name

Then he walked away.

My daddy gave me a name…

Daddy gave me a name

My daddy gave me a name

Then he walked away.

Daddy gave me a name

Then he walked away.

My daddy gave me a name…

Yeah, yeah, oh yeah

Father of mine

Tell me where have you been?

I just close my eyes

And the world disappeared.

Father of mine

Tell me how do you sleep

With the children you abandoned

And the wife I saw you beat?

I will never be safe

I will never be sane

I will always be weird inside

I will always be lame.

Now I’m a grown man

With a child of my own

And I swear that I’m not gonna let her know

All the pain

I have known.

Then he walked away.

Daddy gave me a name

Then he walked away.

My daddy gave me a name

Then he walked away.

My daddy gave me a name

Then he walked away.

My daddy gave me a name

Then he walked away

Then he walked away

Then he walked away.

Lyrics and Music by Art Alexakis. © 1997 Evergleam Music/Songs of Universal, Inc/Montalupis Music/Commongreen Music/Irving Music, Inc.

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