With Father’s Day this weekend, we wanted today’s blog post to be more personal. Guest blogger Caitlin Quinn, Outreach and Marketing Assistant submitted a beautiful message for us today. Here it is in Caitlin’s own words.
Happy Father’s Day to all Dads out there! Really, you’re great, and we don’t tell you enough. Me? I don’t tell my father, Walt Quinn enough. Below is the most precious father a child could ever imagine—do you see how proud he is of himself for cooking a chile relleno properly? And do you see the delight on his face after a simple kiss on the cheek from me?!
My father was born in Riverside, California, grew up in Catholic School, was taught by Frank Zappa’s dad, was member of a San Francisco cult band who toured with Tina Turner and the Doubie Brothers, is a former hippie, surfer, romantic, recovering addict, and to me, the BEST dad. He won’t mind me telling you, in fact he would love me to say it—he’s been in recovery for 33 years. I’m 25 years old, never saw him drink a sip of alcohol, and neither have my mother and brother. Yet, I am an adult daughter of an alcoholic. Recovery of the body, mind, blood, and soul—what he is has seeped into my brother and me (I work at a treatment facility and my brother is proudly in recovery).
When I was really little, I went with my dad to the AA Family events at the Big White House in the center of Nashville’s Music Row. Dad ate barbecue and caught up with my “uncles” while I chased other kids my age around the parking lot. On the outdoor stage, my godfather would open up the mic to sing Neil Young’s “The Damage Done,” and many other Nashville staple musicians would follow with their favorite recovery songs. This was a regular event. That Big White House was the first memory I have of dad, AA and recovery. However, it wasn’t until I was much older that I began to understand my dad, the addict.
My dad and his band still have a reunion once a year in San Francisco. One day I was googling his name to find out more information when I stumbled upon a survey he had filled out for the band’s website. My father’s responses are below, and it is him inside and out.
On why he began listening to Top 40 Radio in the 60’s: In 1962, I was twelve years old and I remember hearing “The Fish” by Bobby Rydell, “It Will Stand” by the Showmen, and “Cupid” by Sam Cooke. I had a 21 year old sister and up till then I had only heard her Broadway show albums. They were so boring and the songs on the radio were infectious and stirring. It spoke to me. I remember watching American Bandstand and trying to look thin, dark, and Italian. I was fat, white, and Irish. That gap between fantasy and reality has led to many dark and unholy places. But I did learn how to dress by watching the show.
On asking him why he joined the band: “To be honest with you, I was in a clinical depression and could barely leave my dorm without getting totally drunk. It seemed like a good form of therapy.”
His weirdest moment with the band: “Marauding rednecks in Rome Georgia trying to get on the stage and beat us up. Unfortunately, their hiding space in front of the 4′x6′ neon sign was inadequate. They were exposed mid-stride and thrown bodily out of the club by the bouncers. Also, trying to sing at the Coal Yard totally drunk on [Quaaludes]. Jerry asked me to sit in the front and watch that night.”
He spoke so candidly and dryly about his mental health, drug and alcohol use. For the first time, I felt I understood him. I have always put my father on a pedestal because he’s funnier and smarter than any dad I know, but I don’t think I ever saw him as a person. He is truly human, dynamic, and feels deeply the bad and the good.
On his ulterior uses of music: 8th grade graduation party from St. Catherine’s School. Jody Staylor has announced she is my girlfriend. One problem, she is leaving for Nova Scotia. One night. A party at Phil Hergenrater’s house. I had them play “Sealed With A Kiss” by Brian Hyland and “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” by Paul Anka over and over. First memory the smell of perfume the feel of Angora on my cheek, my first kiss. The horror when she runs off with the girls and discusses the issue of the TONGUE. But in the end, the music worked. It never fails.
On The One song: Like A Rolling Stone – It started with the wicked rim shot at the beginning. No other song has consolidated American music like it did. Listen to it and you can even hear La Bamba in it. No damn song has ever meant so much. Hands down the great anthem of twentieth century America. As big as the Bible.
My dad. Happy Father’s Day.