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Sunday, June 16, 2013

My Father's Eyes

Okay, so once again, I'm going to make this blog entry short and sweet, as I am still absolutely exhausted from participating in the Relay for Life. I should be back to normal come tomorrow, but I think for this entry, I will keep it to the bare minimum.

So, first things first, I want to take the opportunity to wish all fathers out there a very Happy Father's Day! I certainly hope that you take the opportunity to do what you want to do and spend the entire day loving your children. I am not a father yet, but I know that if the time ever comes that I become one, I'm sure that I'll appreciate Father's Day a little bit more.

Not that I don't appreciate it now, as I really do admire my own father. But, I'm going to be totally honest. Although we have a fairly good relationship now, it didn't always used to be that way. When I was a teenager, I rebelled against him something fierce, and it wasn't uncommon for us to butt heads and get into screaming matches over what seemed like the dumbest things. We didn't always see eye to eye sometimes, and it hurt me that he could never see things through my perspective. But I also have to look at it as it probably hurt him that I couldn't see things through his own eyes. Our relationship today couldn't be better, but looking back on it, I kind of wish that I had done things a little more differently than I had. But, unless you're Doctor Who, you cannot build yourself a TARDIS and change the past. All you can do is learn from your mistakes and move on. The point is that the relationship between my dad and I is fairly good now, and I'm glad that it is.

But, some people just aren't as lucky. In the age of the Maury Povich paternity testing scandals that seemingly pop up every few days, some people grow up not even knowing their fathers. Some don't even reconnect with their fathers until after the die, or they are on their deathbed. On the flipside, some fathers only become fathers for such a short time before tragedy rears its head and takes their children away in a cruel twist of fate, and some dads are left wondering why.

In the case of today's blog entry, the singer that we will be featuring was hit with a double whammy in the case of fatherhood. Not only did he grow up not knowing who his own father was, but he lost his son in a very tragic manner.

Of course, you might recall that this man wrote a song about the death of his four-year-old son, Conor, which became the 1992 hit single “Tears in Heaven”. But it would take an additional six years before this man's true feelings about his own father would be released in another song...which appropriately enough also touched upon the feelings that this man had in regards to the tragedy he faced head on six years earlier.

I'm sure that some of you know what this song is. But if you don't, here it is.

ARTIST: Eric Clapton
SONG: My Father's Eyes
ALBUM: Pilgrim
DATE RELEASED: February 17, 1998

NOTE: This song spent five weeks at the #2 position on the Adult Contemporary Charts in 1998.

Now in order to fully express the emotions and the feelings that are presented within “My Father's Eyes”, you have to understand the background information behind what inspired this song.

Namely, the story behind the personal tragedies that Eric Clapton had to face within his life.

Now, I'm sure that most of you are absolutely aware of the story of Conor Clapton, Eric's son with Lory Del Santo, who was killed in March 1991 after accidentally falling from a fifty-third story balcony from a Manhattan highrise. He was just four years old at the time of his death, and his death hit Eric hard. Reportedly, Eric hid away from the world in isolation several months after Conor's death. It was just the latest in a long line of personal tragedies that Eric had to experience. Just a few months earlier in the summer of 1990, Eric's manager and a pair of roadies were killed in a helicopter crash (the same crash that killed musician/singer Stevie Ray Vaughan), and he was already grieving those losses at the time of Conor's death. However, Conor's death was also the catalyst in seeing a deeper side to Eric's music. The songs that followed in the tragedy of Conor's death with heartfelt and filled with pure emotion.

But, I bet that some of you didn't know that Eric grew up not knowing his own father.

When Eric Patrick Clapton was born in Surrey, England on March 30, 1945, he was born to a 16-year-old mother, Patricia Mary Clapton, and a 25-year-old Canadian soldier, Edward Walter Fryer. The reason why Eric's father was not in his life was because of circumstances that developed at the tail end of World War II. You see, Edward Fryer was serving in England when he and Eric's mother were together, but was deployed once more prior to Eric's birth, and once the war ended, Eric's father returned to Canada. As a result, Eric grew up not knowing him. Eric's father died in May 1985, leaving Eric with nothing but questions about the man who helped create him.

Hence the creation of the song, “My Father's Eyes”.

Now, if you listen to the lyrics of the song, you may keenly point out that the song is divided into three separate parts.

The first verse deals with Eric's thoughts on never knowing his own father. With lyrics like “waiting for my prince to come” and “just a toe rag on the run, how did I get here? What have I done?”, the questions that Eric probably asked himself in regards to why his father wasn't around were firmly placed in musical verse. I think by listening to the first verse of the song, we get the sense of just what growing up without a father is really like. And, sadly, millions of us out there in this world can empathize.

After the first chorus, we go ahead with verse number two. Verse number two talks about Eric becoming a father himself. And, while Eric has had four children in his life, I have a feeling that the second verse is all about the time of his life when his son Conor was born. The joy he felt about “watching his seedling grow” and feeling his “heart start to overflow”.

However, while Eric expressed his joy in watching his son grow up, he firmly acknowledges that while he is happy to have a son in his life, he has no idea how to raise him, for he didn't exactly have a father who stuck around and taught him all the things that a father can teach his son. That's why he wishes that he could have his father's eyes show him how to handle the responsibility of raising a child. To prepare him for that challenge.

Of course, nothing could have ever prepared Eric for the challenge of having to saw goodbye to Conor, whose life was cut tragically short. And, in the final verse, we know that Eric is singing about his death, as the images of clouds of tears, how his bridge has been washed away, and how his foundation has turned to clay could not be more true. I can only imagine that any parent who has lost a child would feel the same way.

But, here's the twist of the song. As Eric questions why he would lose someone so dear and precious to him, he comes to the realization that maybe...just maybe his father was by his side all this time to help him deal with the loss. After all, Eric is a product of his own parents. Sure, we're all shaped in some ways by how much time we spend with our families and parents, but we all have a biological link to someone too. And, who knows? If there really is a heaven up there in this world, maybe Eric's father and Eric's son are getting to know each other up there, waiting for Eric himself to join the party.

But, again, I'm only speculating.

And, that's really all I have to say about this song. Sorry it's not as long as my other entries, but sometimes it's nice to not have to sit down and write a whole lot. And, this song is such that I can easily do that.

So, once again, I would like to wish all fathers out there a Happy Father's Day...especially my own dad!

(Granted, he'll likely never see this entry...but the thought was behind it.)

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