If Only Rockwell Were Here to Paint This

Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb. He writes about what music is circulating through his space every Monday.
As a father of girls, I really have no idea what I am doing most of the time. I suppose I have this idealized Norman Rockwell-like picture of how it should all look in my mind's-eye. Ah, but things seldom happen according to plan when you have kids. My hopes of my girls being diehard Mariners fans or back-country hiking enthusiasts have long passed. No, they do things when THEY are ready for them, and I am slowly getting that this is the way it is. But I get pleasantly surprised all the time these days.

As I write this, my dog Buckley is doing his usual daytime thing--sleeping. This little dude snores SO loudly that it often breaks my concentration. Our house down here in L.A. is an old Spanish-style adobe home with 14-inch thick brick walls. As a result, the wi-fi for our laptops has a limited range, and we all have to sit in one particular room if we want to get online.

Yesterday, I had a very important Skype business conference call with some serious lawyers and financial types in London. I set myself up in our computer room for the pre-specified time for the call. My dog Buckley likes to be where I am, all the time. As my call progressed and the conversation got more detailed and serious, Buckley started to snore louder and louder. I think the sound of my voice makes him feel secure and comfortable. I try to turn him and whatnot to keep him from snoring too loudly, but it seems this only makes him sleep more soundly. At some point in my call, one of my UK colleagues stopped the conversation and asked what all the noise was. "It sounds like there is a big dog snoring." Uh, yeah, sorry. That is MY dog. He is not big at all. He is one foot long . . . but he has the "snore" of a Labrador. I had to excuse myself and pick this dog up and take him to my bedroom so that I could carry on my call unmolested.

So, back to my children and the point of things coming at me at unexpected times. My wife and I took the girls to see Taylor Swift last Friday. Before any of you chastise me for my taste in music or whatever, let me just tell you that I actually completely back my girls being into Taylor Swift. Raising kids in a semi-safe environment can be hard enough in itself--if my kids are into an artist with a sweet and innocent message, well, more power to it.

I have tried to teach my daughters the guitar over the years. It seems like the likely thing, right? I am a musician and my girls should take after their "old dad," right? Wrong! The reality is that they think I am kind of a dork, and that all the things I do are somewhat dorkish. Including playing in a rock band! OK, I get it. So my girls will never start a new Runaways or Girlschool. Fine. I let that dream fade a few years ago, and have accepted the fact that my girls have their own path. But wait . . .

The day after the Taylor Swift concert, my wife asked me if I could show her a few chords on the acoustic guitar. "Yeah. Sure." I muttered that I was a crappy teacher, but that I would do my best. To my surprise, my wife Susan locked right into it, and played the chords I showed her for the rest of the day.

The next morning, my daughter Grace asked me if I could show HER a few chords on the guitar, and if I could teach her a MGMT song. "Uh . . . SURE!" Grace and Susan ended up playing all that day. On both Monday and Tuesday, when Grace got home from school, she went straight to the guitar. Susan has stuck with it too. And last night, Mae, my youngest, came into the living room and asked if she too could learn a few chords . . . "I want to play with my sister," she said plainly. Really sweet stuff!

So there I was, sitting in our living room--where I have the Direct TV MLB package so that I can watch my Mariners when I am down here in L.A. The game is on. I am trying to watch what is happening because the M's are starting to get exciting. I have all three of my girls asking me guitar questions. They are all playing different chords at the same time. Buckley is snoring something fierce. Ken Griffey Jr. is at the plate, and we have a chance to go up by two in the eighth inning. Grace is asking me why I have "such an old guitar," and why don't I have something newer? (That acoustic is an old Sears-made "Buck Owens American" that I treasure and which is somewhat valuable.) I start to get flustered until I suddenly realize that, right here and right now, I have everything that I always wanted. A family that needs me. Kids who are excited about something I can actually help them with. Two dumb dogs who are finally semi-house trained . . . and my baseball team on the TV. If only Norman Rockwell were here to paint this scene right now . . .

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