Maybe it’s because of Father’s Day. Or maybe it’s this new Band of Horses track I’ve been listening to on constant repeat. Whatever the reason, my mind’s been drifting back to the family I grew up in, how the music we shared flowed through us and ingrained itself in our DNA.
Our Sonos team first crossed paths with Band of Horses founder, Ben Bridwell at SXSW. He was telling us how his love for music had been directly influenced by his dad’s record collection. How the music they shared together had defined their relationship over the years. And how a lot of those same feelings about music and family had been coming back around lately, now that he’s a father himself, raising four daughters and constantly trying to find the balance between his creative work and what matters most.
Ben shared how, in the past, he’d always felt this need to run away from his “real” life to focus his mind creatively. But now, after years spent searching outside himself, he’s finally discovered a new path to inspiration. One that starts with putting down roots, looking deep inside, and channeling all the uncertainty, fear, love and courage of being a husband and father into his songs.
For the first time ever, Ben holed up at home–working in his converted garage-studio after he’d see his girls off to school or tuck them into bed at night. That’s where he wrote this song I’ve been listening to, “Whatever, Wherever”. His way of letting them know that, even when he’s on the road and can’t be around, he’s still there for them. Whatever they need. Wherever they are.
Watching the new video (we at Sonos are honored to have had a hand in helping produce it), I’m struck by just how honest and unrehearsed the whole thing feels. The sweet, laidback vibe of an afternoon at home, so graciously shared by Ben, his dad, band mates, and family. A meal. A song. A moment together. The soft, dreamlike images remind me of my own dad’s Super 8 movies of our family gatherings. It feels intimate. Vulnerable. A little raw. It brings back my own memories of growing up in close-knit clan, and of the music my dad shared with me.
Like any teen, I had my own favorites; songs and artists my folks could never quite wrap their heads around. But looking back, I realize–my greatest musical influence was always my Dad. He helped me understand that, if I ever hoped to make it through this world in one piece, music was going to be crucial. And he showed me how to find the songs I’d need to see me through.
“My greatest musical influence was always my Dad.”
I remember watching as he’d slip each LP from its sleeve, meticulously balancing it by the label. Then he’d oh-so-carefully ease the needle into its groove… and the magic would begin. To this day, I’ve kept most of the records he gave me me, songs he believed I should never be without: Take Five. Wichita Lineman. Mystery Train. Eleanor Rigby. Mama Tried. Ode to Billie Joe… They remain tangible, analog mementos of those perfect moments we spent listening together. Of a time when, by sharing what he loved, he was helping me define my own relationship with music. And with him.
Later, I’d share a lot of those same tunes with my own son. On lovingly curated mixtapes. Then on CDs I’d burn for his road trips. The format kept shifting, but music’s power to get into our blood and connect us was always there. Still is.
These days, we all live miles apart. And sometimes seeing eye to eye gets complicated. But we know, through all life’s bullshit, across any distance, music is a lifeline we can always use to pull ourselves back to common ground.
“He was helping me define my own relationship with music. And with him.”
And that’s what Ben’s new song has me thinking about. How a song we share, out loud, can become a precious family heirloom, part of a musical family tree that grows and extends across the years, with branches that sprout from the roots of home.
I hooked Dad up with his first Sonos a few months back. For Father’s Day, I’ve been pulling together a playlist with a lot of those songs he shared way back when. There’ll be some new tunes as well, music I never would have found were it not for the sounds he put in my blood. You can bet “Whatever, Wherever” will be the lead-off track.