There are some good, honest, entertaining and trenchant books and songs out there done by people about their memories of Dad.
On the other hand, there's a lot of crap. Cloyingly sentimental, predictable, tear-jerking crap.
Five of the worst:
5. Tim Russert's oeuvre No one could do a profile of inside-the-Beltway favorite Tim Russert without, it seems, mentioning his blue-collar Buffalo roots and the fact that he always drove his kid to school and went to his sporting events -- Presidents and kings be damned!! Which always was annoying, because there are millions of fathers who do such things every day, but they don't feel the need to draw attention to it as some noble endeavor worthy of praise.
Russert decided this father stuff could go in either generational direction, getting big bucks for his maudlin Big Russ & Me. Realizing there's gold in them thar Daddy hills, he quickly followed up with Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons. He undoubtedly would have milked dads like colleague Tom Brokaw did "the greatest generation" if his life hadn't ended (way too soon).
4. "Daddy's Hands" by Holly Dunn A 1986 hit that still gets play when Father's Day rolls around, Daddy's hands did many things:
1. Folded silently in prayer 2. Held mama tight 3. Held his daughter when she had a nightmare 4. Patted her back for something done right 5. Worked till they bled 6. Sacrificed unselfishly, just to keep us all fed.
Those are some multidimensional hands. We'd say they were the Swiss Army knife of hands, but even a Swiss Army knife doesn't sacrifice unselfishly.
These hands were also able to change their molecular composition, going from "soft and kind when I was cryin'" to "hard as steel when I'd done wrong." That's Wolverine material, there.
You'll be glad to know that, although they weren't always gentle, eventually a realization comes that there was always love in them. Steel-hard love.
3. Jim Nantz's Always by My Side: The Healing Gift of a Father's Love CBS Sports broadcaster Jim Nantz was inspired, it seems, as much by Tim Russert as by his father. Nantz decided to get into the daddy-memoir business with this featherweight and predictable effort, full of reliably saccharine and supposedly inspiring anecdotes about meeting sports giants, who are all good, decent, down-to-earth guys. A parent falling victim to Alzheimer's has been the subject of many a wrenching book; this isn't one of them.
2. Doris Kearns Goodwin's Wait Till Next Year This book combines two subjects most susceptible to sentimental, misty-eyed overwriting: Daddies and the Brooklyn Dodgers. If there's one thing the world needs no more of -- besides terror attacks and pandemics -- it's people writing about the goddamn Brooklyn Dodgers. We get it: It was a simpler, magical time. Bring Daddy into the equation, and things get out of hand real fast.
1. "The Greatest Man I Never Knew," sung by Reba McEntire Reba didn't write this -- Richard Leigh and Layng Martine Jr. did -- but Good Lord, it is the whiniest thing in the world, and her trademark sassy, country-girl-will-survive twang does it no favors.
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Once again, we have a Dad who worked so hard he couldn't spend time with the kids. Reba forgives him, but still ends with a passive-aggressive stab in the back after the dude is dead.
The greatest words I never heard I guess I'll never hear The man I thought could never die S'been dead almost a year He was good at business But there was business left to do He never said he loved me Guess he thought I knew
"Guess he thought I knew." I wanna be told, dammit. Out loud. Constantly.
Geez, Reba. Is this pity party BYOB or are we gonna get something to make it worth our while?