This has been one of the harder topics I’ve wanted to touch on, mainly since it’s so subjective. Happiness in regard to music is always changing depending on the mood you’re in. Sometimes, an upbeat track can take you out of a funk, and other times, you need something more melancholy to put you in brighter spirits. More so one of my favorite qualities of a song is its ability to bring back memories.

For example, I spent this past New Year’s Eve with my parents and family where we had dinner at a nearby casino restaurant (which wasn’t half bad, surprising right?). On the way back home from dinner, I hadn’t noticed that my phone was connected to the Bluetooth so immediately played the last track I was hearing which happened to be “demons” by Joji. An even bigger surprise was that my dad actually liked the song and told me not to change it.

I know a lot of you readers may have a lot of musical tastes in common with your parents, but just to give you an idea, there’s a 40-year age difference between my father and I. Yeah, now you can see why I might be a little thrown off. It’s funny though, this situation got me to thinking about how some of the memories that mean the most to me are the ones regarding my father and music

From when I was a little awkward teen until now, on Sundays my dad and I would play a few hands of chess, my dad always playing music in the background. Typically, he would put on merengue, salsa, or old standards (We’re Dominican if you couldn’t tell). As I got older, we realized we both had a taste for jazz, so those same Sunday night games would turn into conversations about Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and John Coltrane. He would even through in some stories of how he would leave the house to avoid a fight with my mom and go to the Blue Note to diffuse a situation. I like to think I get my smarts from him.

It changed and gave a different perspective of my dad as a person. To me, growing up, he was always the hard working, stern, traditional father stereotype that usually comes to mind when you’re thinking of TV dads. Maybe like a lighter skinned Uncle Phil with an accent? But small conversations about music lead to stories of experiences he had working in the 5 boroughs during the Reagan Era, when the New York crack epidemic was at its peak. It made more sense as to why he was strict, he had to be just to survive in that time and take care of his family.

But, it also let me know exactly where my artistry comes from. My father has a passion for music and his pickiness is just as that of a hipster living in Williamsburg. Those small blues stories evolved then into stories of my dad’s time in Dominican Republic when he was a guitar player in a band. He gets passionate about not only the music he grew up with in D.R, but the music that changed his perspective when he came to America in the 80s. To this day, every time my pop’s has had a few drinks, he can’t help but play “Hotel California” by The Eagles.

Those are just a handful of experiences I’ve had with my dad, completely related to specific songs that bring me back to those Sunday nights. That’s the thing about music, it’s so easy for a memory to latch on to a certain chord or lyric. If the experience of a song wasn’t enough, being able to remember exact smells, feelings, and conversations you’ve had adds an entirely new dimension to it. I’m sure at least a few of you would still get teary eyed over an ex if you heard “808’s and Heartbreaks” right now.

Albums, tracks, compositions, any of these will be able to evoke emotions within someone, be they good or bad. Better yet, it can help bridge gaps between people, be it from taste in music, or something like the age difference between a father and son. In the end, it’s about the joy you can get from sharing a feeling. Even as small as it may seem, its funny how listening to lo-fi hip hop with my pops on New Year’s Eve couldn’t make me any happier.