“My Old Man”
Zac Brown Band
Intimate and heartfelt, “My Old Man” is a refreshing showcase of the raw talent that Zac Brown has at his disposal.
The simplistic arrangement allows Brown’s vocals and lyrics to shine, which requires that both be strong enough to carry an entire record. They both are.
Brown’s ode to his late father unfolds organically, with the first verse focusing on his own childhood and the second on his understanding his father more once he reached adulthood. It’s the third verse that elevates the song into greatness, and Brown deftly connects his own experiences as a dad to the impact of his own father on his life, and he reveals that his father is hearing this tribute from heaven, not earth.
Having lived each verse of this in my own way, from the tensions between finding my own identity while living up to my father’s example, to now trying to show a similar combination of loving support and encouraging challenge to my own son, I appreciate Brown’s ability to capture deep and difficult feelings without descending into maudlin sentimentality. I think he gets at an essential truth about losing a parent. In one way, they’re gone, but in another way, they’re more present than they’ve ever been, because they are always in your mind and in your heart.
It’s among my greatest sorrows that my own father never got to meet my son, and I don’t have any doubt that he would love him as much as I do. But Brown understands the great unknown, the great unanswered question, the greatest desire related to losing a parent: “I hope he’s proud of who I am.”
I don’t experience this feeling often in regards to music, but it applies here: I am thankful for this record.