A message to Detroit Hamell, three-year-old son of Ed Hamell (aka Hamell on Trial), for whenever he's able to read it.
Detroit, I want to tell you about a CD that your Daddy made when you were about two-and-a-half years old. Do you remember a few years ago when you and Daddy sang the song about the wheels on the bus? The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round.... You’ve probably sung it a thousand times since then. But that time he changed the words, and added a few new lines. Do you remember how they go? The floozy on the bus goes ‘Come here kid, come here kid, come here kid’, then The wino on the bus goes glug glug glug, glug glug glug, glug glug glug, all through the town. Great job! And what a beautiful voice you have.
Daddy recorded the song using his hi-tech, very expensive equipment, which you are never to touch, and put it on a CD for everyone in the whole world to hear! Isn’t that exciting? That CD was finished in the beginning of 2006, and it was named Songs for Parents Who in Enjoy Drugs—but we’ll just call it Songs. In many ways, Songs was made for and about you. What a lucky boy you are.
Your Daddy has been making music for a long time. He started performing solo about 15 years before you were born. Songs is his seventh CD. You’ve probably listened to it many times since he made it, and you may even know all the words. Do you recognize these words from “Inquiring Minds”? Sing along if you do. “You got a kid, I got a kid / Are you gonna tell him the things you did? / Tell him the truth about your sordid youth? And dad, let’s see how truthful you are / You ever high behind the wheel of a car? Man, I thought I was flyin’ a 747 when I sold that car / I think they scraped it for resin”.
You may not understand all that right now, Detroit, but someday you will. And when you are old enough, don’t forget what Daddy said he’ll do when you ask those questions about his past: “I’m gonna lie, I’m gonna lie, I’m gonna lie, I’m gonna lie”. I wouldn’t let him get away with that, but I also wouldn’t worry too much that he sometimes sings about drugs and uses bad words. Your Daddy just has a good sense of humor. He likes to make people laugh. I bet he makes you and Mommy laugh a lot! But he also likes to make people think real hard, like when you’re trying to solve a puzzle.
For the Songs CD, he wrote a tune called “Civil Disobedience” and another called “Values”. Maybe you remember those? They’re both pretty catchy. At the end of “Values”, he sings “Values are tough to teach to a child when the President has gone completely wild”. He sure had a point there. And do you remember the song called “Coulter’s Snatch”? Maybe not. Daddy probably doesn’t let you listen to that one.
But the most important message of all, and this one was just for you, came in a song called “Father’s Advice”. I know Daddy has sung this for you many times, and I hope you know it as well as you do the song about the wheels on the bus. His first lesson was this: “You better laugh, you better laugh, you better laugh until you die”. Then, in the next verse, he sang, “You better love, you better love, you better love until you die”. Don’t forget Daddy’s advice!
For the Songs CD, some of Daddy’s friends played other instruments like drums, bass, music box, keyboard, and kazoo. What fun! I bet you’ve met his friend Ani—Ani DiFranco. She’s a singer and guitar player too, and she has long, brown, braided hair. Remember her? She helped out with background vocals and sound effects and lots of different instruments. But really, all you need to know is that your Daddy is a talented singer and guitarist, a smart writer, and a very funny guy! Songs may not be his best CD, but it’s still a treat for us all to hear.