© 2021 Cincinnati Public Radio
Connecting You to a World of Ideas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

David Behle: The Message

It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons. ~Johann Schiller

What does it mean to be a dad?

With Father's Day approaching, as a dad myself, I know that it is a title of honor that is not granted by the simple biological act of reproducing one's genetic code. I also know that it is a laurel that requires great humility to wear. Not only are all father's judged according to their offspring, but by a standard set by every father before them. To paraphrase from a bumper-sticker: most any male can be a father, but it takes special character to be a dad. All dads want to be great, but only truly great dads acknowledge that they often fail more than they succeed. Dad-hood requires many choices. Dad-hood itself can be a choice. 

Dave Behle made such a choice when he and his wife Debbie decided to adopt a daughter, Caitlin, from South Korea and a son, Christopher, from the Marshall Islands. 

In 1998, as an expression of love to his children, Dave Behle wrote and recorded a beautiful song entitled "The Message." The tuneful melody is born in graceful simplicity, performed on an acoustic guitar with sparse overdubs and minimal layering. The poetry is equally straightforward, austere, and delivers a clear and unpretentious sentiment. 

The Message by Dave Behle:

Far across the water, Ten thousand miles away Love became a daughter That had no place to stay. And so she sent a message, Halfway around the world. Will you be my mother, And I your little girl? We could live together Sharing all our days. I wait for your answer For what you have to say. Fly across the water, And you can stay with me. Come and meet your father, We’ll be a family. Like a ray of sunshine, You light up my world. Don’t know what I’d do Without my little girl. Once there was an island In the middle of the sea. On it lived a family With too many mouths to feed. On the wind there came a message, I’m looking for someone. Will you be my mother, And I your little son? We could live together Sharing all our days. I wait for your answer For what you got to say We’ve traveled over mountains, We’ve flown across the sea. To a coral island, Where a tiny baby sleeps. Like a ray of sunshine, You fill me with joy. Don’t know what I’d do without my little boy.

15 years later, his daughter Caitlin reversed the roles and returned the favor. Last year for Father's Day, she collaborated with a team of local artists and musicians to honor her father by having them rearrange and remake "The Message." This musical tribute features Aaron Collins [SHADOWRAPTR, Comprador] on vocals; Evan Roberts [Pop Goes the Evil] on bass; and three members of The Happy Maladies: Eddy Kwon on violin, Stephen Patota on mandolin and Ben Thomas on guitar and banjo.  The song was recorded in May, 2013 at the Rohs Street Cafe Sanctuary and was engineered by Zac Schmidt and Jason Nix. Lindsay Nehls provided the album cover artwork.  

With such a profoundly talented collection of individuals involved in the project, it is no surprise that the final result is spectacular. Like the original, the piece starts off simply, with Patota on mandolin and Collins' resonant voice taking the forefront. The bass, guitar and banjo bring a deeper, richer soul to the mix but for me,  once Kwon introduces his violin...the tears just come, resistance is futile.

Being a father can be easy, but being a dad is tough.  It can be a frustrating roller coaster over which you sometimes have no control.  But, if you manage to do most things right most of the time,  your kids, when they grow up, will find their own amazing and wonderful ways to let you know how much they love and appreciate you.

Dave Behle - I've never met you, but I know your daughter. I've heard her talk about you. I see the look in her eyes when she talks about the family you and your wife gave her. You're a good dad.

Happy dad's day.

2013 Remake:

The original: