Twenty-one years ago, Sarabeth Tucek stopped talking
to her father.
She was 17. She’d had enough of him being aloof and vague, and this was her way of calling his bluff.
“I tried to have a connection with him, but it always felt like he was a distant relative,” she explains.
“And every time I tried, it left me feeling terrible. So one day I just
thought, okay that’s it, I’m not going to see him anymore.
” And with that, she cut him off. “But really,” she confesses, “I was testing him: I wanted to see if he
would miss me if I went quiet. The problem was that while I was testing him, he died.”
She wasn’t invited to his funeral. Mr Tucek’s new wife – her parents separated when she was two – excluded her from everything.
From Sarabeth’s point of view, he “just kinda died,” she reports, still sounding
slightly confused about the specifics, as if describing an
old family pet.
Her father was cremated privately, and no one was told where his ashes were scattered. There was no finality. Afterwards,
Tucek’s step-mum sent her a bin bag containing her father’s old shoes, a broken digital
watch and an empty cologne bottle, and that was that.
“She was pretty sick,” Tucek concludes.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the whole episode stuck with her. “At 17 I couldn’t deal with it – I didn’t have the
psychological resources,” she admits. “I felt derailed, I had enormous guilt because I hadn’t spoken to him, and
my mum wasn’t any help because she couldn’t bear to see me so upset. It needled away at me for twenty years
until finally a friend said that I needed to do something about it – every drunken conversation kept on going
back to the death of my father – so I wrote a song called ‘The Doctor’ and realised that this was something I wanted to do.”
That “something” became ‘Get Well Soon’, Tucek’s second album and an attempt, twenty-one years on, to resolve her feelings about her estranged, deceased father.
A light-hearted knock around it ain’t, but as an exercise in deeply cathartic songwriting, it’s a winner.
“As I arranged and rearranged those songs, I was actually rearranging my feelings bit by bit and finding their place
inside of me, like tidying up the mess in a room,” she explains, talking like the psychiatrist’s daughter that she is.
Uncomfortably candid at times, delicately beautiful at others, Tucek says her album is “about my father, about
how he made me feel, and about the things he did that made me react around other people,” but in reality it’s
not as painfully self-aware or indulgent as that description
might suggest. Yes, it’s an undeniably solemn affair – a
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