Just the other day it occurred to me how much time I have spent in my life behind the wheel of some sort of vehicle, listening to the radio.
Fittingly, this occurred to me while I was behind the wheel of my current vehicle, listening to the radio.
While driving east on Broadway, I estimated I have probably spent an average of two hours a day -- since earning my license in 1971 -- enjoying the radio (or eight-track, cassette or CD) while driving. And if anything, that estimate is probably on the conservative side.
That would mean I've spent more than 30,000 hours, or somewhere between 3 1/2 to 4 years, doing nothing but listening to tunes while making my way down a city street or cruising the interstate.
I think we all have certain songs that immediately pique our interest, each of us for different reasons. Maybe it was a song you heard on your first date or the night you met your future wife. Maybe it reminds you of the day your son graduated from high school or the day your daughter got married.
Some songs make us cry, and for some strange reason we enjoy that. Other songs bring a smile to your face that only you and your conscience know about.
And if you're listening to songs, at some point you know you'll be singing (some of) them -- which brings me to my favorite songs I hope to hear when I'm heading to Wal-Mart, Springfield or back to Ohio to visit family and friends.
I'm pretty sure I'm no different than most people. If a certain song comes on the radio while we're in the car -- alone -- we all think we are Mick Jagger or Bruce Springsteen. Here are three of those songs I love to hear while in the car, where I can hold my own little impromptu concert:
º "Rock and Roll Heaven," the Righteous Brothers: The first time I heard this in 1974 I was hooked. The song deals with rock legends who died well before their time -- Jimi, Janis and Otis to name three. Baby boomers relish in their addiction to oldies, and I think this song always rekindles such great memories of growing up in a time when "rock" music took a foothold on society that it has never relinquished. Every time I hear it, I still get goose bumps when Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield unite via the radio for these famous lines:
If you believe in forever
Then life is just a one-night stand.
And for the record, I do some of my best work with this song. Just ask my wife.
º "You're in My Heart," Rod Stewart: My love of Rod Stewart music is well-documented, and this might be his finest effort of all-time when it comes to simply lyrics. I once sang the following lines to The Little Woman, but I could tell she didn't fully appreciate the sentiment:
You're Celtic, United,
But baby I've decided
You're the best team I've ever seen.
Rod Stewart's love of soccer and music became one in this song. Sports and love brought together in harmony, what more could a guy ask for in a song? I first saw Rod Stewart perform this number on the broadcast of the 1977 Grammys. I have never forgotten those lyrics in the 36 years since.
º "Old Flame," Alabama: This is the ultimate crying-in-your-beer (or Classic Coke) song, and when I'm a bit depressed or feeling sorry for myself, I just pop in my Alabama's Greatest Hits CD and sing to the top of my voice:
There's an old flame burning in your eyes
That tears can't drown and makeup can't disguise.
The thing I like about this song is you don't have to be feeling bad about life or love. It can be for no other reason than Ohio State losing to Michigan or "The Walking Dead" being pre-empted and ruining your Sunday night TV viewing schedule. This is the one song that can make you feel good about feeling bad.
And you will feel best when you hear -- and sing -- it from behind the wheel of your car.