One of the best things about my schlep to work is that, when the weather is nice, I get to rock out for a whole hour. I don’t really do that when the weather is crappy or when it’s cold. I tend to be more subdued in those conditions, but if it’s warm and spring-like and sunny, look out. I’m crankin’ up some Springsteen and we’re gonna car-dance. Pushin’ 75 on the highway with one hand on the wheel. We’re ridin’ out tonight to case the promised land.
You cannot NOT rock out to that song. I’m sorry. You just can’t.
Yesterday was such a day. Except it wasn’t Springsteen, because I’d done that twice and needed to change things up. So I pulled out a mix CD (yes, I listen to CDs… my car doesn’t have an MP3 system). It’s a pretty damned good mix, I don’t mind telling you. From mile three of my trip, my fellow drivers were treated to a Car Star.
I was moving from the opening measure of Annie Lennox’s “Ghost In My Machine.” Head bobbing, I motored onto the beltway. By my first lane change, I was belting out the lyrics. Mouth wide open. Window down. Inhibitions rendered non-existent. The Stones’ “Satisfaction” only served to up the attitude and the volume, and my left leg jangled because I got the moves like Jagger. Until Janis’ “Me and Bobby McGee” brought a more thoughtful and subdued but no less superstar beat. I skipped Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” on the grounds that it’s too depressing, even though it’s a fabulous recording done in 2000, decades and a lifetime after her first version, and offering a tremendous bookend to the original, youthful recording. The 2000 version makes a listener smile because her voice has aged with her mind and her soul and it’s clear now that she really knows what she’s singing.
So, yeah, skipped that. Moved right on to the next jammer, wind in my hair.
That’s a lie. I rolled up the window because the road noise was too loud and turned on the air conditioning instead.
So, fine. Moved right on to the next jammer, air conditioning in my hair.
There is nothing that makes you feel quite as good as a car concert. When you can release your inner rock god or goddess, pour out some energy and use your hour-long commute for a purpose that lifts your spirits before you resign yourself to a windowless basement for the next eight or nine hours, you do yourself a solid that helps to keep you going when you don’t have half enough coworkers to complete a project in any sane way and yet are still required to make all your daily deadlines without exception, excuse or error. It keeps you up when you’d rather bind and gag your constantly yelling, beat-boxing, open-mouthed chip-chomping, singing, swearing coworker and wheel him in his chair to another room and leave him there in the dark. It keeps you positive when a micro-managing temporary supervisor who has the same job as you any other day of the week stands breathing down your neck waiting for your TPS reports.
That was an “Office Space” reference.
I believe you have my stapler…? It’s a Swingline…?
When work is done and it’s super-late at night, the car concert doesn’t happen. Instead I listen to NPR or C-SPAN radio all the way home, learning stuff. Lower the lights, take it down a little bit. Make sweet sweet love to my mind.
I know. My idea of mind-love-making is… um… disappointing.
But today? If the sun is shining and the weather is warm, You had better expect to see me boppin’ down the highway, loud and proud. Mock me if you will. Move along. I got this.
Incidentally, you might have noticed that a good many of the songs on my Car Concert Mix CD are quite old. In fact, they all are. Let me give you the full playlist. Keep in mind I’m a girl:
“Ghost In My Machine” – Annie Lennox
“Satisfaction” – Rolling Stones
“Me and Bobby McGee” – Janis Joplin
“Both Sides Now” – Joni Mitchell
“Passionate Kisses” – Mary Chapin Carpenter
“Have A Little Faith” – John Hiatt
“The World I Know” – Collective Soul
“Einstein On the Beach” – Counting Crows
“Old Love” – Eric Clapton
“Dreams” – The Cranberries
“Breathless” – The Corrs
“Personal” – Fergie
“Natural Woman” – Aretha Franklin
“It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” – REM
“Home” – Michael Buble’
“Hallelujah” – Jeff Buckley
“The Rising” – Bruce Springsteen
Given this list, leave me suggestions for any music newer than, oh, 2005, that you think I’d like. I’m already on the Adele thing. DO NOT give me country.