Sunday, August 12, 2012

driving tunes

Yesterday I arrived at the farmers market all jazzed up and I blame rock 'n' roll. Barely 20 miles down the road with 66 to go I'm turning on the radio and cranking up a tune: "Pick Up the Pieces" by the Average White Band. Haven't heard that in a while, make that quite a while. But bells are ringing ringing and I'm trying to recall - Didn't I hear AWB last week? What was that song? Another favorite I hadn't heard in so long ... yes, "Cut the Cake." Into little pieces ...

It's 6:30 a.m. Saturday and I'm lugging cooler, purse, thermos, maybe some extra shoes or a shirt out the door, herding Buster along, thinking through if I've got everything and if the curtains are down or up, windows open or closed, getting in the van. The sun is just about to rise and within a few miles we will be heading in its direction. Mist and fog rest in fields of hay, seep across the road. Windshield wipers sweep away condensation. I blast the heat while suffering the cold rushing in Buster's open window. It is too quiet, too peaceful, for music. I'll drive for miles through silence, letting my mind wander.

For as soon as the radio comes on, that's it. I get all cranked up.

...

I hit the "Seek" button in search of tunes. For most of the drive to Marquette, there are only a handful of stations to choose from - two public radio stations, a station out of Michigan Tech, an oldies station from Eagle River, Wisconsin, a couple of rock stations from up Houghton way, a couple of country stations, including a station playing classic country, and a Christian station. And every Saturday morning I hear pretty much the same thing - two songs from Bruce Springsteen, two or three Rolling Stones' tunes, the Pretenders (one Saturday I arrived at the market in the middle of "My City Was Gone"), at least one or two great forgotten oldies that I haven't heard in 632 years, two or three dance tunes by folks such as Michael Jackson,Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, the Bee Gees, and a great classic country song I've never heard before and will likely never hear again. James Taylor turns up quite often, Carole King once in a while. Twenty miles or so from Marquette a host of other stations will chime in, including one that lately has been playing classics from the 80s. Yesterday it was "The Beat" by The Go-Gos.

I know it is the radio putting me into overdrive on Saturday mornings, because 1) I do not drink coffee and 2) I have only one cup of tea - albeit Irish Breakfast Tea - before leaving home.

Sometimes I scan through every station and come up empty. Sometimes I happen upon a station playing the exact same song I just heard. This happened one morning with that song "Centerfold" by The J. Geils Band. I'm not sure why anyone is still playing this, let alone two radio stations in the middle of nowhere on the same Saturday morning within the same five minutes. And sometimes I actually turn off the radio, but I always turn it back on.


Yesterday, immediately after "Pick Up the Pieces," Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Taking Care of Business." The lonesome road is lined with tall pines and cedar and mist, Buster's still got his head out the window, and the miles stretch ahead. Crank it up.

At Three Lakes, a spot where the fog hangs late and heavy and the road cuts through the still waters of Lake Ruth, "Crystal Blue Persuasion" by Tommy James and the Shondells. The sun's trying to burn through a cloudy mist over the bait shop and looks like an  ephemeral white disc, like the moon, and indeed, you can look straight through it.
Look over yonder
What do you see
The sun is a-risin'
Most definitely
A new day is comin'
People are changin'
Ain't it beautiful
Crystal blue persuasion
More miles, more tunes, it's only rock 'n' roll, but I like it. I arrive at the market a little jazzed up, ready to go.