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Greatest Hits - Part Two

In my last post ( duh), I reflected upon losing touch with a great many of my favorite songs during the transition from vinyl albums to digital CD’s. One day an on-line friend of mine suggested I look into the plethora vinyl to digital conversion tools out there in the marketplace, so I took his advice. I purchased a turntable that could hook up directly to my PC, downloaded the appropriate software that would handle the job, and during nights and weekends for four months I meticulously turned all of the songs on my vinyl albums into MP3 files. The journey was incredible!

What a treasure trove of nostalgia I unlocked. The album art alone had me reminiscing uncontrollably, swimming in a flood of memories. Listening to the songs and reading the linear notes awakened dormant brain cells in me undisturbed for years. Sights and sounds (I have no sense of smell, so I missed out on that) as well as emotions overwhelmed my conscious mind. I found myself transported. I also felt physically younger during that four month period.

It was more than just hearing the songs themselves, for there’s something magical about listening to recording played on a phonograph. The pops and hisses, just like it was when it caressed your ear drum for the first time, added a quality only detectable to those of us who came through that era. The imperfections were part of the music.

While I was listening my way through 600+ albums, I stumbled across a few songs that held certain significance. I imagined that if my life was a movie and a soundtrack accompanied it, these are a few of the songs that would be on it.

“Another Saturday Night” by Cat Stevens
Man did this song come to epitomize the loneliness of my high school years. The lyrics from the first stanza said it all. I remember numerous nights lying on my the bed in my room, alone, feeling sorry for myself. How can such a depressing song have such an infectious tune?

Another Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody
I’ve got some money ‘cause I just got paid
Now, how I wish I had someone to talk to
I’m in an awful way

“You Ain’t See Nothing Yet” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive
This song represented the flip side of my high school experience and was the first album I ever bought. It was our high school class song and I remember listening to it over and over in a hotel room during our senior weekend at the Moorehead City beach. I also remember thinking that mixing beer and orange juice was a good idea as well. Can you say RALPH!

“Jungleland” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
This was my first realization that there was more to music than just the top 40 radio hits and three chord power ballads. I was first intrigued by the album cover. During the summer between high school graduation and starting school at LSU, I would explore the area around the campus and I found this record store where I ultimately purchased the bulk of my collection. On the wall behind the newly released records was this album cover that was folded out and pinned to the wall. On a pure white background was a black and white picture of a scraggily, unshaven guy wearing a black leather jacket holding onto a cross between a fender telecaster and a fender esquire electric guitar. He was shown leaning against a large black man playing a saxophone. I asked if they could cue up the album so I could listen to it and although I fell in love with and bought the album because of the first song (Born to Run), it was Jungleland that opened my eyes to musical depth. It was constantly playing on my eight-track as I traveled the roads of Louisiana.

“Slow Ride” by Foghat
As much shit as I give my son for wasting money on frivolous things in college, I have to admit that my parents said the same thing when I blew a good portion of my summer payroll on my first stereo during sophomore year. One hundred watts per channel of power (which was a lot back then) and floor speakers that came up to my waist could rattle even the most sturdiest of doors. The first weekend after I purchased it was a beautiful summer day, so we took my speakers and propped them against my dormitory rooms open 7th floor window and blared this song to anybody walking in the quad below. The campus police were not impressed with the song, or my new stereo, but even they couldn’t ruin my mood that day.

“Slow Dancing, Swaying to the Music” by Johnny Rivers
This is a song that to this very day still gives me a sweet, warm, melancholy feeling when I hear it. The act of re-discovering this song was also the inspiration for my first book. It is a song that will be forever intertwined with memories of friendship, the Florida beach, and the first girl I ever loved. Ironically, the book I wrote is a murder mystery. Go figure.

“Thriller” by Michael Jackson
I’ve already written a blog post dedicated specifically to this song and its significance.

“When I Wish Upon A Star” by Jiminy Crickett (Cliff Edwards)
A testament to the fact that wishes do come true and they should be celebrated in their hometown. My wife and I enjoyed our honeymoon at Disneyworld. When I married her I joined myself to my constant companion, my best friend, my critic, my conscience, my coach, my cheerleader, and my lover. And I am all of that for her. We are a partnership in the purest form. We have survived the lean times, the changing environment, growing pains and the hostile takeover bids. It hasn’t always been easy, but what dreams are?

“Long Live Rock” by The WHO
It’s sometime past one o’clock in the morning and I’m breaking the speed limit trying to get to the hospital in Arkansas from a soccer tournament in Oklahoma. My wife’s about to deliver our 3rd child and I’m desperate to get there before it happens. I’m tired from already driving for hours and the radios blasting to keep me awake, but the signal is fading. Luckily I have my own compilation CD and I pop it in. I’m thinking about the birth of my other two children, about the fact that I’m going to be a father again at the age of 43, and wondering if I’ll have the energy to go through diapers and colic again. Then this song starts playing. Hell, if the WHO can play rock & roll well into their 50’s, then I can do this! I played that song over and over a dozen times. I made it back in time as well.

“18 ‘til I Die” by Bryan Adams
Just ask my wife.

“Land of Hopes and Dreams” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
This one will play at my funeral. The lyrics say it all.

This train
Carries saints and sinners
This train
Carries losers and winners
This Train
Carries whores and gamblers
This Train
Carries lost souls
This Train
Dreams will not be thwarted
This Train
Faith will be rewarded
This Train
Hear the steel wheels singin'
This Train
Bells of freedom ringin'
This Train
Carries broken-hearted
This Train
Thieves and sweet souls departed
This Train
Carries fools and kings
This Train
All aboard

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