Radio Days

I’m on my way to the supermarket, which is about a five minute drive from my parents’ house. In actuality there is very little to discern me from my teenage self. I am running an errand for my mom, I have a list, I am in her car. It’s the kind of hot humid day that I have long associated with eastern Pennsylvanian Augusts and I am listening to the radio.

One of the facts of life when staying with my parents is that I will be pressed into indentured servitude. My mom cooks, cleans, and does laundry, not to mention a zillion other little generosities for her kids, and all she asks is that we run errands for her on an almost unending loop of momentary need and whimsy.

Today is the grocery store and I am quite happy about it. A lot of people have romantic notions of grocery shopping in Europe, we all imagine walking around small shops with a cloth bag buying fresh bread from a baker, ripe tomatoes from a corner fruit stand, and freshly slaughtered meat from a butcher. And there is something to that. However, there is nothing better than an American supermarket. I could spend a week’s salary in the cracker aisle alone. The selection of hams in the deli, the ice cream cakes seducing my eyes in the bakery, and an entire freezer dedicated to french fries is something I look forward to each year.

I feel a great deal of nostalgia when I visit home and this is in part due to circumstance. My parents take care of things and treat me like a king and I eagerly let them do that. I have fewer responsibilities when visiting home in summer. So basically I am a teenager again. The differences are that I get along fabulously with my parents and we see much more eye to eye these days.

Another difference is that I would have done anything to be behind the wheel of a car in my late teens, having spent much of that time asking for errands to run as long as I could drive to run them. Now, about 99% of my life occurs with no cars at all and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But being in a car here is a pleasant return to something that never changes.

When I am running errands my nostalgia is kicked up a notch because of the radio. With several years of input and material I have come to the conclusion that classic rock radio stations have been playing about the same seventy songs for the last thirty years. In the week I have been home and running errands for my mom, I have heard the same songs from Meatloaf, Billy Joel, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones. Not a selection, but the same songs. I Would Do Anything for Love, Paradise by the Dashboard Light, Gimme Shelter and Brown Sugar, The Piano Man and It’s My Life. In a traffic jam, I laid into all nineteen rounds of nanananananana’s in Hey Jude.

I become seriously concerned about the plausibility of the matrix. But listening to classic rock in a car is bringing me back to the past in a way that listening to these songs at home in Prague never does. John Lennon reminds me of a weekend fishing trip with my cousin. Meatloaf reminds me of a friend in high school who used to put his songs on mix tapes. Zeppelin reminds me of summer nights with my friend Eddie. So the minor aggravations of driving are mitigated by the joy of little memories.

It does bring back some points of contention, such as who could possibly think that TNT is a good song? Or why in the f**k did the band Yes think necessary eleven verses of the sentence “I’ve seen all good people turn their heads each day so satisfied I’m on my way.”?

The answer: no f***ing clue, but Paul McCartney might be able to answer it.

  1. #1 by greg galeone on August 27, 2018 - 9:37 pm

    Damo-you’re still one of my favorite writers-no kidding. Great style, great content.

Comments are closed.