My friend Tony and I planned a trip to Hannibal, Missouri in the Spring of 1997 in my blue Plymouth Acclaim. He was living in Urbana, Illinois at the time and I would be picking him up because he didn’t have a car. But I didn’t mind the two and a half hour drive from North Aurora. With my new stereo/pioneer CD player system and a load of discs with a bottle of Mountain Dew plus a pack of smokes, I was ready for a little getaway.
Route 47 is a long and hypnotic road unless bands like Type O Negative, Pink Floyd or Smashing Pumpkins are helping you out until you pull into the campus of University of Illinois. Champaign is a busy little town you cross before reaching the house that Tony lived in with his other college buddies. He grabbed his stuff. We stopped for tacos and then with my roadmap we headed west to visit Mark Twains land, write poetry, drink and go on hikes. Tony always had new music to play for me.
He popped in some poetry and music from “The Beat Generation” box set. With our windows rolled down, Tom Waits “Diamonds on My Windshield” pouring from the speakers, a joint in each of our hands and the sun beating down on us; the drive was a real good one. Our standby discs in my car were Mungo Jerry, CCR and Grateful Dead. I liked messing with the bass, treble and fade quite a bit. We talked a lot in that car. I decided to put the Lost Highway soundtrack in the CD player at some point. I made a wrong turn eventually and ended up at a dead end.
It was as if the disc was telling me that I was getting tossed around or something. Maybe just a coincidence. What was it about this car that found its way back on the right path after I ejected this mesmerizing music? Tony put his feet on the dash but I just let him. He’s tall and wasn’t usually as comfortable as me. But he still liked to ride shotgun anyhow. We stopped at a used record store at some point a long the way. I’m not sure where cuz I felt “lost” in another world. My car knew where he was going so I just let him figure it out. Yes I am personifying my car. So what?
Tony was captivated by Pet Sounds by Beach Boys and proceeded to tell me all about it. I heard him and let it soak inside my brain. But all I wanted to do was get back on the open road and cross the Mississippi River. So we did, while some acoustic Alice In Chains brought us to Hannibal. My car never broke down. He was reliable. Although he never completely avoided injury…..
To be continued……..