My wife and I were driving around on a Sunday afternoon discussing music (of course!). We were trying to come up with a playlist that has a good “driving” feel to it. Like when you’re just cruising around the city not speeding but not crawling either. Its as if you own a really cool car and you’re looking to just take an hour or two with the kids, you’re best friend or anyone really and just relax and go for a casual drive experience. This isn’t very easy to describe but I’ll give it a shot. When I was a kid, I used to go for drives on the weekend with my dad. He would take me to the hardware store or to run an errand. I enjoyed rolling down my window and sticking my right arm out and feeling the breeze run through my bones as great music would play through the stereo in his pickup truck. He wasn’t whipping around corners and tearing the town up or driving real slow either. He had a focus but he enjoyed looking around, smoking a cigarette and enjoying his “Led Zeppelin,” “Pink Floyd,” Rolling Stones,” and “Creedance Clearwater Revival” music. He was in a chillaxed state of being.

So nowadays, we live in a more digital world. So its fun to watch some of these car commercials that evoke a new kind of sound while driving. There are plenty of car chase films and ones about roadtrips too. What really kicked this “playlist” into high gear was the soundtrack to the film Drive with Ryan Gosling. The music just sounded good on the way to work or late at night on the way to a restaurant or heading out into the city. Here is a sample of the playlist I am posting below.

So as you might have gathered, some songs have a certain sound that belong on a car stereo. The following list is one my beloved wife and I coined as Ignition Zone. It’s all about that feel of being in an automobile and not having a care in the world. Just you and the road and being transported into another dimension.

Night Call…….Kavinsky Feat. Lovefoxxx
To Go Home……M. Ward
timber……Coldcut and hexstatic
A Real Hero……….College Feat. Electric Youth
The Distance……CAKE
Qué Onda Guero……Beck
Drive…….The Cars
In Motion……….Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
In Limbo………Radiohead
midnight city………M83
Under Your Spell…….Desire
Another World………..The Chemical Brothers
End of Line………..Daft Punk
Electric Feel………MGMT
Tick Of The Clock………..Chromatics


The Blue Car’s Swan Song

Despite all of the fond memories of driving all over the place in my Blue Plymouth Acclaim. Believe me, I experienced a lot. Various passengers. Friends and my movie theater buddies going for wizard cruises or long road trips with british band, Radiohead blaring on the stereo or even doing donuts in parking lots on ice in the winter. Eventually there came a time when things began to take a turn. Reality suddenly woke me up.

On my way to class during my last semester at NIU, I ran into a tree. The roads were icy. The street was a winding one. No sand bags were provided to insure better safety. I was not driving fast. I was listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers, or something. But anyway, I slid off the road and into this guys front yard and plowed into a tree. The guy ran out to make sure I was ok. I asked him how the front of my car looked. He said bluntly, “TERRIBLE!”

The front hood was crushed but not unfixable.I was able to drive it to school and then shamefully come home. I called my dad at work and told him what happened. We took it to a body shop and I believe I had to dig into my savings to pay for that repair. Luckily, I was able to carry on more with my boy blue.

This ended up not being a real good year. I had my Associates Degree, I left the movie theater and spent the summer looking for another stable job. My car was getting tired from all of the moving around. One night my buddy Caesar and I went to the movies. When I came back out to the car and sat down to drive, I noticed that my face plate to the CD player was gone and ten of my CDs were stolen. I was angry. Caesar felt bad for me. He thinks he might have left his door unlocked by mistake. I didn’t have power locks or a clicker so it was my responsibility to remind all of my passengers to lock their doors. That night I forgot.

Ironically, I should have removed the face plate before going into the movie theater so I could have prevented that better as well. The signs were looking gloomy. I went to a junk yard and bought a tape deck to replace what was stolen because without that part, I couldn’t do anything. I was able to save Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here CD from the thievery because it was inside the unit still. My stubbornness to do things myself lead me to a crappy installation job on the tape deck.

After a couple of months, it shorted out due to it not being grounded properly. So I was staring at a blank screen and couldn’t play my music anymore. I was getting frustrated. Sure I found a new job eventually. But again my car was broken into, in the middle of the night. The car was in the driveway at my folks house, where I was living. It was a long rainy night. Perfect opportunity for a thief to have their way. Once again, I forgot to lock my car and the broken tape deck was stolen. I guess they did me a favor.

So I replaced it again with just a basic AM/FM radio player. I started listening to more of talk radio and whatever rock station was on. Boy, wasn’t I spoiled with musical control or what? After another six months with less friends around and less adventures going on. I felt lonely, bored and sad with the Acclaim. It wasn’t his fault. He was tired and feeling violated. Perhaps even neglected by me because I showed less signs of wanting to care for him. Still this was the best car I really remember owning. This was at a peak point in my life. 19 years old going on 23.
From the spring of 1996 through the fall of 1999 this was my ride and I have no regrets.

I am sure there are many many tales I could think of with this car but I had to get this out of my system. I have some more car tales to tell so perhaps I will leave the best for last. I will say that my next story is quite an interesting one for sure. But I’ll get to that another time.

Dedicated to the memory of my Blue Plymouth Acclaim:

And In the words of Pink Floyd, Shine On You Crazy Diamond!



Blue Car Music


The day I bought a used 1992 Blue Plymouth Acclaim brought me such sheer joy for the next three and a half years. My dad and I did a good job picking it out. This was by far my favorite car I ever owned. I experienced the best memories in it. Driving to school felt much better than ever before. I took a lot of road trips and enjoyed many adventures in the Acclaim. Was it flashy? No. Did it have sub woofers in it? Not at all. My car was comfortable, drove really good and had cruise control in it. My best friend, Tony, and I took many scenic drives listening to a lot of music and smoked cigarettes all the time.

After the first few months going to work and to school in it, my dad stopped by the movie theatre one day (where I sold tickets in the box office) and needed to borrow my keys because he said that I needed the alignment fixed. Gullible me, said okay. He came back an hour or so later and handed the keys back to me and said, “we’ll see you later.” After I got off work in the afternoon I was supposed to meet up with the family for my birthday at an Outback restaurant. When I started the engine on and pulled out of the parking lot, I was enjoying “The Division Bell,” by the band Pink Floyd. Yet, I wondered, why was this particular song on the radio. Since I did not have a tape deck or a CD player, I was confused.

I went to adjust the volume and noticed a glowing red digital screen. A detachable face for a CD player was right in front of me. I was like, “huh?” Then I realized as I was almost to the restaurant that my dad had a new stereo installed. New speakers and CD player was now a part of my car. COOL! It was my birthday and I am not sure why I was so foolish not to get it right away. I told him thank you and couldn’t wait to get one of those visors that hold up to 12 CDs so that I can finally play what I want when I want to.

……more to come



Fond “Musical” Memories of My First Car

This is the first posting for this new mini-series…

In 1993, towards the end of my Junior year in High School, I bought my very first car. I was only 16 years old. I worked at an A&W Restaurant flipping burgers and mowed the lawns at the Fire Department. I saved my money and purchased this mighty used car you see here, down below. The car was a red Dodge Omni and had an old “toolbox”, kind of rusty and moldy smell to it. The windshield was cracked already (eventually my dad replaced it), the vinyl seats were hot in the summer and cold in the winter. My car had a tape deck in it. I was starting to collect more cd’s around that time so I had to buy some blank tapes and then record my cd’s onto them so I could listen to the music in the car.

I had to be entertained whenever I took a ride in this “Bloody Gremlin” looking vehicle! I never really drove far. I drove to school and back home. I went to the gas station or the local White Hen Pantry. It was all about looking cool. One time I drove it out of town to show my Grandma and Grandpa. My Grandma said we could go for a ride around the block. I had a tape of Stone Temple Pilots (Alternative Rock Band from the 90’s) playing somewhat loudly. I turned to grandma, as she was buckling her seatbelt. I said, “Oh let me turn that down.” She said, PLEASE!!!,” with somewhat of disgust. But it was still a nice experience with Grandma. Unlike how my own mother and father shrieked in blood curdling terror whenever I drove! AHHHHHH!!!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!!! JUST PULL THE CAR OVER!!!! White knuckles and all! LOL

I listened to bands like R.E.M., Lenny Kravitz and Smashing Pumpkins. One day, I had just about had enough of my tape deck because it was slowly starting to eat my tapes, they would get jammed in the machine or just simply start to distort their sound. Everything would sound all warped and in slow motion. As I was cruising through my hometown listening to the Pumpkins, the tape deck was trying to vomit out my tape and I had decided enough was enough. I ejected the tape and threw it out of the window, over the bridge I was driving across and into the Fox River. Never to be heard again! It was a quick relief! It was easier than trying to rip the tape deck out altogether.

That summer of 1993, I worked at the high school I went to as a painter and a janitor helper. There were about a dozen of us working in various buildings scrubbing floors, cleaning windows, etc. I was excited to listen to some Tool and Manowar in my car as I was leaving for the day to head home and embark on a mini vacation with my sister and parents the next day. But as I pulled out of my spot and began to “peel away!” I backed into a lady’s van and just kept on going! Perhaps the heavy metal blaring through my crappy speakers distracted me and I was oblivious!

After I got home, I was jumping on the trampoline with my sister and just hanging out in the backyard. The phone rings. My mom answers. She is not happy. “WHAT?”….she says “MY SON?”….she asks. I got into verbal trouble but nothing serious. Luckily it was a mere fender bender. Maybe I should mention here that I had obvious and memorable vanity plates that said “NOE 94” on them!!! LOL

These are the musical memories I think of when I talk about the Red Dodge Omni. Please share some of yours in the comments section below. Later!