My my wife, Kath, and I have our schedule, dutifully returning to downtown Chicago on Sunday afternoons, hoping we’ve left early enough to avoid the heavy traffic that invariably heads downtown and hoping against hope that we can catch the express lanes, but today after smooth sailing through the incessant freight train tracks of Des Plaines, we’re slowed at the River Road toll booth, giving us a chance for a five miles-per-hour ‘up close and personal’ encounter with our fellow travelers, but fortunately we have good air conditioning and a radio to help us pass the time of day as we hum along to some of my favorite songs, when, with little warning, both of us break into song with ‘Taking Care of Business’ by Bachmann Turner Overdrive (BTO), reminding me of my days in summer camp in southwest Ohio, probably the first crank-it-up-real-loud-and-roll-down-the-windows song that I remember,
“You get up every morning From your ‘larm clock’s warning
Take the 8:15 into the city
There’s a whistle up above And people pushin’, people shovin’
And the girls who try to look pretty”
and I feel younger again even as I feel like my grey hair is growing faster than my progress on the Kennedy Expressway, and Kath remembers all the words to the song, adding that she remembers hanging with friends in Evanston when BTO was big, and that our lives were nothing like the song where the band never adheres to a regimented work schedule like we have because they “can love to work at nothing all day” while both Kath and I have managed work and family, but our nostalgia is broken a bit when we hear that we can ‘save big money at Menards’ with their big spring garden sale, and out-of-the-blue I experience the exhilaration of my Camry hitting 25 mph as we near Foster Av and I wonder about hearing loss in the driver next to me whose base is making his car vibrate, but my thought of complaining about it is sidetracked as Simon and Garfunkel begin to sing, reminding me of my tumultuous late teen years, when their Bridge over Troubled Waters was popular, and we again join in, “When you’re weary, feeling small” and I recall that the mood of many of my friends whose emotions vacillated from day to day and sometimes minute to minute, and how we all felt we could save one another as we belted out “if you need a friend, I’m sailing right behind,” loving a song with some depth to it at a time when so many songs were about unrequited love and drug experimentation, and I don’t even care if the folks in the cars next to me think I have a screw loose as I belt out “like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind,” as now, at long last, we creep through the Edens-Kennedy merge at Montrose, but then, commercials seem to have taken over the airwaves until, on the eighth radio button, I run across the Clancy Brothers and I again join in song,
“A gypsy rover came over the hill,
Down through the valley so shady,
He whistled and he sang ’til the green woods rang ,
And he won the heart of a lady”,
and Kath asks how I know an Irish drinking song since I’m of German extract, knowing full well that she and the girl I’d dated before her, both ladies of my dreams (sequentially, not concurrently!) are Irish, and that I’d become acquainted with the Clancy Brothers through trips with each to the ‘Emerald Isle’ which was somewhere downtown, and that over the years I’d been well indoctrinated into being an honorary Chicago Irishman, and as the song concludes, Tommy Makem encourages us to sing the chorus along with the band, and I oblige,
He whistled and he sang ’til the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady, “
while at last I find myself at the Ohio Street exit ramp and progress at moderate pace across Ohio toward our downtown home, continuing to punch buttons and settle on one of my favorite karaoke songs, one with some good advice from Kenny Rogers and The Gambler,
You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em,
know when to fold ‘em,
know when to walk away,
and know when to run.
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done,
As our building’s garageman smiles seeing us belt out along with Kenny, grateful that what should have been a 40-minute trip downtown only took 90 minutes on this warm Sunday afternoon, and grateful that we’ve enjoyed a trip down memory lane as we traversed once again between the suburbs and our home downtown.
And in case you’re wondering:
“Takin’ Care of Business” is a song written by Randy Bachman and first recorded by Canadian rock group Bachman–Turner Overdrive (BTO) for their 1973 album Bachman–Turner Overdrive II.
Bridge over Troubled Water is from an album of the same name, the fifth and final studio album by American duo Simon & Garfunkel, released in January 1970 on Columbia Records.
The Gypsy Rover, is a ballad composed and copyrighted by Dublin songwriter Leo Maguire in the 1950s.
The Gambler is from an album of the same name, the sixth studio album by Kenny Rogers, released by United Artists in 1978
4 thoughts on “A long sentence about a ride down memory lane”
I sang in class and I’m singing again. I just love this.
So much fun hearing this in class at CLL and reading it again here–a joyful ride! Applause to Dave for the writing and Regan for providing the “home” on BackStory Essays!
Long sentence, but I didn’t want it to end! Thanks to your guest blogger Dave today, especially for reminding me of how songs like Bridge Over Troubled Water and You’ve Got A friend helped us all feel “we could save one another”when our “emotions vacillated from day to day and sometimes minute to minute.” I believe that is still true, and the arts — including music and essays/poems like yours today — help me keep the faith. Thank you. ,