November Is Over

Sorry for the extended break but I hope to jump back into blogging full time now that NaNoWriMo is over. FWIW…I kit my 50,000 word goal two days early.

Now it is time to begin the re-writing process but that can take as much time as I need.

Here’s to a good December.

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Wheels Are Turnin’

I was discussing music with some friends online yesterday (which should not surprise anyone who knows me). During one of the discussions I was involved in it dawned on me that the album being talked about tuned thirty years old this year. At first that didn’t phase me too much but as I thought about it I felt a familiar feeling come creeping up on me. I like to call it the “How did I get so old so fast” effect and it usually hits me when I’m thinking about my kids or when I’m talking about music, books, or movies.

The album in question is Wheels Are Turnin’ by REO Speedwagon. The conversation began on Facebook (like many do) when my buddy Paul posted the video for I Do’ Wanna Know (God bless YouTube) and asked me if I had ever seen it. I answered in the affirmative and then linked the videos for One Lonely Night, Live Every Moment, and I Can’t Fight This Feeling (both versions).

During the course of our brief exchange we both agreed that REO Speedwagon probably released better albums during their career, which has now entered its FIFTH DECADE. In fact, we both mentioned their bestselling album Hi Fidelity, which was probably the pinnacle of their success. That album spawned several hits and became the template for the rest of their career. It was agreed that it was the best thing that they ever put out.

However, both of us consider Wheels Are Turnin’ to be our favorite REO album. Why is that? Well, quite honestly, it is because of when it was released and what was going on in our lives at the time. Hi Infidelity came out in 1980 when I was ten years old. It is a very important album to me because it got played a lot when I was sixteen years old.

My first car had a nice 8-track stereo in it (if that is even possible) and the only two albums I owned on 8-track at the time were Van Halen’s first one and Hi Infidelity. Needless to say (but I’m saying it anyway), I have very fond memories of both albums and they continue to pop in my all time favorite albums list.

So, why does Wheels Are Turnin’ trump it? It came out in 1984, as we have already mentioned, so I was still two years away from my daily consumption of Van Halen and Hi Infidelity. I met the girl who would eventually become my first girlfriend when I was in eighth grade. She was a year behind me and was one of my best friend’s girlfriend at the time. Eighth grade, for me, was 1983 to 1984. By the time I was half-way through ninth grade she was my girlfriend. That was the 1984-1985 school year.

We became boyfriend and girlfriend in April of 1985 and the singles from Wheels Are Turnin’ were all over the radio and M-TV. One song in particular, I Can’t Fight This Feeling, became OUR song. It is common knowledge that all teenage lovebirds have GOT to have that one song that defines their relationship, and that was ours. It was especially effective during the “couples only” skates at the local skating rink, where she just happened to work.

I wore out my copy of that album, which I acquired from another friend who had forgotten to send in the Selection Of The Month card from Columbia House Record Club and received the tape unintentionally. His oversight provided me with what would become one of my favorite albums of all time. I honestly don’t know how many copies of it I have purchased over the last thirty years. I imagine that I bought it at least three or four times on cassette before eventually getting it on CD.

I am listening to it right now, as I type this. My CD copy vanished a few years ago during one of the many moves my wife and I have made, so I bought it again, this time as a digital file from iTunes. Even though I have no desire to go back and relive the past, I must confess that hearing these songs does bring up memories that I typically leave in the past.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t long for those days or pine over my long-lost first love, but I do look back on some of those times fondly. It is especially interesting now because I have already watched one son go through those teenage years and I am about to have another do the same thing. I wonder what memories are being made in their lives, what songs are becoming the soundtrack to their lives.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the music I was listening to was shaping me and molding me into the person that I am now. Back then I thought that I was just listening to songs. I had no idea how powerful music was or how big of a role it would play in my life. At fourteen, I never dreamed that I would one day be sitting in my office (in a church no less) on a cool November morning, forty-four years old and almost completely gray, listening to REO Speedwagon.

I didn’t realize that all those “couples only” skates and all those after school marching band practices were getting permanently filed in the “beloved memories” section of my brain. At the time, I didn’t know that each one of these songs was going to eventually be a key, able to unlock and open up things that I normally don’t think about. They were just pop songs and videos…right?

Live Every Moment is playing right now and I swear, it’s almost like I am fourteen again. I wouldn’t call this the greatest song ever written or argue that Kevin Cronin is a genius. I do believe he is a poet thought. He has written something that, for me, has transcended time and space and continues to affect me thirty years later. For five minutes and one second I feel like a kid again. That is something special. That is magical.

It’s just like the lyrics to the song say:
.

Sometime I wish we could take a trip far away
Leave all this trouble and heartache and pain for another day
I will search for that place, until I find it all I can say is
Live every moment, love every day
‘Cause before you know it, your precious time slips away
Live every moment, love every day
‘Cause if you don’t, you might just throw your love away

Indeed.

An Apology Is Due

I knew that I would get busy with writing once November arrived but I didn’t intend to totally neglect this. I do have a review to post but it will probably be tomorrow before I can get it edited and proofread.

My “novel” is coming along nicely. I am on pace to finish at least 50,000 words by the end of the month.

Here is a little something I did after seeing someone on Facebook mention it.

My Favorite Album Of Each Year That I Have Been Alive

1970 – The Beatles – Let It Be
1971 – Electric Light Orchestra – No Answer
1972 – Chicago – V
1973 – Electric Light Orchestra – On The Third Day
1974 – Electric Light Orchestra – Eldorado
1975 – Electric Light Orchestra – Face The Music
1976 – Electric Light Orchestra – A New World Record
1977 – Electric Light Orchestra – Out Of The Blue
1978 – Van Halen – Van Halen
1979 – Electric Light Orchestra – Discovery
1980 – REO Speedwagon – Hi Infidelity
1981 – Electric Light Orchestra – Time
1982 – Petra – More Power To Ya
1983 – Def Leppard – Pyromania
1984 – REO Speedwagon – Wheels Are Turnin’
1985 – Stryper – Soldiers Under Command
1986 – Stryper – To Hell With The Devil
1987 – Rush – Hold Your Fire
1988 – King’s X – Out Of The Silent Planet
1989 – King’s X – Gretchen Goes To Nebraska
1990 – King’s X – Faith Hope Love
1991 – R.E.M. – Out Of Time
1992 – R.E.M. – Automatic For The People
1993 – Crowded House – Together Alone
1994 – King’s X – Dogman
1995 – Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness
1996 – King’s X – Ear Candy
1997 – All Star United – All Star United
1998 – King’s X – Tape Head
1999 – Third Day – Time
2000 – U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind
2001 – P.O.D. – Satellite
2002 – Rush – Vapor Trails
2003 – The Decemberists – Her Majesty The Decemberists
2004 – U2 – How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
2005 – Stryper – Reborn
2006 – Jars Of Clay – Good Monsters
2007 – Rush – Snakes & Arrows
2008 – King’s X – XV
2009 – U2 – No Line On The Horizon
2010 – Crowded House – Intriguer
2011 – Social Distortion – Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes
2012 – Stryper – No More Hell To Pay
2013 – The Winery Dogs – The Winery Dogs
2014 – Michael Sweet – I’m Not Your Suicide