The days that I commute out to the suburbs for work can be trying. The traffic usually isn’t that bad, and by now I’m used to the 45 minutes to an hour that I have to sacrifice each way in order to make a living. It certainly beats the alternative.
The challenge doesn’t come from other drivers, or construction sites, or some guy who’s waiting to turn left as a row of cars backs up behind him. No, the challenge for me is finding something to listen to on the radio. I haven’t invested in satellite radio, and my narrowly defined music genre of choice (classic rock, dating from about 1964 until the second or third Pearl Jam album) has pretty much played itself out, to my ears. I love Sweet Home Alabama as much as the next fortyish guy or girl does, but after hundreds of listens over the years, I have to say that the thrill is gone.
But today was a bit different. I had pulled a couple of selections from my ancient CD rack, which once was worthy of some interest but now seems like a relic by itself. The two CDs I chose at random were both classic Van Halen, and it wasn’t planned that way, but Dave, Eddie, Alex, and Mike drove me to work with Fair Warning and drove me home with Women and Children First. It was a lively commute, that’s for sure.
The best part of this came toward the end of the drive. I was past the songs that everyone knows from the radio (And the Cradle Will Rock, Take your Whiskey Home) or the movies (Everybody Wants Some!), and had come to the final song on the CD, In a Simple Rhyme. After the first few notes, it occurred to me that, as the last song on side 2 of the cassette tape that I owned back in high school, I had never heard the song before. So after three decades of inadvertently avoiding the song, I listened to it for the first time. And it led to a feeling of discovery that trumped anything Won’t Get Fooled Again has to offer, at least at this point in my life.
It’s a Van Halen song, like any other on the CD, but the decision to have it be the final track on the album relegated it to obscurity, at least for me. The title of this post was one of the lyrics that stuck with me, from the bridge part leading into the obligatory Eddie VH solo. It was a nice find, and one that made me wonder how many other songs I’ve missed like this over the years. I know what I’ll be doing with some other of my other CDs, while commuting to work again tomorrow.