My earliest memories begin in the back seat of my father’s 1991 Ford Explorer. My dad kept all his CDs in the pouch on the back of his driver’s seat. He asked me to hand him his Allman Brother’s Band CD, Live at Fillmore East, and switching to song two he looks back at me and says, “Joe, this is the ultimate driving song.” In Memory of Elizabeth Reed has been my dad’s favorite song for driving since he had his first car, an old police car, cleverly named the “Hum of Power.” This is a 13 minute long epic of some of the greatest guitar playing of all time. Some songs can be a favorite but only on certain distance drives. One cannot listen to Elizabeth Reed on a drive across town, but it is perfect on a long drive down Interstate Five. From the time my dad told me about the driving song, I repeatedly asked him to put that song on again. I wasn’t able to pronounce my R’s, therefore my sentences came out, “play best guitahs. Best Guitahs!” Even with a child’s mind, I realized the enhancement of the driving experience this song created. Not many ideals in life remain after 18 years, which is why I believe in the power of music. I believe in the serenity and peace provided by music and driving combined. I believe in the existence of the perfect song for driving.
As age crept into my life, the effect of the driving song never ceased to control my mind set in the car. The day I found my driving song, as my father once did, I was driving from home to a friends house in Santa Rosa. I was alone in the car as I passed through a small town named Glen Ellen approaching the route known only by locals in order to avoid highway 101. I turned left onto Bennet Valley road, a twisty, dangerous road full of 20 mph corners and Rock n’ Roll by Led Zeppelin came on. As the hard rock flowed through my head, I felt shivers run down my spine and an urge to drive recklessly. Without realizing what I was doing, my right foot began to apply more pressure to the pedal, making 25 mph turns become 45 mph turns. My wheels skid around each corner. My driving was scary, but I felt completely at ease, as if the road and I were in symbiosis. As long as the song continued, my manic driving persisted. The urge to drive fast induced by a real rock song played extremely loud could not be defied.
. The pleasure created by the vibration of the eardrum during a song of this stature can be a form of meditation, relieving stress and calming the fire of my frustration. The form of a driving song changes with situations. Led Zeppelin may make it necessary to increase my speed, making driving an enjoyable activity. Anger is lifted as my mind clears and all I thinks about is the road and the beautiful music that is playing.
I was the first of my friends to get a car, making me the official driver for all skateboarding sessions, but also official DJ. When going to skateboard, a fast song that excites and fuels everyone’s emotions was in order. The perfect song would change the entire mood of the day. Once we were out and skateboarding, we all did much better and had much more fun since the song had made all of us excited to skateboard. Similar to this, when driving to highschool on the day of an AP exam or driving to an SAT, the album Premiers Symptomes by Air put my mind at ease, rifling through my brain to clear out useless thoughts and preoccupations, creating the perfect test taking state of mind. The lack of vocals and the instrumental cleanliness of Air’s music created a meditative aura, putting my entire body at ease.
Listening to music is the most powerful method of relaxation in my life, and with the stress that driving or more specifically other drivers on the road can provide, it is necessary to form an equivalence point between these two everyday occurrences. No one can tell someone what song is perfect for driving, it must come from personal experience. Tom Petty once wrote the lyrics, “It was a beautiful day, the sun was out, I had the radio up, I was drivin’… I’m runnin’ down a dream,” another great driving song. Songs and driving can inspire people to chase down their dreams, it can ease the tensions of everyday life, and it can create a serene environment for the driver. Driving with the perfect song is a miracle combination for modern society.
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