Life is a highway

I flip through the cardboard box of compact discs and my heart tugs. CDs of every genre — rock, country, jazz, christian and classical — are scattered in the box. One of the first ones that I see is the soundtrack to the movie Cars. I turn the CD over to look at the order of the songs, but I already know them by heart. I look instantly for Rascal Flatts’ version of “Life is a Highway.”

I close my eyes and I’m instantly taken back to the Fall of 2006. We bought the album soon after taking our youngest son, he couldn’t have been more than two or three years old, to see the movie. He loved Lightening McQueen and he spent hours watching and re-watching the VHS copy of the movie, when it came out in stores, and playing with his own toy cars. When we were out at Walmart, Target, who knows where, we ended up buying the CD. Like the movie, we played that CD constantly in the car, on the way to school, church, relaxing in the house, everywhere. 

I open the CD case now and, of course, inside there’s a different disc, U2’s “The Joshua Tree.” I smile to myself. I finally go to look for a specific CD and I can’t find it. I’m sure the Cars CD is in the box somewhere, but I don’t care enough to waste my time searching. We used to play CDs all the time, now we stream our music through a service. I can’t remember the last time we played a CD. We have a Bose CD player somewhere in our house, but I would have a hard time telling you where it’s at. 

The Music Man

I look through the rest of the box. There’s hundreds of discs, an alphabet mix of CD’s from AC/DC, Boston, and Johnny Cash’s live album “At Folsom Prison,” to INXS, English progressive band Yes, and ZZ Top. There’s the Legends of the Fall soundtrack that my wife bought after she fell in love with the movie and the idea of moving to Montana or some other bucolic setting. We haven’t accomplished that goal yet, but there’s still hope, it’s still part of our plan. There’s tons of Chrismas CDs, we bought one or two a year for years: Amy Grant singing about her “Grown-up Christmas Wish” and Kenny Chesney singing “All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan.”

My wife bought her first CD player a few years out of college and followed that up by purchasing James Taylor’s “You’ve got a Friend” and Carly Simon’s “Greatest Hits.” If you know nothing about my wife, those two purchases explain her to “T.” After we had been dating for close to a year, I bought her Bryan Adam’s “Everything I do, I do for you.” 

A lifetime of music memories

I turn over a few more CDs in the box and pull out one of many tributes to Ireland, tracks by Enya and Clannad. I’m once again traveling through time when our daughter was in preschool and her young brother was barely walking. He always had a tough time sleeping, until we put in Clannad’s song “Newgrange.”

“Mommy, mommy,” he would squeal when she came into his room. “I want Jelly Rum, Jelly Rum, Jelly Rum.” It didn’t matter that the song had a different name, he knew what wanted. The “jelly rum” comes from the haunting melody in the song that goes “Rum de rum ‘rud a derimo.” I researched the lyrics once to see what it meant, thinking it had some deeper traditional Celtic meaning, but found it was just vocal improvisation with wordless vocables. In any event, I would turn the CD player back on and sure enough he would be out cold in an instant. If I dared to play anything else, like say traditional nursery rhymes, he would be up all night. You can be damned sure that I played Jelly Rum, so much so, that for a number of years in the 2000s, I was Clannad’s biggest fan.

Turn back the clock

I brush back a tear. I hate to get rid of these old CDs, but their time has come. I offer them to our youngest son, the music collector in the house, but he wants no parts of them. “Dad, if they were LPs, now that would be cool!” I remind him again that I had a few records growing up, but long ago got rid of them. And he once again reminds me that “I’m just not very cool.”

Since my son isn’t helping me out, I’m calling around today to see if Goodwill or some other place will take them. Unfortunately, I’m not expecting much. I hate to see the CDs go to the dump, if for no other reason, because at one point in time, we spent a small fortune acquiring them.

I thumb through a few more and come across an old Bon Jovi album, “Lost Highway.” The album came out in 2007 and we played it on every long road trip that we took: spur of the moment vacation trips to the beach, trips back to my hometown to see my family, and even long trips taking my two oldest children back to college after Thanksgiving or Christmas break.

I think of the album and automatically think of the song,“Everybody’s broken.” It goes like this:

“It’s okay to be a little broken / Everybody’s broken in this life/ It’s okay to feel a little broken / Everybody’s broken / You’re alright / Keep on going / Eyes wide open / Everybody’s broken / Everybody’s broken / Everybody’s broken. 

I close the CD case and instead of putting it back in the box, I put it on my work bench. It can’t hurt to keep just one, right? My wife won’t mind, right?

Yes, I’m going to be sad to lose the CDs, but I remind myself that no one can take our memories, we’ll always have our memories.

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