I got the music in me.
— Kiki Dee
There’s an old saying — and a pretty good movie — that we relate to here in our region: A river runs through it.
It hit me over my four days of traveling this week with my older daughter Jordan that, like the Flint River winding its way south through Albany, there is a current that runs through my life and my children’s.
One of my great pleasures during my son Steve’s late-teens and early-20s was finding time to ride around together and listen to music. When elements of our lives became fractious, and we both lacked the language to communicate our deep-seated concerns, we turned to music. It became a big deal for Steve to introduce me to the newer stuff of his day (I clearly remember hearing Outkast’s “Hey Ya” for the first time during one of our sessions and our excited discussion of what a big song it was going to be … we were right), and I took great joy in introducing him to songs of my era that soon became encoded on his talented DNA as he taught himself to play guitar.
We shared a lot … “Sister Contine” by Rusted Root (still a favorite), “Hook” by Blues Traveler, “Stairway to Heaven,” “The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys,” the Beatles, Dr. Dre, Stevie Wonder, the Spin Doctors, Limp Bizkit (admittedly, neither of our finest hours), Korn, Corey Smith, the inherent comedy in the Doobie Brothers’ “I Keep Forgetting” on a memorable road trip to Woodstock ‘99.
There were times when we talked excitedly about the music, times when we just sat and listened, each of us lost in where the music took us.
I flashed back on those days during Jordan’s and my drive along Florida’s Panhandle to Pensacola, on to south Alabama for a stopover in Atmore and then up to Jasper in extreme north Alabama. Thanks to the new technology — that, of the two of us, only she gets — we were able to listen to great driving music on Rock 105 via the internet most of the way and then took turns doing that old familiar “listen to this song” as she again used her new media skills to find each new tune.
I learned about Marcus King, Anderson Paak, why Chance the Rapper is one of the most talented artists of this era, and why Jason Isbel deserves that lyrical genius label that everybody puts on him. I introduced Jordan to Johnny Horton (“The Battle of New Orleans” and “North to Alaska”), Jim Stafford (“Spiders and Snakes,” “Swamp Witch” and “Wildwood Weed”), and Damien Rice’s amazing “Delicate.”
When we arrived in Pensacola, the trip a mere blip along the time-space continuum as we let the music do the driving, we had a late dinner with my sister Cathy at one of Pensacola’s favorite local hangouts — Jerry’s Diner — then went back to Cathy’s house. There, of course, the talk turned to music and my urgent request that you “play that song for her.” Jordan obliged, playing DJ to perfection, and we went on into the night telling the stories that went with the various songs.
I had a few moments’ aggravation when I couldn’t think of Thomas Wynn & the Believers’ “Put It Back,” but when I found it the girls agreed that it was worth my build-up. (Jordan got to hear “Lifeline Woman” on the way home, so I now officially count her among the Believers.) Cathy struggled to think of the matchbox 20 song “that had ‘hell, a girl in a black dress and a complement to the girl,’” but after a keyword search, we discovered it was the very good “Disease.” (Her story about the song was even better.)
People tell me at times they’re amazed at my capacity to remember and appreciate all genres and eras of music. Since my musical talent is at absolutely zero, I tend to think of this love for music as a gift. Thankfully, it’s one that’s been passed along.
Email Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ABH_Fletcher.