On Driving and The Soundtrack of my Life

On Driving and The Soundtrack of my Life

I have waxed rhapsodic about my car in the past- it is a 2000 BMW X5.  Steve avoided the first model year glitches when he bought it for himself, and loved the oversized engine and the first generation GPS.  I have driven it for 6 years, and its reliability and durability seduce me.  The Germans, thinking of everything, have allowed for the erection of a net wall behind the passenger cabin.  Therefore, not only is this a driving machine- it is the dog kennel on wheels.

My hope is that this car will still be mine when the children wrestle the keys from my old lady, senile persona….in 25 years or so. I trust my X. Shopping carts do not dent her, snow does not stop her.  We are a team.  I plan to honor the fact that I am 1/2 German and keep my car forever.

I flew into Germany once, and noticed that the cabs were Mercedes.  Our bus driver explained that Mercedes knew many international tourists would be flying into their airports, and they wished to make a good impression to elevate sales.  Good drivers who promise to care for the cars are rewarded with the elite cabs.  The bus driver also said that Germans keep their cars for life, and that is why international markets are so essential.  A machine built in Germany is intended to last a lifetime.  Germans are ticketed for failing to maintain their vehicles.  Damage must be repaired, cosmetic or structural.   Technical deficiencies like burned out headlamps or dead turn signals are also ticketed. The roads are built for speed and efficiency, and cars must measure up. Automobiles are a source of national pride.

I understand that pride.  My X looks as good as the day Steve bought it (with the possible addition of one suspicious bumper dent).  Steve likes his gizmos, but I am a short tripper, and I do not require Bluetooth integration of my entertainment and information systems. The car is pre-XM/Sirius.   I cannot play the Steve Dahlcast via my i phone through the sound system, but I have cobbled an adaptation.  The cassette deck (who knew they would be dinosaurs?) lets me slide in some sort of adaptor that I can use to amplify the dulcet tones of my husband, just in case there is a multiple choice exam on any show.  I think to buy a new car to efficiently play a podcast is overkill.  The best thing is that Steve still likes driving the car, with its crazy fast engine and iron man strength.  (AS a Detroit girl, he knows my next car would have to be a home town product…maybe that weighs into his imprimatur)

This weekend I made a solo trip to New Buffalo for a meeting.  I had heard every archived show, so I scrambled for some in- flight entertainment.  Truth told, I was enjoying the silence, but it was such a pretty morning that I wanted a soundtrack.  That is how I came to tune into the station that calls itself the Soundtrack of Our Lives.  The Drive.  WDRV.  Sister to the MIX.  I listened for an hour, and then the voiceovers started to annoy me.  Soundtrack? Of my life? That might be an overstatement.

It is a fine station.  They play only bonafide hits from the past- no deep cuts, no wandering off the Highway to Heaven.  I know most of the words of the songs.  I can identify every artist.  Every song.  And of course, they keep telling me how serious they are about music.  And life.  My life.  The Drive.  The Soundtrack of my life.

Well, no.

What I came to realize was that if that is my soundtrack I have not lived for a couple of decades.  Or I have lived in a narrow, restricted place. I find comfort in familiarity, but I am unwilling to have such a compressed soundtrack. It reduces me.

The Drive is an Oldies station for a new generation.  It is well executed, but I do not need it to define my life.

No station can be a playlist for our lives- I accept that as a financial reality.  There is effrontery in announcing yourself as such.  That is why we have fickle fingers on the radio.  Most of us have cried to a country tune, or shuffled to Frank Sinatra. We have skittered from bad songs, and loved finding good new ones.   We have watched Neil Diamond go from hip to unhip to rehip.  There are songs we worship to, mourn to or celebrate with.  Songs we associate with love or loss, or a perfect moment.  All of us have conflicting genres in our soundtracks.

What we each have, really, is more of a one-of-a-kind mix tape than a soundtrack.  Feel free to use that, WDRV. Or anyone who dares to go wider….

I know Soundtrack of my Life is just a marketing tool- but I reject this slogan emphatically.  I will compile my soundtrack, thank you all the same.   WDRV,  you just hammer out the hits.  I’ll listen, but if you can only give me the sliver, I will cheat on you.  I need some new music to finish my soundtrack. Or a podcast.  Maybe an occasional football game, baseball game, opera, show tune, jazz, news, NPR.

When given a choice of panoramic view or a microscopic one, most of us will go wide.  The Drive makes the argument that in our listening, we will go narrow.  In these radio days, that is their best commercial option.  But in my car, I need to be more expansive.  In my life, too.


Leave a comment