Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Songs that Stuck: Against the Wind

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In an effort to jumpstart the blog a little, I’m starting a feature I had been considering for a while. “Songs that Stuck” will highlight songs embedded in my brain that hold special meaning, often taking me back to a certain moment in time. There are so many that inspire such a rush of memories that I’m hoping that recording and reflecting those feelings will cement their importance.

Here’s the first, and it’s one I’ve mentioned in previous post from long ago: “Against the Wind” by Bob Seger. It was released in 1980 and was popular that summer, which is one of my favorite summers from my youth. And hearing it again generally takes me back to that summer, but a different summer is why it as stuck.

When I was 13 in 1984, we visited a resort near Lake Geneva for the Fourth of July, and being uninterested in water sports and being a sullen 13-year-old, was bored. I only brought one cassette with to listen to on my Walkman, and “Against the Wind,” taped off the radio a couple months earlier, was on contained on it. I bet I listened to the cassette three or four times during our two days there, and I think I was rewinding the song to hear it again a few times as well. For some reason, it was striking a chord with me. Take the opening line:

“Seems like yesterday, but it was long ago …”

By summer 1984, right after grade school had ended, I already had started becoming nostalgic for my life just a few summers earlier. The songs were taking me back, and this being perhaps the only oldie on the tape, sparked my general memory machine for 1980, which was such a fun summer.

But being a moody teen, another line jumped out at me:

“I’m old and now and still running, against the wind”

Somehow, at 13, the realization that the years were going to fly by was settling in. Thirty-one years later, I’ve accepted that reality, but I think in 1984, I was shocked to fully realize it. The piano, the acoustic guitar, Bob’s restrained sadness as he sung, all brought the message home in a surprising way for a kid two months away from high school.

I still love the song, which doesn’t make me sad. Many of Bob Seger’s songs have the same running theme, and maybe that’s why over the years, I’ve come to appreciate his work. I guess when I hear it now, I feel wise. As my newspaper career progressed, another line stood out:

“I’ve got so much more to think about. Deadlines and commitments. What to leave in, what to leave out.”

That lyric stood out working as an editor, faced with deadlines and commitments, making decisions about what to leave in and out. And of course, the running against the wind is a cross country reference – Bob was a runner in high school, so I relate there as well.

I took Ben to see Bob Seger earlier this month. Lori didn’t want to go, but I knew Ben would have a blast. “Against the Wind” was the first encore song, and it sounded great. Ben knew it was my favorite, and he just sat and listened rather than try to dance (which he did for much of the show).  I wonder if he will come to the realization of the song when he’s young like I did or when he’s older. I hope when he does, he feels wise instead of sad.

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