As I sit here thinking of what to write for this month’s poem, I did what I often do, and I listened to music for inspiration. Sometimes, I like to write parodies to existing lyrics, but mostly, I like to let a song take me some place in my mind that might inspire a poem. When I hear Eddie Rabbitt sing “Drivin’ My Life Away” or “I Love a Rainy Night” I picture the air-powered wipers hissing as they slap across the glass while dad pushes through a stormy night in his old trucks. When I hear Dire Straits sing “Walk of Life” I can imagine our windows down and the center lines on the highway passing, in the reflection of the round convex mirror, to the beat of the music playing. My dad loved good old American music – anything that made him feel good. This was evident by the collection of cassette tapes he kept in a brown vinyl cassette case that sat on the doghouse of his cabover Freightliner. I loved to sift through his collection and get lost in the music – it really does help to pass the time while, ironically, also taking me back in time. I’m submitting this poem two days prior to the one year anniversary of my dad’s death. I guess I just miss him, and the music helps me to feel close to him. I hope you’ll join me as I recall some of My Ol’ Man’s Cassettes.
MY OL’ MAN’S CASSETTES
By Trevor Hardwick
The year is 1986, I’m 9 years old, and thin,
I’m riding with my ol’ man, in his cabover, once again.
We’re rolling on a Midwest run, the sun is blazing hot,
You should see the pictures, my vivid mind has shot.
The dash is shiny black, and the switch extensions chrome,
My mind is on the Great Divide, and I’m forgetting home.
But right here on my left, in a tape case, vinyl brown,
Are a couple dozen tape cassettes, the ol’ man kept around.
Merle Haggard, Bobby Bare, and Kris Kristofferson,
Creedence, Waylon, Johnny Cash, the songs that made us grin.
Willie Nelson, Charley Pride, Rod Stewart and John Prine,
He always loved when Cyndi Lauper, sang Time After Time.
He’d open up Dave Dudley, and he’d pick a truckin’ song,
He’d pick up that old CB mic, and gladly sing along.
Ray Stevens and Ray Charles, George Jones and Miss Wynette,
I loved when I could listen to, my ol’ man’s old cassettes.
Red Steagall and Red Simpson, Red Foley, Red Sovine,
Conway Twitty’s, That’s My Job, and Linda On My Mind.
That Panasonic tape deck, cranked out the sweetest tunes,
Paul Harvey told The Rest of the Story, on weekend afternoons.
How I miss the haunting sound, of good old Rodney Crowell,
Many a Long and Lonesome Highway, mixed with diesel growl.
Many things can trigger, sweet memories of old,
Like rock n’ roll, funk, and soul, and good ol’ country gold.
I miss the feel of riding, with the ol’ man at the wheel,
I Love a Rainy Night, it’s true, the music made it real.
But sometimes I can still go back, I never will forget,
The memories that I find inside, my ol’ man’s old cassettes.