He stalks the city limits.
Immediately upon leaving the Chicago-ish area, he pops up on the radio toting six-strings loaded with Americana. He’ll plant himself shotgun and play the hell out of Jack and Diane. As you push 80MPH, he’ll get louder. Diane will repeatedly “debutante” in the back seat of Jackie’s car.
Fearing him is not an excuse to remain homebound. Needing a JCM fix shouldn’t be a factor in your decision to travel. It just is what it is. At first, Jeff didn’t think too much about all the pure 80’s Midwestern rock when he travelled to Carbondale, IL for work. During the 5-hour drive, Jack and Diane occupied the backseat three times. He also passed Pink Houses. Then again on the return trip, John Cougar hitched all the way back to Chicago-ish (Jeff also caught Say you, say me by Lionel Richie but he doesn’t feel ready to talk about that yet).
Jeff thought it was a phase the radio was going through until we headed to Wisconsin Dells for a family getaway. Sure enough, just outside Chicago-ish, John tagged along. On every station. Like he was waiting. Like he knew.
So what’s the point? No point really, I just wanted to write a post about JCM. I think he still wears a mullet. And he’s collaborating with Jeff’s hero: Stephen King. And he’s from Indiana, where 90% of the world’s popcorn comes from. We love popcorn.
Also, this run-in with JCM is a little glimpse of the road ahead (pun intended).
Nothing defines the road trip like old songs and new stations. Whenever Jeff talks about the trip his family took to Disney World when he was 7, a few things always come up: 7 people travelled in a van with only four seats, they drove non-stop coming home to Chicago from Orlando, and his dadbought an 8-track full of fantastically shitty disco tunes just for the trip. And it was that 8-track and all the other hardcore country tunes that provided the soundtrack to one of the defining chapters in Jeff’s young life (if only that 8-track was packed with Johnny Cash’s Greatest Hits Vol 1! Orange Blossom Special happens to be completely ingrained in my memories of heading out on the road with my family.)
I guess there is a point, and here it sort of is: Listen to songs that will never make your personal iTunes library. Eat foods you’ve never cooked or thought to order off a menu. See skylines you’ve never mapped. Smell flowers along trails you’ve never walked. That’s the point (even if that last one might be a touch cliché and cheesy).
The point is to step outside. And maybe enter something extraordinary. Let JCM show you the way. No matter how outside your preference his songs might be, let them play.