Slices of Life:The Songs In My CD Holder While Traveling Through The Inland Empire

“The whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking, 'Is there a meaning to music?' My answer would be, 'Yes.' And 'Can you state in so many words what the meaning is?' My answer to that would be, 'No.'
Aaron Copland, US composer (1900-1990)
( the pictures are a landscape on Highway 395 by Chewelah, Lake Roosevelt by Kettle Falls, and Highway 395 by Loon Lake.)
Reflecting back on decades of song titles that have enriched my life, it is always a difficult task to pull out CDs to fill my holder when preparing for a trip. I agree with Copland that there is meaning to music. As we listen to a song, it takes us back instantly to another time, another place, a slice of life that is unforgettable. Can I state what the meaning is? Perhaps not. Does it matter? No. For me it is that strong feeling, whether past or present the music evokes. The feeling connects with slices of my life, creating a music tapestry. I always try to select an eclectic collection of CDs to match my many moods. Instead of the new question “What is on your I Pod playlist”, for me it is “What is in your CD holder for the trip?” That collection represents those slices of my life.

How many times have you heard a song and after playing it once, hit the number on the player so you could hear it over and over again while cruising down the highway? “Bennie and the Jets” is the quintessential selection. Traveling down a straight stretch of highway, this is the song that can re energize me. There was a spring in college that I had a roommate with an amazing collection of albums. We listened to Tower of Power, Earth Wind and Fire, and Elton John. “Bennie and the Jets” was the song we all grabbed the perfume bottle microphones and belted out- especially the part Jetssssssssss, spreading out that “sss” sound. Other songs I hit the number repeatedly for are “Killing Me Softly” by Roberta Flack, “ Say a Little Prayer” by Dionne Warwick, “ Coming Around Again” by Carly Simon, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Michael McDonald, “Secret O’ Life” by James Taylor, “Constant Craving” by k.d. lang, and “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News.

Movie soundtracks are another group of CDs that often make it in the road trip collection. One example is Out of Africa. Watching Meryl Streep and Robert Redford fly over Kenya, grasping hands as they took in the beauty of the landscape, the theater was filled with the rich music of John Barry’s soundtrack. No words were said. The music carried the scene. On a road trip I often want those hauntingly beautiful melodies and few words. Out of Africa fits the bill. Another is A River Runs Through It. As “Haunted by Waters- A River Runs Through It” brings that CD to a close Mark Isham’s melodies have taken you to rivers, small town churches, and family… other slices of life. Other favorite soundtracks for the road are When Harry Met Sally, On Golden Pond, and Philadelphia. Each has a unique collection of songs matching moods of this driver.

The one artist that is always in my CD holder is Carole King. She is the artist with a song for every mood and every road. “ Jazzman”, “It’s Too Late”, and “Sweet Seasons” help me travel to a simpler time. “You’ve Got a Friend” illustrates how great words and music can be passed on to another artist like James Taylor to create another winning hit. Whether it is her original Tapestry, her newest Living Room Tour, or her Greatest Hits, Carole’s music has been a slice of my life since I was introduced to the first songs on Tapestry. That hippie, guitar, folk-like music seemed to reach out to me in a unique way.

Could I go on? Yes. Numerous songs have strong feeling attached to them. I haven’t even touched standards, classical music, the Beatles, Christmas music, gospel, or jazz. I get overwhelmed just thinking about getting an I Pod and trying to pick tunes for my playlist! For right now I’ll continue to be traditionalist and stick to my visor holder and the CDs of my life. While writing this post I just turned on the music channel and heard three more songs I could add- “ Betcha By Golly Wow”, “Hey Jude”, and “I Shot the Sheriff. "
.... Gotta go. The Carpenters are singing “Close to You” and I need to find a perfume bottle microphone and do a little singing to my dogs Annie and Shelby.


  1. We could soooo roadtrip together! I love Dionne Warwick. But The Otis hates it when I sing that song. Absolutely hates it.

  2. After a Monday with tired, cranky students what did I put in the CD player on the way home? You guessed it... "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?"!

  3. "As we listen to a song, it takes us back instantly to another time, another place, a slice of life that is unforgettable. Can I state what the meaning is? Perhaps not. Does it matter? No. For me it is that strong feeling, whether past or present the music evokes."

    I was nodding my head while I read this. I LOVE music, all kinds, and so many songs tie me instantly to a memory, or a feeling, or a season in my life.

    VH1 recently aired the 100 Greatest Songs of the Eighties and from the first note of "Livin' On a Prayer", I swore I could smell Bold Hold hairspray and taste the metal of my braces again. Instant transportation to my teen years.

    Great post!

  4. I agree about the instant transportation to teen years. Another of mine is Summer Breeze by Seals and Croft. Thanks for the kind words.


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