Bleary-eyed and disoriented, I wake up to the holiest and most dramatic of alarms:
JESUS CHRIST, SUPERSTAR!
The heavens have opened in our Mazda; rock talent Jesus Christ shakes me awake somewhere in Massachusetts. Dad has the window down and is drumming away on the hood of the car. It’s cold outside, the chilling bluster of autumn air and Jesus’ electric vocals insisting I resist the idea of sleep.
The Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack, wide open windows, a barren highway: Dad’s in his element. And, to be honest, so am I. Where else would I want to be than driving with dad?
I shook the dust off of this particular memory this past weekend at a fantastic acapella concert in Bratislava. One of the well thought out arrangements of the fashionable and dynamic choir was a tribute to everyone’s favorite rock opera. I watched this choir perform “The Last Supper” in a modest culture house, sparsely decorated with ornate portraits and velvet curtains, but I found myself back in a car with dad.
Growing up, I quickly grew accustomed to my parents driving habits. Mum has always longed to talk the hours away, while dad has always been about the music. The radio is always turned up, while the window is always open, regardless of the temperature, so that the car hood is fair game for dad’s drum solos. Although it gets a bit chilly if I forget to bring a blanket along, road trips with dad are truly the best, because frankly, the guy’s a genius.
My dad is not a musician, but he thinks like one, so attuned to every melody that he can identify a song by the first one or two notes of the intro. Once the song and the artist have been identified, my dad starts spewing its origin story. He knows what inspired the beat, where it was recorded, who was dating whom in the band at the time. Every song from the ’60s to early ’80s holds a special place in the infinite CD and record collection in his head.
Because of that, some of my most memorable moments with my dad have been spent in the car. We have spotted moose and have examined the tremendous and turbulent years of Fleetwood Mac while waiting for the school bus at an unearthly hour in the morning. We’ve exchanged ghost stories on our way to my grandparents house while the maddening Phil Spector spars for some radio time. Our best conversations have taken place in the car with music blasting and the dregs of highway air whirling throughout.
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to go for a drive with dad and hear more about the most pivotal years of rock music. And though I sometimes reflect on the biggest moments of my life, which my dad was inevitably a part of, I’m more fond of the moments in between I’ve spent in the car with dad at the wheel.
So Dad, I hope you continue to save a spot for me in the car, because I’ve been practicing my car hood drum solo, and you’re the only one I want to play in for.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad!