A Song and a Story: Backseat Songs #AtoZChallenge

For today’s A to Z Challenge, I’m going to write about two “B” songs that I call Backseat Songs, because they bring back very specific memories and feelings of being a kid and riding in the back seat of my father’s car. I suppose kids these days are carted around in large minivans and SUVs, but my father drove a 1972 Chevrolet Nova (don’t worry, I promise that not all of these posts will be about my father).  This car was a sedan, but it felt inordinately massive, especially if you’re a child in the back seat  and feel like you’re in a whole separate world from the front seat.  The one thing that would bridge the divide was music played over the stereo.

So with no further ado, the first song is 1977 soft rock hit by the California band Player:

Baby Come Back

There are two things I remember about this song.  One is that as a child interpreted it very literally and thought it was a song about an infant that ran away.  Second, I remember it playing as we drove home from a visit to my grandparents’ apartment in Brooklyn.  The smooth guitar and harmonies of “Baby Come Back” combined with the rhythmic bumps of the seams on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway lulled me to sleep on that spacious back seat.  Have you ever noticed that music sounds much better just as you’re drifting off? Player’s tune entered into my brain during that liminal period between wakefulness and unconsciousness and has resided there ever since.

The next song was released a few months later in early 1978, and would be the biggest solo hit for Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty:

Baker Street

This song sounds unlike any other song from its time, partially because it contains dynamite saxophone solos between the verses.  Rafferty wrote the song about his experiences staying on the famous street in London, so of course it reminds me of … stock car racing.  I assure you that I grew up in suburban Connecticut, but yes, my dad liked country music and took us to auto races at the Danbury Racearena.

My sister and I have a disagreement about how many times we went to the Danbury Racearena, as I remember going several times, and she says we went just once.  She’s older so she may be right, but that one time must’ve made in impression because I not only remember the roar and smoke of the race cars, I remember the long trip it took us to get there.  We traveled on windy, back roads through the woods of Connecticut, and even briefly crossed the state border into New York before cutting back into the Constitution State.  And somewhere along the way “Baker Street” played on the radio and so I forever associate those soaring saxophone solos with going to the racetrack.

2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – A Song and a Story

A: Always on My Mind

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.

A Song and a Story: “Always on My Mind” #AtoZChallenge

Let’s kick off the 2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge with a song by the legendary Willie Nelson:

Always on My Mind

This song always reminds me of my father.  In his final years, when his health deteriorated due to Multiple Sclerosis, my father took a liking to listening to country music.  Now, back in the early 1980s, a man who grew up in Brooklyn and then settled in the Connecticut suburbs typically didn’t listen to country music, and my dad had been a rock and roll kind of guy up to that point.  But perhaps he was just ahead of the trend of the late 80s and 90s when country boomed well outside of its core constituencies in the South and the West, and even Manhattan had country line dancing bars.

Now, as a kid, I wasn’t too interested in country, but even I loved hearing the warm voice of Willie Nelson as he sang the melancholy title track of his 1982 album Always on My Mind.  Years later, I heard some of the cool kids in high school talking about a new song by the Pet Shop Boys called “Always on My Mind.”  I snootily informed them that the Pet Shop Boys did NOT write that song, it was Willie Nelson.  The joke was on me, because even more years later I learned that “Always on My Mind” was a hit song for Elvis Presley a decade before Willie Nelson recorded his version. And the song didn’t even start with the King! It was written by Johnny Christopher, Mark James, and Wayne Carson and first recorded by B.J. Thomas in 1969.  Brend Lee got the song to chart before Elvis did, and there are probably dozens of versions out there.

Compare and contrast:

Elvis Presley, or…

The Pet Shop Boys?

Nevertheless, it’s the Willie Nelson version I always come back to.  His voice and instrumentation always make the song sound so sweet, albeit sad.  Pull back the layers though, and it this song of apology may be a bit deceptive. Is the narrator of this song really trustworthy or is he just a jerk who’s going to disapoint us again?  Could be both.  And suitably, it’s appropriate that I associate this song with my father who often disappointed his family, and I’m sure he felt bad about it, but we never quite came to reconciliation.  He died in 1991, but all these years later when I hear Willie’s plaintive voice, it’s my father I think of.

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.