I remember seeing my first car skid around the corner as my dad drove it home from the dealership; I sat in our blisteringly hot garage and watched as that forest green 1999 Saab convertible came around the corner blaring “Back in Black” by AC/DC out of its rickety stereo system. I was too afraid to drive the car home myself, which admittedly is a terrible omen considering it was about to be mine, but my parents decided that I was old enough to start lugging my own butt to school and back every day, so I’d have to get over this fear quickly.
Dad had been around cars his entire life, he’s essentially a self-taught technician, avid mechanic, and genius of all things engines, so I knew I was in good hands when it came to choosing my first car. Naturally though, this vast vehicular knowledge and the fierce paternal instinct to put me in a safe car made choosing the right one quite the ordeal. I wanted a 1969 Chevelle with tan leather bench seating, and Dad wanted something that wasn’t a death trap that gets four miles to the gallon.
We settled on that dark green convertible Saab, which kept me safe for many years. Unfortunately though, despite the many quirky features of the car that captured my intrigue at the dealership, the stereo system did not. CD’s had just faded out of style, and we were entering the auxiliary cord movement; nearly every friend’s car I stepped into has that seductive cord laid out along the center console waiting for an iPod to be plugged in. The Saab, however, did not have such modern contraptions; after taking a visit to the dealership to look at the car for the first time, my heart sank gazing into the dark slot on the dashboard. Was I seriously about to be left with an empty CD player and not one tolerable CD to my name? To put it lightly, every CD I owned was from elementary school and had the word “Disney” somewhere in the title. We went home that night and I saw my bleak future, a future of music-less drives, and in my sad stupor I went to my dad and told him of my teenage troubles.
I had prepared the speech in my head, the one that was going to convince him to choose a different car and save me the humiliation of driving to school while playing either static AM radio or “Disney Mania 6”. He cut my story short, and ran to the garage with a spark of excitement in his eye. I droopily followed the sounds of rustling boxes coming from the garage to find him proudly holding a box of CDs I had never seen in my life. He set down the box and invited me over to start rummaging, excitedly pulling out the albums of Blondie, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC, Devo, Madonna and many others that I can’t even remember. Despite my skepticism, Dad went to slide the first CD into the massive garage sound system, and by the first song I was completely hooked. “Holy crap, I didn’t know music could be this good?!” I remember shouting over the chorus of Blondie’s “Call me”, I could hear every instrument of the band individually, but layered together they created the absolute coolest and most badass music I had ever heard. Every repetitively churned out pop song I had listened to before seemed like a distant memory, I no longer wanted to cling to the newest chart-topping pop hits, because I had the power of classic rock and what Dad just calls “good music” on my side. This new love of music and of Dad’s carefully curated album collection sparked more excitement over my new car than I could have imagined. I was ready to pull up to school in that quirky convertible, blasting CD’s that were nowhere near the end of their time like I had previously thought. I was ready. When the next week finally caught up to us, and Dad was on his way back from picking up my new car, I remember the instantaneously joy I felt when I heard the music rounding the corner, so loud it nearly raddled the side mirrors off, in the best way of course.
Great enough even for ‘The Great Gabsby’