Sunday, March 9, 2014

No. 88 – Drive

Performer: Cars
Songwriter: Ric Ocasek
Original Release: Heartbeat City
Year: 1984
Definitive Version: Live Aid, 1985.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed how important Live Aid was in my musical history. I was thinking there had to be a dozen songs by a dozen different performers on this here list where the definitive version came from Live Aid. I was wrong. This is song number 11, from the eighth different performer, although I have at least one more to come.

I always liked the ethereal sound of Drive, but the version from Live Aid is almost symphonic, as though the synth was mixed too loud. It works for me, enveloping the listener in a pillow of music.

During my senior year at Wabash, my two Live Aid tapes were regular plays to the point of saturation, but I never got tired of them. That continued after graduation when my summer got off to a somewhat troubling start. In late May 1986, Beth and I were stopping by Dad and Laura’s house for some reason on our way to somewhere else—the details long have been forgotten—when Laura told me that Scott was in the hospital.

Excuse me? Who’s … WHERE?!

Yes, Scott was at Riverside Hospital. He had been in a bike-car crash on his way home. The details were sketchy. Dad was at the hospital.

I freaked out. Scott was my bro, literally. I didn’t know anything except I had to get to the hospital immediately to see him. I drove Beth home and headed to Riverside, which wasn’t far from where she lived. When I got there, I was relieved to find that Scott was OK, relatively speaking. He was alive and alert. His right arm was propped up, and it appeared he had sort of a cast on it. He seemed to be in a fair amount of pain. What happened?

When you hear the words “bike-car crash,” all sorts of images flash through your head, none of them good. The reality was somewhat less traumatic: Scott was on his bike, coming home on Redding Road at dusk. He was looking down for potholes when he lost track of where he was and plowed at about 20 mph into the back of a parked van.

I knew exactly where it happened, because I knew that van pretty well. It always was parked out in front of the owner’s house, and, in fact, it was owned by one of my high-school teachers. Scott knew him, too. Apparently, the crash made a gigantic boom. Dad said when he arrived on the scene, cops and an ambulance were there, and it looked far worse than it was. Thank goodness for that.

The result was Scott suffered a broken right wrist. He was looking down when he felt a presence, looked up to see the van looming in front of him and threw up his right arm to shield himself from the inevitable impact. WHAM! He’d have to have the bone set and then wear a cast for most of the rest of summer.

OK, so Scott was more or less OK and was going to be OK, more or less. He was pretty bummed out, so I took it upon myself to cheer him up. I started cracking jokes, some at Scott’s expense. This was a problem, because any movement made his broken wrist hurt like the dickens.

Well, I remembered his dining on steak in my bedroom when I couldn’t eat anything after I had my wisdom teeth pulled a few years before, so it was time to exact a little payback. I doubled down on the comedy to his dismay.

Yes, Scott was my bro, but he was OK, so I could give him a little grief. That’s how brothers roll.

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