Let me set the scene: driving in a car with two small children, to Idaho. The drive is not quite four hours long, and I am about to reach the dead zone where XM Radio suddenly quits on you, leaving you to your own devices. Normally this is not a problem. Normally my six-CD-changer is chock full of CD's. But then I realize, as the kids fall asleep to the sound of the Mulan soundtrack, that this is not the case. I have taken all the CD's out of the car so that I could put in new fresh ones for the trip. . . . Only I forgot Step 2, where I actually put in new fresh ones for the trip! I now have a choice between Mulan (again) and a CD of assorted Disney songs my sister made for Boy.
This is not the mix CD that saved my life.
I start frantically searching for another CD abandoned in the car, anything! I check the door pocket, the little CD rack dealie under the armrest . . . nothing! Then I look in the armrest, where I find . . . Sandra Boynton's Rhinoceros Tap! No! It hasn't come to this, has it? I toss Rhinoceros Tap back in the armrest and it makes a funny noise. I take my eyes off the road for a second and look again. What's that? There under some pens? Could it be?
Yes, it's the Hale Family Christmas Mix '08!
For the past two years we have been privileged to receive a mix CD (in lieu of a Christmas card, which seems odd coming from an artist's family) from the Nathan Hale family. Nathan, the illustrator of Rapunzel's Revenge and the author/illustrator of Yellowbelly and Plum Go to School, has unusual and eclectic taste in music, as does his lovely wife, but I enjoyed last year's mix. I had put this one in the car and then forgotten to change it in, apparently. Now, this was a risk. What if it sucked? I didn't have the case, just the CD. But I was desperate. We were in the long, radioless stretch, the children were asleep. Even the dog was asleep, and there were no other adults in the car with me.
I put it in.
The soothing sounds of David Bowie's "Rock'n'Roll" flowed forth from the speakers.
And what's this? The Boomtown Rats? I love them! "Diamond Smiles!" I haven't heard that song in years. And my new favorite song ever, "Roscoe," which contains the line, "When I was a child I wondered what if my name/Were changed to something more productive, like Roscoe," which delights me. A bizarre song called "Still Alive," in which the jilted girl singer does science and eats cake. (You kind of have to hear it.)
There are recession-themed songs like "Chasing Change" and "Nobody Wants You When You're Down and Out," and a song about Spanish vampires. Yes. Spanish vampires. It's called "We're From Barcelona!" by a group called "I'm From Barcelona," and has lines like, "When the night comes, we'll make you one of us." See? Vampires? Viva Espana!
And I don't need to tell you that hearing one of my all-time favorite songs, "More Than This" by Roxy Music made my drive infinitely better.
Good music. It can save your life!
So a special thanks to Nate and Mindy for their annual tradition of sending music, instead of a card. 'Cause really, what does killing trees have to do with Christmas? It should be all about the music.
"They said she did it with grace, they said she did it with style, they said she did all, before she died . . . Oh, I remembered Diamond smiled!"