I had to do a bit of driving this weekend, some it through areas with less-than-ideal radio stations to listen to. I won't call out any counties by name--I'm sure they're lovely places off the interstate--but let's just say the sermons were heavier than the metal.
This time, though, I came prepared. With a CD. A Johnny Cash CD. I grew up hearing 'Ring of Fire.' And my older brother made me sit through a few of his ballads, like a 'Boy Named Sue' (which, if you didn't know, was written by Shel Silverstein). I liked everything I'd from him so far and it was time to expand my musical repertoire a little.
Turns out, Johnny Cash is great road trip material. As I drove alone down that dark highway, the trip came alive with ballads about miners, auto workers, murderers and yes, unfortunate men named Sue. It was less like listening to a CD and more like getting tall tales from a friendly passenger trying hard to keep me from falling asleep.
It worked. It's easy to stay awake when you're laughing or cringing or wondering what on Earth is going to happen next. That's the beauty of a good ballad--it's more than just a catchy tune, it tells a story. And as you can imagine, I love stories.
The only problem now, of course, is that I know all the endings. I guess I may just have to go out and find other albums I haven't heard yet...