Monday, May 1, 2006

Satchel Paige May Have Been Right

As a long time sufferer of a bout of Agoraphobia I now think I'm the premier text example of a brand new affliction, Rearendaphobia.

My fear of leaving my home was at its very worst during the late '80's/early 90's (my so called "Blue Period") when working myself up to drive myself to work was a chore unto itself. Somehow I survived all that and didn't find myself one who stayed safe at home at all times with his 20,000 cats (not yet) and have forced myself to do my share of traveling and getting out over the years.

So I allowed myself to feel some pride over time mostly overcoming one of my gazillion phobias. That was until this past week when I discovered I've come down with another crippling fear. Having been hit from behind twice in the past month, I find myself every time I'm at a stoplight looking in my rearview mirror clenching up whenever I see a vehicle coming up from behind at a speed I think maybe too fast to stop.

This new fear was at its worst on Thursday when I planned to stop after work at Circuit City (my personal boycott of Best Buy continues thank you very much Jennie Haire), to buy myself a satellite radio. In the preceding days I had the pleasure of hearing a sample of Bob Dylan's new XM Satellite radio show via the Internet. The show was quite entertaining, as Dylan featured folk and blues songs revolving around the theme of weather.

Listening to Dylan in this new format I couldn't help but picture the image of a young Bob tuning in to his scratchy portable radio while growing up in Hibbing trying to listen to Hank Williams and Odetta. This image pretty much has been influenced by the same imagery presented in the early scenes of Walk the Line where the young Johnny Cash/Joquin Phoenix sits transfixed by his family's radio trying to tune in the Carter Family's radio show.

Just as I was about to leave my house for Circuit City I decided I didn't want to chance getting rear ended once again. So I got online and ordered the radio from the XM website complete with the additional $11 shipping charges.

Having this new fear as the kids say, bummed me out. I have enough trouble sleeping at night without worrying about the next time someone will crash into me and my vehicle. (If only I could keep moving maybe then no one will hit me). That's when the following day I climbed into my now scarred shiny red Mini-Cooper and plopped the new Susanna Hoffs/Matthew Sweet (Sid and Susie) CD, Under the Covers Vol. 1 into my car's CD player. The music that blasted out of my speakers made me crack a rather broad smile.

Back during my self inflicted and so called "Blue Period" I discovered this obscure LP called Rainy Day that was as sunny as could be despite the name, featuring many L.A. musicians including members of the Bangles, the Dream Syndicate, Three O'Clock, and the Rain Parade. Susanna's cover of Dylan's "I'll Keep It With Mine" and Lou Reed's "I'll Be Your Mirror" was the fuel that kept me going for a month or two.

Under the Covers is kind of a sequel to Rainy Day. Sweet and Hoffs cover a whole bunch of 60's tunes with such love and sun that the music glimmers. Among the many great songs covered are the Beatles' "And Your Bird Can Sing" that swings with a great deal of fun, and the Velvet Underground's "Sunday Morning" that almost matches the magic of the original version.

Hearing the bugged eyed Susanna's lead vocals on Dylan's sad "It's All Over Baby Blue" and backing vocals on Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl" was almost inspiring enough to reinvigorate me to get over my Rearendaphobia and hit the road no matter the costs, no matter the consequences. As the CD closed with a cover of the Bee Gees' "Run to Me" sung with such sweetness and passion, I couldn't help but get over myself if only for a moment or two.

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