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Day Trip, by Rich Paschall


While most people would like to go away for vacation, it is not always possible to pack up and catch a flight to England or Ireland, Germany or France, Mexico or Colombia.  In fact, it may not even be possible to take a trip for a few days to another domestic locale by train, bus or automobile.  If your time off of work is mostly given up to obligations around town, you may wish to consider a day trip.  This could be one overnight, or just somewhere close enough to visit during the day and return home by nightfall.

A lot of stairs to the top

When my “old friend” and occasional travel companion came to visit for a week, we each had a list of things to do together, and some with others.  He had dates and I had social and medical obligations to attend.  When he arrived we went for deep dish pizza, of course.  We found a few hours here and there for socializing together.  We went to a baseball game, his first trip to the south side park.  And we went off on a “day trip.”

About two hours southwest of Chicago, along the Illinois River, is Starved Rock State Park.  The canyons and sandstone bluffs mark an area that is not typical of the state. Outside the Chicago area, Illinois is known more for corn and soybean fields than anything else.  When I took a trip through Illinois to St. Louis with another friend, he remarked that there was nothing remarkable about Illinois.  In fact, it was the flattest land he had ever seen.  Obviously, we had not gone to Starved Rock.

Interstate highways will take you most of the way, before narrow scenic roads take you the rest of your journey.  After stopping at the visitor’s center for refreshment, we headed out to find the trail map to decide on our route.  Since one of the sites my companion wished to see was a long walk and we were right at the Starved Rock, we decided to go for the long climb to the top.

Prior to human habitation, the floods of melting glaciers had carved out these canyons and created the beauty that stands today.  By the late 1600’s the French had established a fort atop the large sandstone “Rock” that overlooks the river.  Eventually they left.

Legend has it that in 1769 the Illiniwek Indians or Illini, pursued by two other ethnic groups, took refuge atop this same sandstone butte.  They were under siege by the tribes below and eventually starved to death, hence the name Starved Rock.  The University of Illinois teams are known as the Fighting Illini, although it seems the actual Illini chose not to fight.  The school mascot is Chief Illiniwek, but that is clearly another story for another time.

Path to the top

As we made our long climb to the top of the rock, we found an elderly couple seated on a bench a short way up the path.  They doubted they would make it all the way.  Much of the area was built over with a steep wooden stairway.  This is not sort of climb I would normally do either, but my friend was content to move at my pace, so I persisted.

The view at the top was worth the climb.  High above the Illinois river, you can see up and down the waterway, a major tributary of the Mississippi.  You can also see that there is no retreat.  If the rock is surrounded, there is nowhere to go.  You are too far from the river and too high up to even consider jumping.

Illinois River lock and dam

The Illinois River lock and Dam at Starved Rock is one on eight along the massive Illinois river and is located 231 miles from the Mississippi River.  The Illinois River provides a path from the Great Lakes at Lake Michigan to the Mississippi and down to the Gulf of Mexico.  For city kids from the nation’s third largest city, it is an amazing view.  It is also a historically important site to the State of Illinois where archaeological digs have taught us much about local history.  The view, the canyons, the waterfalls, the hiking trails, the campgrounds, the large state park for picnics and fun have made Starved Rock one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state.

Plum Island

From the top of the rock, you can find a view of Plum Island.  It is reported that in 1997 the bald eagle, symbol of America, began to return to this area after near extinction in this region.  The increase in the eagle population is believed to be a direct result of the banning of DDT, an argument for the EPA (yet another story for another time).  In the years that followed there was a battle over development of the land, but the Illinois Audubon Society purchased it in 2004. Today it is a sanctuary that is closed to the public but in full view of the Rock.  Plum Island is a winter home for the majestic eagle who come to fish the river.  This makes the top of Starved Rock a year round attraction.  It may be a difficult or impossible climb in foul (or fowl) weather, however.

Top of the rock

At just two hours away, and with two drivers in the car, we were able to head out in daylight and return in daylight with no problem (late June).  The small and somewhat historic towns that are near to the Park (Utica, Oglesby. Ottawa) show off quaint, small town America.  In addition, the large Matthiessen State Park is just down the road and was our second stop on this trip.  There we were able to go down into the canyons to view a waterfall, a chief interest of my travel buddy.  If you have to stay home on vacation, you do not have to stay home.

What are you looking at?

Resources: Illinois Waterway, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois_Waterway
Starved Rock State Park, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starved_Rock_State_Park
Illinois Starved Rock State Park, http://www.starvedrockstatepark.org/

HOW HEMINGWAY FELT – RICH PASCHALL

The Final Sentence, by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


In a cold and sterile room, Ernie sat on the end of a table. He waited in brutal silence for someone to enter.  He studied the floor intently through his boredom.  The light-colored tile was clean.  He could find no dust in the corners, although he examined the areas closely.  One small window that could not be opened allowed a little sunlight to fall to the floor.  The counter along the wall was clear.  The cabinets were labeled with the contents.  And a small chair awaited an occupant.

Ernie did not feel well.  He had not felt well for months.  Perhaps it was longer.  He had been somewhat in denial until recently.  His body could no longer ignore what his brain had tried hard to conceal.  The persistent aches and acute pains had become a fact of life.  Now there was this, the reason for his waiting.  His vital signs had been taken, and he was made to sit on the end of a rather hard surface, trying not to think of what was to come.

Suddenly, there was a knock on the door.  The person on the other side announced himself and then came in.  He was a man in his mid 50’s according to Ernie’s way of thinking.  He was as official as official could look.  He sat in the small chair, put a file folder on the counter and began.

“Hello Ernie.  How are you doing today?” the businesslike gentleman asked.  He studied Ernie’s face for his response.

“Hello Dr. North.  I am doing OK, I guess,” Ernie lied in a tone that was not at all convincing.

“Really?” The doctor responded.  He had been treating Ernie’s ailments for over 15 years, so he knew all too well what were the complaints and attitudes that went with Ernie’s comments.

“Well, I guess it is not that good,” Ernie confessed.  “My neck and lower back are almost always in pain.  My right leg and arm sometimes get numb.  If I sit too long, it is hard to get up.”

This admission of his problems was a hard thing for Ernie.  He was only 61 and ardently believed that he should still be leading an active life.  He wanted to do everything he had done in his thirties.  As a bit of an adventurer, he wished to be off to foreign lands in search of new and exciting things to do.  He wished to climb mountains and paddle canoes down rivers.  He wanted to fish and to swim.  He wanted to ride a bike through small towns and villages of Europe.  In other words, he did not want life to change.  His hopes for the future could only be achieved with a time machine, however, and he did not have one of those.

The doctor proceeded to make a quick exam of Ernie.  He focused mainly on his coordination, flexibility and strength.  He was not pleased with the result.  He did not have to say that.  It was written all over his face.  Ernie knew it.  He was a good reader. Doctor North sat back down in the little chair and made notes in his folder.  Then he wrote a prescription and wrote down some phone numbers for Ernie.  He began with a voice that could only be described as sad.

“Ernie, I am sorry to say that your strength and flexibility are not what they used to be.  Some of this should be expected as we age.”

Ernie sat motionless and expressionless as Dr. North went on.

“The MRI you had last week revealed acute cervical spine disease.”

His patient did not react, so the good doctor continued.

“You have degenerative discs.  That is to say your spine is in bad shape.  That is why you have these pains and the occasional numbness.  We will treat that with some prescriptions now.  Here is Prednisone.  And you should see a specialist for this.  These are my recommendations.  This is what we can do in the short-term.”  At that, the doctor handed Ernie some papers.

“And in the long-term, doctor.   What about that?”

Dr. North looked down to avert his eyes.  He thought a moment and spoke without looking up.  “It’s not good.  This is something we can not make very much better.  It will get worse in time. I want you to get all of your treatment options from a specialist.  He maybe able to relieve the pain for a while.”

“I see,” Ernie responded.  “I guess I know how Hemingway felt.”

“Huh?”

“Ernest Hemingway.  I understand the end of his life now.”

The doctor was not exactly sure what Ernie meant.  He was not a student of American classics and their authors.  Ernie was and he just understood something he could not grasp from high school until now.

“Fill the prescriptions and make an appointment with the specialist today,” Dr. North advised.  “Call and let us know when you have an appointment and we will send records to the rehab specialist.  Make an appointment to come back here in two months. And Ernie, I think you should stop driving.  Get someone to take you to these appointments.”

The doctor left the room and Ernie got up slowly.  As he stood his right arm and leg began to tingle.  It was as if he had slept on them and cut off circulation.  He carefully left the exam room and walked to the reception desk.  He handed the doctor’s charges and appointment instructions to the receptionist and began to walk away.  She called after him.

“Oh, Ernie.  The doctor has you down for an appointment in two months.  Would you like to schedule that now?”

Ernie responded with an odd grin and a simple reply, “No, thanks.”

At that, Ernie carefully walked to the door, opened it and went out into the quiet hallway.  He was never heard from again.

THE GRAND EST REGION – RICH PASCHALL

A Visit to Strasbourg by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


Just across the Rhine River from Germany, in the northeast corner of France, lies the capital of the Grand Est (East) Region.  It is the largest metropolitan area in Alsace and home to the European Parliament, the legislative body of the European Union.  Because of its central location in Europe and proximity to Switzerland and Luxembourg, as well as “Allemand” (Germany), it is a major confluence of architecture, culture and cuisine.

Gare de Strasbourg

Whether you arrive by train from Paris or other city or town around France, or come via the Lufthansa bus from Frankfurt, Germany, your first stop will be at Gare de Strasbourg (or Strasbourg railway station).  You can get a nonstop train from Paris, but you may find it easier to fly to Frankfurt and take the bus direct from Frankfurt airport.  Having made this trip many times, my preferred route is via Frankfurt.  While the French have made it easier in recent years with a direct train from Charles De Gaulle airport, rather than having to go into the city to Gare de L’Est, you are likely to find the air fares from USA TO Frankfurt to be cheaper than going to Paris.

Like most European cities, there is no need to rent a car.  Public transportation will get you around town and around the region.  Strasbourg is a great walking city and small enough to reach most of the sites on foot.  Tram and foot power will take you where you want to go.  Of course, a local friend with an automobile is a plus, but not necessary in the city proper.

Rue du Vingt-Deux Novembre

From the train station there are many reasonably priced hotels within a short distance, even if you are toting luggage.  Straight ahead from the station is the Rue du Vingt-Deux Novembre. The picturesque street will take you past shops, restaurants, a large and very old church (of course), as well as hotels.  From this area you will enjoy many lovely trips around town.  If you do not have phone service outside the country, download a city map to your phone or tablet and use it as your guide.  If you are lucky, your hotel or other tourist stop will have a map that is actually printed on paper.  Strange, I know.

Place Kléber

Of course, it you forgot your iPhone or whatever electronic device you can not live without, you can always make your way to the large public square known as Place Kléber to visit the Apple Store.  I guess the techies will know by this stop that city is up to date and not just filled with ancient churches and quaint restaurants.  I will just sit by the fountain as you go in and gaze at all things Apple.

Wine Producers exhibition

The large convention center is home to many events.  We were lucky on one trip to make it to the wine producers convention.  Here the wine makers try to interest stores and restaurants in their latest wines.  Of course we could not stop at all of the many hundred booths to sample all of the products.  Fortunately, my friend was familiar with the wine producers of the region and was able to point me in the direction of the best ones.

If you appreciate a good stroll through town, you will find grand architecture and important historic sites.  There are cozy restaurants and side-walk cafes.  You can walk east and see the Rhine and another country across the way, or amble past the rivers and canals.  Going by on a car or tram means you may miss the beauty of the ancient city.  If you can, take a walk with friends.

A tour with friends

Cathedral selfie

Almost any walk around Strasbourg will bring you to the spectacular Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg. The height of its tower makes it visible from almost anywhere in the city.  It is 466 feet and it was the tallest building in the world from 1647 to 1874.  At present it is the 6th tallest church, and the tallest building surviving since the Middle Ages.  Other structures were on the site previously, but this cathedral was begun in 1015 and celebrated its thousand-year anniversary in 2015.  Much of the first structure burned to the ground in 1176 because of the wooden framework.  Construction began again on the current structure and was not finished until 1439.  This remarkable edifice was 424 years in the making.  It is the pride and joy of this region and a must stop for your travel itinerary of Alsace.

The complex west façade, or front of the building, is decorated with thousands of figures.  Do any of them represent actual people of that era?  The Gothic style of the front of the building is considered a masterpiece.  Some see the design as random, perhaps it is not.  The north tower rises to a great height, but the south tower was never built.  The result is a uniquely shaped building.

When I see these old structures, I truly wonder how they built them without modern construction equipment.  On the other hand, only craftsmen of that era could have built this.  Nothing like it is built in modern times.  During World War II the stained glass windows were removed and stored in a salt mine in Germany.  They were recovered and returned after the war by the American Military.  Seeing these windows today, you have to wonder how they got them in originally, as well as removing them to safeguard them.  The church suffered damage during air raids by British and American military.  It was not until the 1990s that the repairs were complete.

From Rue Mercière

I have seen the structure often and been inside a few times.  There can be lines of tourists outside, and they now employ a level of security that was not there the first time we visited.  If you encounter a line, be patient.  The trip inside is worth the wait.

Source: Strasbourg Cathedral, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strasbourg_Cathedral
Related: Destination: Friendship

HOTTER THAN FIRE – RICH PASCHALL

Hot Summer Dancing, by Rich Paschall


Summer is in full swing, just like your dance moves.  The nights are hot and the days are sweltering.  We can tell by the sweat running down your flushed face that you are not just a Hot Child in the City, but that you have the Dance Fever.  It happens to many so do not be five alarmed.  In The Heat of the Night, you just have to get up and move.  We are not handing you a Hot Line, just our top ten HOT dance tunes.

If our last top ten list of Dance Songs did not get you out of your chair, we think these will do it.  They are hot, really hot.  In fact, they are so hot all the titles tell you so.  Yes, they all have heat (or fire) in the title.  Since you have heat in your shoes, get up and bust a move to these dance tunes. Click on any song title for the song and video, or get the entire playlist at the end.

10.  Hot Blooded, Foreigner.  Sometimes dancing is not enough in the 1978 hit.  “Well, I’m hot-blooded, check it and see / I got a fever of a hundred and three / Come on baby, do you do more than dance?”  The single sold more than a million copies and also appeared on the Double Vision album.

09. Heat Wave, Martha and the Vandellas.  There are many hot versions of this song, especially this one by Linda Ronstadt, but we thought it was best to go with this Classic version by Martha Reeves.  The 1963 release went to number one.  Yes, it was a hot hit.

08. Just Like Fire, Pink.  “Just like fire, burning out the way / If I can light the world up for just one day / Watch this madness, colorful charade / No one can be just like me any way.” And no one can be just like you on the dance floor.  Get up and groove to this 2016 pop hit.

07. Heat of the Moment, Asia.  This was a 1982 hit for the alternative rock group.  “It was the heat of the moment /Telling me what your heart meant /The heat of the moment shone in your eyes.”

06. Hot Fun In The Summertime, Sly and the Family Stone.   We can see that you are starting to pant, so it is time to slow the playlist down for a couple of songs before we have a scorching hot finish.  This 1969 hit added a bit of funk and a bit of soul to the hot tune.

05. Too Hot, Kool and the Gang. The smooth 1979 R&B hit should add some soul to your step.  “Oh it’s too hot, too hot, lady / Gotta run for shelter / Gotta run for shade.”

04. Hot Stuff, Donna Summer.  By 1979 the disco queen was rocking up the tempo with this single from her seventh studio album, Bad Girls.  “How’s ’bout some hot stuff, baby this evenin’ / I need some hot stuff baby tonight.”

03. Hot, Hot, Hot, Buster Poindexter.  This infectious dance tune got an over-the-top performance in 1987 by singer David Johansen as Poindexter.  It will add a bit of calypso to your dancing feet.

02. The Heat Is On, Glenn Frey.  This tune was recorded for the 1984 movie Beverly Hills Cop.  It received a Grammy nomination for Frey and a lot of air play.  The music video was very popular in the early days of MTV.  “The heat is on (flames are burning higher) / The heat is on (baby can’t you feel it) .”

01. Hotter Than Fire, Eric Saade.  The Swedish pop star scored so big with the 2011 dance tune that there were actually two official videos.  The first one featured pictures and graphics, while the second one had Saade dancing through many sets.  You might be cooler than ice, but your dance moves are Hotter Than Fire.

Play the entire hot playlist with Bonus tracks here.
Related: Can’t Stop The Feeling

DESTINATION: FRIENDSHIP

A Trip to Alsace, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


In the eastern part of France, along the Rhine River and the borders of Germany and Switzerland, lies the region known as Alsace.  The colorful history and culture of this area could never be told in a brief post. From ancient time to the present, the land has been part of the Holy Roman Empire, the Frankish Realm, German Empire, Kingdom of France, Nazi Germany, modern-day France and others.  The fusion of cultures and languages makes the area a fascinating trip through history, tradition, architecture and cuisine.  A prominent feature of the region today is the wine vineyards.  A trip down the wine road is a delight.  I have done it often.

Green alternative

Although you can take a flight to Paris and go on to Strasbourg, the largest city of Alsace, by train, the more efficient and cheaper transit may be to fly to Frankfurt/Main, as I did on my most recent journey.  From there you have several choices to reach Strasbourg.  I have taken the Lufthansa bus in the past, but this time my friend recommended Flixbus.

This is a relatively new service connecting many western European cities with a “reliable and green alternative” to other services.  The new buses and quick trip to Strasbourg, along with the significantly cheaper prices compared to the Lufthansa bus, make it the best choice if the timetable fits your schedule.  This time it worked best and I arrived quickly in the center of Strasbourg.

My friend collected me at the bus stop and on we went to the small town of Selestat, which dates back to at least 727 AD.  We have spent much of our time together here in recent years.  It is the center of our adventures.  For me, the best part of the trip is to sit on the small balcony of his apartment, look at the castles on the hills around us and enjoy a local beer or glass of Alsacien white wine.

Selestat, Alsace, France

It is not necessary to go to exotic and expensive places to have a good time.  We watch sports and eat together in my friend’s apartment.  We visit with friends and relatives.  We make some local stops, but the time together discussing American sports is more enjoyable than I could explain.

When my friend was off to work, I took in some of the local sites with his father.  He speaks no English and I know little French.  It does not matter, we have a good time.  At least I am having a good time and I think he is too.  Sometimes I do not understand where we are going until we arrive.  I don’t mind.  It will be fun.  Our first adventure took us to a local distillery museum.  It is new and has interactive displays.  At the end you finish in a gift shop (of course) where we sampled their main product, Eau-de-vie (water of life).  It is really a clear, fruit brandy.  A friend of mine calls it French moonshine.  It will certainly wake you up if you took a morning tour of the museum and gift shop as we did.

The Maison du Distillateur

You’d need help to carry this home.

If a clear brandy does not suit your taste, perhaps the local chocolate museum and shop will.  On our next adventure, all I understood from my friend’s father was chocolate was in our immediate future.  How could I say no?

So off we went to learn about the making of chocolate and to see a demonstration by a craftsmen who melted chocolate and then created leaves and animals and a variety of chocolate charms to the delight of the crowd.

The chocolatier spoke French so I understood little, but watching him create was a joy.

Le Maitre Chocolatier

Old church, small town Alsace

The region is dotted with small towns that are a step back in history.  We have no such places in the US, as these town contain buildings that pre-date America. The culture has evolved over many more centuries and the history of many of these locales tells tales that would delight an historian. In each of the stops, we see a lifestyle unlike our own. I particularly enjoy the ancient churches for what they tell us of the individual towns.

It was love and sacrifice that brought people together to build unique structures before there was any modern technology or construction equipment.

Ribeauville, Alsace, France

I could wander endlessly through the streets of these old towns and villages, stopping in shops to view the local wares.  It is a joy to have a cup of coffee at one stop, a pastry at another and perhaps a wine at another.  The slow pace of exploration is so much more pleasant than the tourist traps of the major cities.

Yes, I enjoyed Paris and would even go again, if I could, but the back streets of the small towns will fill your eyes with delight and warm your soul for reasons you will not fully comprehend.

Sunset in Alsace

Each time the sun sets on our visit in France, the sadness grows a little stronger.  That is because there is one less adventure in our future, one less year to be together.  It is also a time of joy, because there was one more adventure and one more memory to take home.

WHERE WOULD YOU TRAVEL? – RICH PASCHALL

When Your Destination Is Not A Place, Rich Paschall


Where would you go if you could travel anywhere at all?  Where would your sense of adventure lead you?  Would it be around the world or around town?  Perhaps it would have to be domestic.  You could go to St. Louis and see the Gateway Arch and the mighty Mississippi River.  You could go up river to Hannibal, Missouri and see Mark Twain’s home.  From there you could head east to Springfield, Illinois and see Abe Lincoln’s wonderfully preserved home, maintained by the National Park Service.

Gateway arch

You might have one of the great wonders of North America in mind.  So you could head north of Buffalo, New York to Niagara Falls and ride the Maid of the Mist right up to the Falls, or you could climb down the cliff to a point where the water falls between you and the land.  On your way home you can stop in the Anchor Bar, home of Buffalo Chicken Wings.  Yes, that’s the place that started what is now a full-blown food craze.

If this does not suit your taste, perhaps you would run up to the northwest corner of Illinois and stop in Galena, the “town that history forgot.”  You can walk through the mid 1800’s.  You can stop at the spot of a Lincoln-Douglas Debate or visit the home of President U.S. Grant.  At this time of year, you could travel down to the Mississippi River, just west of Galena and, with any luck at all, see the proud American Eagle.  The very site of the bald eagle, waiting to come down from the cliffs to fish, will make the trip worth it.  Although you may have to go further inland to the Great Plains in summer to see them.

If none of these northern stops are what you desire, then perhaps you could fly to Orlando, Florida, take in amusement sites then drive to Tampa, Clearwater, Sarasota, down to Miami and onto the Keys.  A stop in the Everglades means you can see alligators up close, REAL close.  The Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Coast can be a playground.

Seeing a rainbow over Germany from France

Seeing a rainbow over Germany from France

If Europe is your adventure you can fly to Frankfurt and go on to Stuttgart for museums and festivals.  You can visit Strasbourg, France or cross the Rhine into Allemand (Germany).  You can visit the magnificent ancient Notre Dame Cathédrale de Strasbourg or ancient castles of Alsace.  There are vineyards and wine festivals and if you like, you can visit the Statue of Liberty in Colmar, France.  It is in the middle of a busy traffic circle so you have to run fast and dodge the cars if you want to get over to it.

If Germany or France are not on your list, how about London?  It is one of the great international cities.  In 1777, author Samuel Johnson, writer of an early English Dictionary, stated words that are still true, “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”  A few days or even a few weeks are not enough for the sights of London.

Approaching St. Paul’s Cathedral, London

Why do I bring up all these travel ideas?  It is because I am thinking of my recent journey.  Some of my friends may say, “Did you go there again?”  I travelled to the northeast of France.  It is the eighth year in a row my trip ended up there.  In 2010 we made a trip to Stuttgart for an Oktoberfest type celebration, then on to France.  In the  summer of 2013 I went with some friends to Paris, and then on to Strasbourg.  In 2012 I met my friend in Baden-Baden, Germany so we could fly together to London for the Summer Olympics, then we went back to France.  Last year I made it all the way to Selestat, France on my own.  This year my friend met me in Strasbourg and we travelled on from there.  These annual trips were all at different times of year.  Some years my friend came to Chicago as well.

Good wine and good friends, the best destination

For all of these travels we had some specific ideas in mind, but each time we did much of the trip spontaneously.  When I reflect on these journeys, I realize there was no destination.  I could have been going anywhere.  We dreamed and we went, but it didn’t matter where.  The ultimate destination was never a place.  It was a friend.  Yes, we visited new places and familiar locations.  There are always new adventures, that’s for sure, but it doesn’t matter where we go.  We enjoy our trips, large and small, because we are doing them together.  Every stop is fun, every place is exciting, everywhere is new, even if we have been there before.  It is because I am with a great friend.

We have been together on all the adventures I have mentioned above.  Of course, we often set off to see great sites or experience great things, but they were made special by the fact that we shared these adventures.  So I will probably fly to Frankfurt again some day and take the bus on to Strasbourg.   The final destination is friendship, the best destination of all.

WHAT IS YOUR SONG? – RICH PASCHALL

The Soundtrack of Your Life, Rich Paschall


You have probably heard that phrase before. Oldies radio stations love to use it. They want you to think they are playing the soundtrack of our lives. You know what they mean. They want you to think that they are playing the songs you remember from when you were younger.  That could mean a few years ago or a few decades ago, depending on who they are pitching their playlist at. What is the soundtrack of your life?

After you leave your twenties, your soundtrack is probably set with the most often played and most often heard music. We inevitably love the music of our teens and twenties. It is linked to those big moments that never leave our memory banks. They could be high school dances and proms. They could be college dances and parties. They probably include weddings and select family events. It certainly includes your record, tape, and/or CD collections. In future years our soundtracks will all be held in digital form in some cloud that you can download when you feel nostalgic.

It is certain that people from 16 years old to those who saw the beginning of the rock era can tell you the songs that meant the most to them, that held the greatest memories. I feel confident in saying that these songs will come from earlier years. This is not just because it holds true for me, but it does for many of my friends. This is reflected in the crowds that show up to concerts. In recent years I have seen Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, Chicago, Reo Speedwagon as well as Barbara Streisand, Barry Manilow, Tony Bennett and Brian Wilson. These stars continue to fill concert venues across the country with people who may have seen them generations ago. The reason is not a mystery. They wrote and performed our soundtrack, and the people who connect with that music continue to go to see them.

Of course, I go to see current acts. I have also seen One Republic, Maroon 5, Hunter Hayes, Lifehouse, Bruno Mars as well as MAX Scheneider, fallout boy and a few others with more current hits. I like their music, but their songs do not hold the nostalgic connection I feel when I see Paul McCartney, Frankie Valli or Neil Diamond.  When I saw The Monkees, minus the then recently departed Davy Jones, I heard screaming inside the Chicago Theater as I came through the door. It was as if the place was filled with teenagers and I rushed in to see what was the commotion. Mickey Dolenz was just starting Last Train to Clarksville and the AARP set were reacting as if it was 1966 and they were teenagers. Yes, there were younger people in the crowd.  These songs were not on their soundtrack, however, but they were ours.

While leaving the Davy Jones songs to a couple of music videos from their 1960’s television show, The Monkees delighted a crowd with an evening of hits. The band’s recording of a Neal Diamond composition, I’m a Believer, was the last number 1 song of 1966 and the biggest selling song of 1967.

One thing the Rolling Stones do not lack after all these decades is energy. Maroon 5 may want to Move Like Jagger, but only Mick can do that, and he still does.  Here I have taken a few moments from the show at the United Center.  They were true rock stars of a previous era.  They went on an hour late.

The opening of Moves Like Jagger is shaky as everyone jumped to their feet, so of course I had to also.  The venue is The Woodlands.  I should have known everyone in the crowd would try to move like Jagger too.

Without a doubt, the number 1 song on my soundtrack is Beginnings by Chicago. The 1969 song, written by band member Robert Lamm, failed to chart on its first go around. A rerelease in 1971 when the band was red-hot brought success to a song that was featured at dances, proms, graduations and weddings for many years to come. The album version ran 7 minutes and 55 seconds while the “radio version” ran about 3 minutes. In July 2010 I did not have a camera that could zoom in close or record in HD, but it got decent sound so I have this piece of nostalgia:

RJ Paschall music videos here.  See my concert videos and “liked” performers.