Dark Side Of The Road

It was during the snow storm two weekends ago I braved the elements and made the drive up to St. Cloud to visit my family. The drive up was nothing; just light snow and freezing rain. The drive back, on the other hand, was frightening enough my hair almost turned white from the white knuckle stress.
As I left St. Cloud that Saturday evening, I popped in one of two newer CDs I had bought from my former place of employment, the Electric Fetus (weird name, I know. The owner no longer recalls what prompted him to name a record store that). The album I decided on, in a mood of weirdness, was the Flaming Lips’ cover of Pink Floyd’s hit album “Dark Side of the Moon.”
As I squinted my eyes, trying in vain to follow the yellow line and keep on the right path, people behind me were getting restless and flashing their brights and honking at me like crazed maniacs. Sure, I was driving a little slow, but these people would pass me driving at speeds close to 80 mph on a frozen and wet road littered with black ice here and there. My father is an insurance agent and he fears the day after the first snow fall because people drive like snow shouldn’t hinder their driving style and end up in ditches.
So, as people were passing me and probably giving me offensive gestures with their hands, I was listening to one of the weirdest covers of an already strange album. My brain was processing the sounds; songs of paranoia, stress and madness with the Flaming Lips’ signature psychedelic sounds and drum blasts offering the album loud spurts of madness. While it’s unique, and they did make Floyd’s classic sound like it was shoved into a blender and the result was similar, yet still interesting,  it wasn’t really the kind of album to listen to in a snow monsoon. It made my eyes play tricks on me with the snow.
After listening to this four times (this is a three and a half hour drive and I can’t pull over when I need to change CDs) I pulled off and popped in my other album, the latest effort by the Hold Steady called “Heaven is Whenever.”
I love the Hold Steady, they have local ties to Minnesota and their concept albums usually take place in Minneapolis. Their sound is similar to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Rolling Stone once hailed the group as America’s best bar band. This album is slightly different from their previous efforts in that there are fewer keyboards and more guitar.
Well, I was tuning into their lyrics of finding hope and their take on Heaven when the wind began roughing up my car like Tony Soprano interrogating an informant. I could hear the wind howling like mad wolves and the car was swerving around like a drunkard on a bike. My teeth began to hurt as I realized I was grinding them with immense pressure. I remember thinking I shouldn’t have turned down the dental plan.
It wasn’t until I hit Windom that, like night and day, the storm was suddenly gone. Having listened to the same CD for a good three times in a row, I decided to spend the final 45 minutes jamming out to my Devo mix disc.
The snow was no longer blinding me, but I was hitting dirty gray snow piles on the road that made me slide now and then. That rotten dirty muck almost killed me once or twice.
As I finally drifted into Worthington, with Devo singing about this beautiful world we live in with their tongue-in-cheek manner, I realized how happy I was to have lived through the drive. Then I realized how sick I was of the two new albums I bought. Well, maybe I should have bought three of them.