(Above: Celebrating the first night in the new home with what’s available.)
You’ll notice that creative output of this blog has tapered off in the last several weeks. That’s because my wife and I have been in the process of packing up everything we own (and some things we don’t but are caretakers for) and moving to Kalamazoo, Michigan. We had been in Grand Rapids for ten years and ten months, and when Mrs. O accepted a new job at the end of summer, we decided it was time to start a new adventure.
Remind me that adventures are a little harder once you get older.
What I mean by that is, essentially, roots are harder to dig up. In the early days of my radio career/end of college, moving was much more common. In 1989 I moved four times, in 1990 another four times, and so on. There was a lot less stuff to pick up and move, and I was in much better shape to be able to do it myself. (That’s one of the perks of moving up the ladder: as a young DJ, you’re lucky to get the new station to pay for a rental truck. Once you get into management, they provide movers.) Given the fact that if I stand on a ladder I can see 50 (note: it’s still in the distance), the process is a lot more exhausting.
Changing cities means music – at least it used to. When I did my big move to Davenport, Iowa in the fall of 1989 I made a mixtape for the rides back and forth to look for a place to live. (Of course, I forgot about it on moving day, and didn’t give it a listen.) The tape still exists – as do most cassettes I’ve ever owned (see above: movers) – and opens with “Travelin’ Man/Beautiful Loser” by Bob Seger. Yes, the live version. No, the rest of the tape doesn’t have much to do with moving, save Steve Miller’s “Jet Airliner” (“Goodbye to all my friends at home/Goodbye to people I trusted”), but this choice was poignant. This was my first “going out on my own” move. I had just recently been disinvited to re-enroll at Lewis University for what would have been my third year of college, I was going to try the full-time radio route against my parents’ advice, and the song was just appropriate, especially the second half. (“He wants to dream like a young man/With the wisdom of an old man…”)
The New Zealand Adventure in 1994 also had a tape that was never finished. Among the titles included on it were “Go West” by the Pet Shop Boys (covering the Village People) and “L.A. Goodbye” by the Ides of March, which I have written about before.
These got me thinking: were I to make a mix tape for the Great Relocation of 2017, what would go on it? Here’s my working list:
“Movin’ Out” – Billy Joel. This seemed too easy.
“Movin’ On” – Bad Company. Another tenuous fit, but a decent record.
“Homeward Bound” – Simon and Garfunkel. Kalamazoo is a lot like Grand Rapids, just smaller and hipper. Many of the local businesses are even the same between the two towns. The lyric “And each town looks the same to me/The movies and the factory” always stood out. (Had we left the state, I’d have to have included “America” instead. Since Michigan doesn’t seem like a dream to me now – we’re still there – it doesn’t fit.)
“Little Boxes” – Pete Seeger. I just want to put this on a mix tape someday.
“New Kid In Town” – The Eagles.
“New York’s A Lonely Town” – The Trade Winds. This is a fantastic under-played oldie about a surf kid from California whose family moves to New York and leaves him in the snow off of the beach. It doesn’t fit this situation, but what a great record.
‘Home” – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes. It’s made its way into every millennial travel video, and if you don’t recognize the title, trust me – you’ve heard it in a commercial at least one, but it’s still a catchy song that reminds us that wherever you and I are, that’s home, regardless of what the name of the place is.
Kalamazoo itself factors into popular music, perhaps best indicated by Glenn Miller’s “(I Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo,” which everyone knows despite its age. The town name appears in songs by CCR and Bowling for Soup, and I’d probably put those songs on there as well. More recent examples include the Black Keys “Gotta Get Away,”The Blu’s “Kalamazoo,”
and Ben Folds’ “Kalamazoo,” although he seems to be heading in the wrong direction. Of course, in 1989 I’d have put it on the tape. Hell, I’d have included The Harry Simeone Songsters’ “It’s a Beautiful Day For a Ball Game” – the open to WGN Radio broadcasts of Cub games in the 1970s – just for the mention of the city.
What say you? What songs go on your moving playlist? Feel free to add them below.