To me, it’s a song about short cuts. We all want that expressway, whether it’s to someone’s heart, or it’s to something else we want.
And the truth is, there just aren’t any short cuts.
Sure, we all hear about some “overnight success”, but the real ones are little more than a fluke. Yet, somehow, so many of us look at them and try to figure out how to emulate whatever it is they did to try and get the same results.
And it doesn’t work that way.
There was a story recently about a man who stopped in at a convenient store to break a big bill, so he bought a couple lottery tickets and won ten million dollars. I’m pretty sure, without even checking, that when that story broke, a lot of people went and did the same thing.
There weren’t any follow-up stories about the same thing happening again.
It’s just not a good business plan.
The other thing is, without standing in someone’s shoes, you don’t know what it really took for them to become an “overnight success”.
People like to site some writers in the same way as that guy who lucked out with the lottery. Stephen King, John Grisham and J.K Rowling are usually on that kind of list, almost as though they’re undeserving of their success.
But all three worked for years at difficult jobs. Years. And somehow, around those difficult jobs, and other challenges the Universe threw at them, they managed to pursue that goal of writing to eventually find that expressway and become that “overnight success”.
Never mind that Stephen King lived with his family in a trailer while he taught high school English and struggled to make ends meet. Or that John Grisham had a job watering bushes for a dollar an hour. Or that J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book on scraps of paper on the commuter train to and from a job that barely kept her out of poverty.
Instead, though, we see the successes they’ve achieved, and feel like we deserve it, too.
And maybe we do. But we have to be willing to put in the work for it, and that’s where it falls apart for many of us.
We let ourselves become so consumed with the negative that we often can’t see a way out. Or we put our energies into trying to find that short cut, and then wallowing in our disappointment when our YouTube video only gets 3 views.
It doesn’t help when we also expend so much energy on things way beyond our control. We may not even realize we’re doing it, but we can’t help thinking about everything that could go wrong that it can become paralyzing.
Sadly, although appropriately, there’s no simple fix for any of this.
It requires a change in attitude. At minimum, an adjustment, at maximum, a complete make-over.
And the truth is, whatever it is you want to do or achieve, it will mean so much more if you actually did earn it, putting in the blood, sweat and tears to make it happen, rather than waking up one day to find you have whatever you want with no effort at all.
The effort makes it good, makes it valuable. And the path to get there is different for each one of us.
Besides, like the song says, the expressway is too crowded.
My friends and I got so much joy out of this song, which is really just Ray’s take on Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood”, jazzed up a bit and modernized for 1980.
You may be thinking, “Ray Anthony? Glenn Miller? Jazz? What teenagers would be interested in that?”
To which I will simply join countless teenagers (past, present and future) and simply say, “You don’t know us at all.”
This was the morning deejay playing something for us, sharing something with us, that he thought was cool and fun. And if any other adult had suggested it was cool and fun, they would have gotten an eye roll, at the very least.
But this was the guy who was always introducing us to cool and fun new music, our music. He was the one who first shared “Cadillac Ranch” with us. And “Back In Black”. And “Once In A Lifetime”.
And he broke the news to us that John Lennon had been killed.
We loved music when we were teenagers. It became an important part of who we were, especially since we were discovering a lot of it, and it was all so different than what our parents, or even our older siblings, listened to.
And, yes, back then, “discovering” music came mostly from listening to the radio.
It doesn’t really matter where we found it, or where we find music today. Music has power. It really connects us all, even if some only refer to it because they don’t like it. Or, at least, don’t like what you’re listening to.
It makes us feel. Music is probably the only form of art that elicits an emotional response so quickly. You love it. You hate it. You quickly hit the back button to replay that song you love (or you Shazam it so you can get a copy of your own later). Or you quickly hit “skip” or change the station when that song you don’t like comes on.
It can make us laugh or just feel good, in a fast three minutes. Or it can makes us melancholy in the same speedy amount of time.
And music is a time machine.
Nothing captures the essence of a particular period of time like music. You can instantly be transported back to a concert you attended in your early twenties, or vividly recall that first record or CD your parents gave you when you were just a kid.
And while couples may have memorable romantic dates at the movies or restaurants, or even Disneyland, more of them have one particular piece of music that they each recognize as Their Song.
The same song can have so many different meanings and memories attached to it, for each one of us. And they don’t always have to be momentous occasions. Some may bring back memories of family trips. Some may remind you of a friend or family member. Some might take you back to a certain job or school.
And some may just take you back to when you were in high school and you were getting excited about the weekend.
Ken Kessler has always been interested in psychic phenomena, and like Mulder on the X-Files, wants to believe. But like most, he tends to look for, and accept, rational explanations. (More)