Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pop Music: Big Wheels

Brigitte and I have long treasured a small circle of pop musicians. We know and have collected their work. But my own very few favorites outside that circle come from long, solo trips by car. The transition between 1988 and 1989 saw me on the road at intervals. We were moving from Hopkins, Minnesota (an outlier of Minneapolis) to Grosse Pointe, MI (a suburb of Detroit). Brigitte had gone ahead and lived in a small house we’d rented for the transition—while I hung back at Saint Albans Hotel, as we called our Hopkins house, and wound down a looong decade of life in the north. At intervals I traveled to Michigan, down the west side of Wisconsin, through Illinois, touching Indiana, and finally across Michigan to the shores of Lake St. Claire. These were long trips and I listened on the radio. Two songs remained in my memory of that time, and I’ll link to one of them here.  It’s Big Wheels in the Moonlight, one of the songs in Dan Seals’ 1988 album titled Rage On.

There is something about highways—and especially the highways of America. You leave a world and enter another. It’s always been, for me, a very strange experience, a kind of reconnection with a reality that fades as you approach the great cities—Chicago in this case and then, at a distance, Detroit—and then altogether disappears inside them. And the songs you hear on the highway—and preaching that you hear when all other radio disappears in that void between large conurbations—they stay in your tissue and, in a way, remain. Big wheels are part of that experience for me. The other song? It’s The Locomotion, particularly the version sung by Kylie Minogue, which was on the air in that transitional time. I’ll link to it here another time.


  1. Oh, yes, long road trips... before satellite radio.

    But, you forgot the honorable mention for "Drop Kick Me Jesus," a video for which I found here. I used to really wonder if you'd just made that one up.

  2. When were taking long road trips some years ago, we crossed the Chop Tank River. Can you remember the destination, Monique?

  3. No, not really. I'll guess that it was one of our trips to the beach from Fairfax?

    Great name though, Chop Tank River.

  4. Yes, we were on our way to Henlopen Beach, next door to Rehoboth... and when we were crossing that river we were quite a bit closer than when crossing the Bay Bridge.... We would then sing our automobile songs in anticipation...

  5. Over the bridge and into the ocean!

  6. to Henlopen Beach we go.... to complete the song.


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