There was a time when I was younger, when I felt like my life was going to be extraordinary. My life was going to be special, “outside the norm”. I wanted to be a rock star, but I neglected to learn an instrument, oh well. Some might say the fact that I waited so long to settle down, or the casual, gypsy-esque approach I took to life and career could be considered out of the ordinary, but in the end I’m just a working stiff punching a time clock. Some of the execs in places I’ve worked over the years behave like old-school French monarchs in advanced stages of dementia – inept and/or insane, think Louis the X, The Quarreler. I hear a lot of screaming at work. As I get older, I feel less and less extraordinary. This of course may have something to do with my good fortune to be friends with so many extraordinary individuals. My friends are an amazing collection of people – millionaires, consultants, lobbyists, architects, painters, musicians, Harley-enthusiasts, accounting partners, oil industry folks, astrophysicists, hummus enthusiasts, ex-basketball players, drummers… the list goes on. I am blessed with these friendships and I cherish them, but it certainly makes it hard to consider myself even “above-average”. These guys really set the bar high. The only thing I can point to as extraordinary in my life is my wife. I married extremely well. Thank God for the Rock Chick, she makes it all worth while.
One of the foremost of these friends of mine is my old pal GP. I usually don’t take requests here at BourbonAndVinyl, but just this once I had to make an exception when GP asked me for a playlist. I met GP (names obscured to protect the guilty), whose nicknames include Stinger, Pringle and The Mayor of Eldorado, my first week of college when we were both 18. He was one of my first room mates. I can still remember Matthew and I in the front seat of Matthew’s car driving to a freshman “mixer” with Stinger and another kid from Western Kansas in the back seat blaring Van Halen’s “Panama” with the windows down. Stinger’s face was a mask but the other kid looked terrified. I don’t think either of them were prepared for our David Lee Roth impersonations. The drunken evening ended up with Stinger holding me over his head and spinning me around like he was King Kong and I was a city bus. It was an odd beginning but it was the start of a wonderful friendship.
Stinger went on to be the “Campus Rep” for a big name beer company. During my intermittent stints of living with him, he’d drag me along to some beer event. I vaguely recall going over to Junction City to work a “Ladies Night – Male Stripper” event. My pay for the evening was all the beer I could drink, which is sadly how my current corporate overlords pay me. I did that a lot for Stinger, work for beer. We got to Junction City and these women were ready to party. The male stripper dudes were pretty lame and it didn’t take long for this rowdy crowd of drunken women to turn and start chanting, “we want the beer guys”. Naturally Stinger ended up standing in the back of the room and I ended up on stage. The last thing I coherently remember is being ushered to the stage to the sound of Tina Turner singing “What’s Love Got To Do With It” in front of the unruly rabble of women who were out for blood. Well, at least they were out for some flesh. I seem to remember doing my “overbite, run in place” dance move while twitchily taking my shirt off. I barely escaped alive. I can say that I woke up with a few bucks in my underwear but that’s about all I can tell you about that night.
After college Stinger and I ended up in Boston for a summer working for some crazed character in a liquor store. Pretty soon I headed into exile in Arkansas and Stinger went to work for a big beer company. My father always said, “Son, marry a rich woman whose daddy owns a liquor store.” Stinger outdid us all on that scale. He rose through the ranks of the beer company like a rocket. Not only was he successful in work, I’ve always considered him successful in life because of the amazing amount of charity work he did and continues to do to this day. Eventually Stinger went to work selling the dark and murky brown fluid that gives this blog part of it’s name. And then, out of the blue, at a very young age, in my opinion, he announced he was retiring. Well, not exactly retiring, but stepping away from the rat race for a bit. He’ll focus on his vast real estate empire and his charity work and get a little rest. I’m sure he’ll end up working for somebody soon enough, he’s too industrious. But in the interim, and this is where I get jealous, he’s going on a Jack Kerouac excursion. He’s loading up the car with a camera, a small bag of luggage, some bourbon and an atlas. I trust he’ll be driving from sea to shining sea, as it were. I’ve always wanted to do that. I told the wife after a recent medical procedure, before the anesthesia wore off, we were selling everything, buying a Porsche and hitting the open road. It never quite materialized. But I can always imagine driving from the swamplands of the deep South, through the plains and climbing into the mountains while Kerouac’s jazz influenced cadence runs through my head. But alas, I gotta go to work Monday.
As part of his retirement announcement he said, “Ken, this might be a BourbonAndVinyl story”. Now, I don’t usually do requests, but he called me out in a rather public way. I felt compelled to put together a playlist to celebrate his freedom in retirement. And, let’s face it, there is no freedom like the open road. The Rock Chick is better at play lists than I am, but I put together about 2 hours of music to get Stinger down the road a piece, as the saying goes. Now putting together a list like this is tough with Stinger. He’s not a screaming rock guy, I still remember the look on his face when he was trapped in Matthew’s Subaru when we met. I seem to remember he has a fondness for country music, which I despise outside of Johnny Cash. His two suggestions were “Dust In the Wind” and “Long May You Run”, not exactly “Highway to Hell”. I mixed the well-known with the obscure, the rockers with the mellow tunes… exactly what the Rock Chick advised me not to do… but what the hell. Here’s to my buddy Stinger… and you know with friends like him, and all the friends I’ve got, maybe just maybe, I am kind of extraordinary.
- Long May You Run – Stills-Young Band, by request
- Dust In the Wind – Kansas, by request
- Ramblin’ Man – The Allman Brothers, “rollin’ down high 41…”
- Roll Me Away – Bob Seger, “I took a look down a westbound road, right away I made my choice…” My pal Dennis loves this song.
- Rockin’ Down the Highway – The Doobie Brothers
- Take It Easy – The Eagles, “don’t let the sound of your wheels drive you crazy…” RIP Glenn Frey
- Truckin’ – The Grateful Dead
- Running On Empty – Jackson Browne, it starts slow but it’s a great road tune
- Call Me the Breeze – Lynyrd Skynyrd, J.J Cale wrote this tune, a classic road tune
- Six Days On the Road – Mudcrutch, Tom Petty’s side project, if you haven’t checked out this album, do yourself a favor and do so
- Helen Wheels – Paul McCartney, “hell on wheels”
- Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen, If you know anything about BourbonAndVinyl, you know this had to be on here
- Road To Nowhere – Talking Heads, I hope Stinger wakes up every morning and thinks, where to now
- Roadhouse Blues – The Doors, this song works as a road song and a drinking song, so I get the double word score here
- Road Trippin’ – Red Hot Chili Peppers, mellow tune but there’s something about the lyric, “these smiling eyes are just a mirror for the sun” that I like
- Life Is a Highway – Tom Cochrane, “and I’m gonna ride it all night long”… hmm this might be a metaphor
- Route 66 – The Rolling Stones, this is a virtual travelogue of where Stinger may travel
- Take the Money and Run – Steve Miller Band, this could literally be Stinger’s theme song here
- Runnin’ Down a Dream – Tom Petty, another great Petty road tune
- Going Mobile – The Who
- Travelin’ Man – Bob Seger, I actually prefer the studio version on the ‘Beautiful Loser’ album
- End of the Line – The Traveling Wilburys
- All Down the Line – The Rolling Stones, probably more of a train song than a road song but who can resist this riff?
- I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide – ZZ Top, hopefully Stinger’s travels take him from Florida to Idaho, where it just so happens, we know a guy
- The Wild Horse – Rod Stewart, obscure gem here from the ‘Out of Order’ album about a guy who rambles about, totally overlooked
- Hitch a Ride – Boston, my buddy DJ feels there should always be a Boston song on every play list
- Midnight Rider – The Allman Brothers, Gregg Allman also does a great version of this tune solo
- I’m Free – The Rolling Stones, “I’m free to do whatever I want, any ol’ time…” and Stinger is free now
- Free Ride – Edgar Winter, I mean, this playlist really writes itself
- Travelin’ – Tom Petty, an obscure B-side from his boxed set, it’ll stick in your head for days
I suggest putting this on “shuffle” and nudge that volume knob up as far as it’ll go. If anybody has a tune to add to this list, please feel free to respond in the comments.