Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Check It Out

Have you ever listened to a song hundreds of times, but not really heard it? You hum along, sing the words, maybe  chair dance, but it’s not until the time is right and you can relate to the lyrics, that you really hear it for the first time.

I've always liked John Mellencamp. I've seen him several times in concert with my Mom. Back in the Johnny Cougar days I thought he was cute in that rough and tumble sort of way. He had music I thought I could relate to because we are both from “America’s Heartland.” He married super models, he smoked (back when smoking made you seem cool), and he had a cause. 

My Dad really related to him and enjoyed his music immensely. When he’d be in the basement on a Saturday night, having a few beers and smoking a cigar, he’d crank American Fool and sing along. Sometimes I’d join him for a game of pool and a sing-a-long before I went out for the night. He was getting it on a whole different level than I was though. He was who John was talking about in his songs. He was a hard working guy just trying to make it through the week, provide for his family, and get to the weekend to enjoy life for 48 hours before starting it all over again.

A few months ago, I was alone in the car and “Check It Out” came on. I've always liked that song a lot, but until that day I had never really heard it. I hadn't lived enough of life when that song came out in 1987 to really hear it. I was a freshman in high school. I wasn't paying utility bills or buying a house. I couldn't even work at the time. It was a catchy melody and it was my favorite song on the entire “The Lonesome Jubilee” album, which I owned on cassette.

Check it out
Goin' to work on Monday
Check it out
Got yourself a family
Check it out
All utility bills have been paid
You can't tell your best buddy that you love him
So check it out
Where does our time go
Check it out
Got a brand new house in escrow
Check it out
Sleepin' with your back to your loved one
This is all that we've learned about happiness

But that afternoon driving in the car, I started singing along. (I can remember every word to every song I've ever enjoyed, but ask me what I had for breakfast yesterday and I probably couldn't tell you.) I felt like John was singing me. I had utility bills, a house, moments where I've slept with my back to my loved ones, Saturdays where I've gotten too drunk, and Sundays where we play football with the kids. I finally lived enough of life to get it and to get why my Dad related so much to John’s music.

Gettin' too drunk on Saturdays
Check it out
Playin' football with the kids on Sundays
Check it out
Soarin' with the eagles all week long
And this is all that we've learned about living
This is all that we've learned about living

I always knew my Dad worked his ass off for his family. We were close and I knew him well, but at that moment I finally felt like I had a better understanding.

A million young poets
Screamin' out their words
Maybe someday
Those words will be heard
By future generations
Ridin' on the highways that we built
Maybe they'll have a better understanding

Check it out, Dad. I hear you.

I wrote this blog on a Sunday after seeing our friend, Al's band on Saturday night where they played "Check It Out." I had heard the song about 6 months prior and mentally made a note to write about it, but never did. Hearing it again made me actually get the words out of my head. I didn't publish it though. I sat on it. Sometimes I do that. I write things to get them out, but then still want to keep it to myself. On the way to co-op on Tuesday, "Check It Out" came on the 80's station. I made the kids stay in the car in the parking lot and listen. 

They didn't understand. 

I took it as a sign from my Dad.