Long before I’d really experienced any sort of real loss, likely before I’d experienced any losses at all (except for perhaps the loss of a My Little Pony or three), I remember reading or hearing that death causes you to lose people in small ways for a long time rather than BOOM! all at once. I don’t have any idea why this stuck in my memory banks for any reason at all, but it has, and the older I get, the more I realize it’s true.

I was driving back from voting today, marveling at how this Indian Summer we’re having makes the warm breeze feel stolen and therefore better, I was noting how the trees were finally the shocking orange and red of fall, and suddenly as I was flipping through the radio stations, it came on.

‘It’ being the crappy 70’s song “Low Rider.”

Between the beautiful fall weather, which always makes me feel nostalgic, the fact that I saw in person my signature from 1998, the year I turned 18 and voted proudly for the first time, and the sudden funky rifts of “Low Rider,” I inhaled sharply and had to remind myself that the year was 2008, not 1998.

And it was remembering how I stole my friend Steph’s copy of the soundtrack of Dazed and Confused and never returned it. How she and I would cruise around in my Honda DelSol, hard top off no matter how cold it happened to be, smoking cigarettes and reeking of Opium perfume, while we jammed out to “Low Rider.” We’d laugh about how my tiny car would be our coffin in the case of a crash.

If any car could have a soundtrack, that one would be War’s “Low Rider” cranked to 11.

Those were good days, back then, back when our biggest worries were if we had enough smokes or cash to grab a cup of coffee. Back before anyone was addicted to anything besides nicotine and caffeine and potentially The Rolling Stones. Back before we had ex-boyfriends, or SURPRISE! children, or welfare stamps.

As I drove home, I wished desperately that Steph could be here, here on Earth, if not with me, to appreciate what an absolutely fucking beautiful day it was today. Because while other people might be rushing around too much, too obsessed with the election to notice how glorious it simply is today, she would have.

It made me so sad to realize that I can never hear “Low Rider”–potentially the world’s corniest and least sentimental song–again without feeling a deep sense of longing for my friend whose bones will never hear it again. I’ll never be able to smell Opium perfume without being harshly jangled back to the Good Old Days which, of course, as teenagers, we never realized WERE good old days, without wanting to cry for my friend. Who will never douse herself in it again. I’ll never be able to appreciate the true beauty of a stolen late fall day without being reminded that she’ll never again feel the breeze rippling across her skin.

Today, I will listen to “Low Rider” in honor of Steph, who should be here listening along side me.

Maybe, just maybe, she is.

42 thoughts on “Somewhere A Band Is Softly Jamming Out To Low Rider

  1. I have an “It” song too. My friend that passed away in April always would say the song “Unwritten” by Natasha Beddingfield was “her song.” We’d scream it at the top of our lungs driving around town. I still cry when I hear it.

    We are too much alike, Aunt Becky. I, too, turned 18 in 1998. My bestest and I used to drive around in her del Sol with the top off smoking and rocking out. Our CD du jour was John Cougar Melloncamp! Although I did always love the Dazed and Confused soundtrack!

  2. seems a lot of us are aching for friends gone too young this time of year… i am sure steph is with you more than you know…

    today WAS glorious. somedays, doesnt it feel like you are seeing the leaves change for the first time in your life? that is what this fall is like for me… i gasp the entire drive anywhere at the trees and the sky… and if i have time, i pull off the road and take a picture or seven.

    i am sorry you are missing your friend. i am glad you have your memories to wade thru on days like this…

    much love,

  3. brooke ~ “unwritten” was my song with the love of my heart… just reading your story of your friend made me recall the words and the singing of it with my girl…and brought some achey tears. it is a good thing to love so much and keep such memories in our hearts, even when they hurt…

  4. You can still listen to Low Rider…and remember.
    That’s what memories are for. To give you little smile every now and then…when you need to.

    My it song is Dan Fogelberg’s “Part of the Plan”.

  5. Well said. I often think of my friend Chad, who absolutely adored my daughter. I wish he was around to play ‘airplane’ with Mr. Farty too. So unfair, no one should die at age 26.

  6. Very well written, Becks. Isn’t it funny how songs – however inappropriate they are – capture moments in time? I have a few of those.

    And I’m with you – for me it was Diet Coke & a Marlboro Light. Wow I miss those days.

  7. Same thing here, only the song is “Around The World” by Daft Punk.

    I don’t know which one of us is worse off.

    (That’s not meant to be disparaging; just a futile attempt at making you smile on what must be a tough day.)

  8. My friend whom I lost this year is instantly brought back to me by ANYTHING in the Beatles’ catalog. Any song they ever did. And many, many others, too. She loved to dance. The night I met my husband I was out dancing with her and that girl! She was dancing with a pole! Yep, pole-dancing, right there in Kent’s Lounge. She was crazy and I loved her and she loved the wind and she loved the music and she loved almost everything life had to offer.
    It’s so wrong she’s not here to enjoy it anymore.
    And her smell? Shalimar. Always Shalimar.

    Becky- enjoy those memories. Laugh for both of you. Dance for both of you. Be glad for when she was here to make the memories with you.

    That’s what I try to do. And mostly I succeed.

  9. I think that it’s her stopping in to say “remember when?” when odd happenings like a playing of Low Rider occur.

    You need a War song that is sentimental enough to apply to this wonderful stolen day which reminds you of your friend? Try All Day Music. It’s one of my favorites: http://www.nutsie.com/song/All%20Day%20Music/7054871?album_id=7054856&artist_id=4722812

    Still, I personally like Low Rider. I think I’ll think of you thinking of your friend whenever I hear it now.

  10. It’s true that you don’t lose someone in one fell swoop. It takes time, and pain, and memories, and anger and happiness.

    I have to agree with whoever said it was her playing that song for you. I think that happens to me alot. And I try not let it make me sad, just happy, that at least I have the memories.


  11. Here’s to Steph and all of our lost friends just like her. Though they’re never quite gone they’re sure as hell not here as much as we need them.

    And yes, that song really sucks in a really great way.

  12. Song and smells always seem to trigger memories. Some are happy, some are sad. We should feel lucky to have those memories. She touched your life and you touched hers. I hope she was riding with you today.

  13. It’s so true, it’s all the little things that come up that make you really miss them…In cleaning out ‘the room’ this week to make room for possibility, I found a book written by the father of my friend who died almost 20 years ago that detailed the night of his accident and what the family went through waiting at the hospital. I had buried my own memories of that night deep but they came back in the retelling, right down to the feel of the cold winter air on my face standing at his graveside. It blows.
    I hope she was there listening with you, I really do.

  14. Hey I’mfromNM…Low Rider is a theme song to those of us from the South Valley lol!

    I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. Life is not anything what we think it is or should be or will be when we are young.

  15. Oh man, those times are tough! It’s almost like a slap in the face AND a bucket of FREEZING cold water being throw at you. It sucks! I wish I didn’t know how you felt, but i do and if ever you wanna have an email pity party, you know the digits!

  16. She was there Becky – cos she lives in your heart and in your memories of her.

    Poignant post! Thank you for remembering her in such a sweet way.


  17. Oh, Becks. Hugs to you and a virtual toast to Steph, who will always be a part of your soul.

    My friend that I lost didn’t die, but the damage was almost total, and it was heartbreaking for me. Her perfume was Liz Claiborne and every time I smell it now I want to cry for the girls we were and the friends we were going to be forever.

    Sometimes life is just The Big Suck.

  18. I’m late reading this because I’m still catching up on my blog reading, but had to comment just to say that this was very beautiful, and sad. Thanks for sharing it.

  19. this was a sad one to read, my first post back 🙁 I can’t imagine this feeling, and I am thankful. I am sorry for your loss, but I am glad you are still appreciating glorious fall.

    Love the new site! Probably not really new, but hey, now I can see it!

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