There are so many lyrics in country music about hearing a song on the radio and having to pull over on the side of the road until you calm back down. Or, maybe you hear a song on the radio and changing the station, because you don’t want to stir up those old feelings. Like most things, this comes up so often in songs because it’s so relatable. Chances are, almost everyone has been there once or twice. You probably clicked on this article because you have to.
Personally, I’m not much of a crier. I understand that defies my gender stereotype as a female, and trust me, I’ve been criticized for it numerous times. But if something is really going to get me choked up, it’s going to be initiated by the song playing on the radio, when I’m driving in my car.
For most people, especially when it’s on your daily commute, driving becomes a mindless task. You’re basically on autopilot when cruising that exact same route you take back and forth five days a week. My commute is usually about twenty minutes, so I usually just leave the radio to play whatever it feels like. I’m not looking for quality jam time, I’m just trying to wake up and prepare myself for the day. I usually sing along without thinking about it – since they usually play the same songs – and most of the time, I couldn’t tell you what six songs I heard by the time I get to work.
Today was not one of those days. Sometimes I can almost expect when it will happen, because I’m already upset about something else or I got lost in memories the night before. I can’t think of anything that would’ve done it this time, but here I am. So, I start driving to work, and the first song to play is Cole Swindell’s “Dad’s Old Number.” Normally, this song doesn’t get me. Full disclosure – my dad was disabled only a year after I left home, so he was unable to use a phone by himself for the six years until he passed. So though I get the sentiment, I usually just look up at the sky and smile, take it as a sign from him and go on about my day.
Not today. I kind of lost it. Maybe that’s partially because I grew up about 45 minutes north of Dayton, Ohio, and I still have a Dayton area code (937). Maybe I was thinking about how this song might have become so much more relevant to so many more people back home this weekend. Maybe I was thinking about how hard it is to lose someone, especially a parent, and know you won’t ever be able to pick up the phone and call them. Maybe I am wishing I could call my dad and talk about, well anything. I honestly can’t tell you what I was thinking about subconsciously, but as I listened to this song I’ve heard 100 times, I couldn’t hold back.
As I mentioned above, I’m not much of a crier, and if it ever does come, in most settings I pull it back and tuck it back where it was. In my car, it’s a different story. For some reason, in my car, I feel like it’s safe to just let it go. I can guarantee that my steering wheel has seen more tears from me than any person my life. Maybe that’s why people get so attached to their cars, or trucks – as most songs go. Sure those songs talk about fun memories, like girls, parties, hunting, or whatever, but maybe it’s also because that’s the one place you were honest with your emotions. Who knows, I’m just speculating. But I always feel like those cries alone in the car, no matter where you are or where you’re going, are the most real, authentic, and therapeutic kind. They just come out of nowhere and we don’t expect them. I think those are our true emotions showing. Also, props to the songwriters and artists who create music that can hit us in just the right spot, so we can let go of whatever we’ve been holding in.
Music will take you on a wild emotional roller coaster though. I got my crying out for the first verse and chorus, then started to bring it back down to normal. I was fine by the end of the song. Next song that comes on – Luke Combs “Beer Never Broke My Heart.” It’s like all that sadness disappeared and I was ready to rally and start drinking (at 8am on a Monday morning). Of course, I didn’t just forget what I was feeling a couple minutes ago. But I more or less like to think of those things as continued signs. My dad would’ve loved this song and I could imagine us singing along with it together. In these situations, I always think he wants me to remind me that he’s watching, but I also know he wants me to be happy and remember all the good times we had, not just the sad fact that he’s gone.
Long story short, a solid car cry will do you a lot of good every once in a while. Plus, it’s way cheaper than a therapist.