For as long as I can remember, music has defined moments in my life. From the important to the inane, typically there has been a song tied to the moment.

Not that you care, but I feel like sharing. So here goes.

“Like A Rhinestone Cowboy,” Glen Campbell

glen campbell

My parents may disagree, but this is the first song I truly remember singing like a Top 40 station. You know, over and over and over again until somebody changes the channel. I’m really not sure if this signals anything other than that, but this was the first of many songs I got stuck in my head.

“Moonlight Feels Right,” Starbuck


While “Rhinestone Cowboy” was the first song I truly remember from my youth, “Moonlight” was the first song I can definitely tie to a specific place. The Chesapeake Bay reference was vivid in the summer of 1977 shortly before we moved back from Maryland to Omaha. The song still brings back crystal-clear images of the bay, as well as weekend trips to Vermont and Gettysburg, Ol’ Blue chugging along I-95 and the Hickory Hills apartment complex. I was young, but those were good times, man. Classic.

“Macho Man,” The Village People

One of my third-grade rivals, Jose Jefferson, got to perform a solo song-and-dance routine to this song at our annual recital. I was part of a group routine about a cat who died. Young man, some people have all the luck…

“Classical Gas,” Mason Williams

mason williams

Before Omaha’s KFAB switched to a talk radio format, it was music heavy — and the format was very much like the one currently in play at KVOE in Emporia. I still flat-out love this song…although it always reminds me of the time we drove by a St. Vincent de Paul store which had a ratty acoustic guitar in the front window. I begged my dad to get that. I begged my brother for his money to buy it. No each time. Yeah, I know. Bad form even for a nine-year-old.

“Telegraph Road,” Dire Straits

This one reminds me of listening to Z-92 as a middle schooler….wellllll after bedtime.

“I Wanna Be A Cowboy,” Boys Don’t Cry

Just one of those songs that gives me pleasant memories of high school. I didn’t have many, so I figured I’d better take what I can get. “Someday, I’ll be dead yo yo.”

“For Those About to Rock,” AC/DC


Omahans, you may have done this: search for Satanists in Hummel Park just for the hell of it. Then again, maybe you haven’t.

“Into My Own Hands,” Mr. Mister

Like Bob Seger’s “Like A Rock,” I always found this song empowering, and it’s helped me keep positive through some rather rough times.

“The Big Money,” Rush

Musically, this was a definitive moment for me. I was struggling at the University of Arizona with my actual studies and having no luck learning guitar during my increasing time off from the books. When I heard Power Windows (followed in short order by Hemispheres and Moving Pictures), I knew instantly I wanted to play bass like Geddy Lee. Kind of like knowing I wanted to go into sports broadcasting almost as soon as tuning into Denny Matthews and Fred White for the first time. I don’t thump nearly as often as I used to, but when I do this is still my warm-up song.

“Heart-Shaped Box,” Nirvana

This statement may get some of you mad, but I hate this song. Hate hate hate it from start to finish. I forget if Nirvana played this, but it always reminds me of the Omaha concert the band played just a few weeks before Kurt Cobain killed himself. I think the discordance from the song always reminds me of Kurt tuning his guitar (unsuccessfully) after virtually every song. That was a weird show, too. Kurt never seemed…there (and we found out why later). Krist Novoselic did most of the audience work. And Dave Grohl, well, he just mashed. He was, by far, the best part of the show.

“Awake,” Indigenous

Man, I’d pay good money to go see Indigenous at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar. If you’ve never been, the Zoo was your stereotypical hole-in-the-wall blues bar. You could officially squeeze in about 150 if you took out all the tables and chairs and the fire marshal wasn’t there. But man, what a perfect atmosphere for sizzling Texas-style blues like Indigenous plays.

“Why Worry,” Dire Straits

dire straits

One of my all-time favorites, and for some reason I tie this one to my engagement to Ginny. Little did I know, when I got down on one knee to propose, just how true the chorus would be: “Why worry/there should be laughter after pain/there’s always sunshine after rain/these things have always been the same/so why worry now/why worry now.”

“The Wedding Song,” Paul Stookey

Pretty much the perfect wedding song. At least for me.

“The Garden,” Rush

This is now the song I’m humming just about every day. The chorus, in my mind, says just about everything:

“The measure of a life
Is the measure of love and respect
So hard to earn — so easily burned
The measure of a life
Is the measure of love and respect
So hard to earn — so easily burned
In the fullness of time
A garden to nurture and protect”

If it’s worth working for, it’s worth cultivating, sweating, paining, hoping. (And if this is indeed the last song Rush ever records, that’s the way to end a career.)

“Rock Me Tonite,” Billy Squier

I’ve had a lot of bad days in my 42 years on this planet, but this is an amazing reminder that others have had it much, much worse than I have.