My musical taste as a child was very much influenced by the CDs my mother chose to put in the (then revolutionary) six CD changer in her Ford Galaxy. We had little or no influence over what went in the changer, and I have no regrets about that now. I’m much disappointed that these days, the albums in there are the Spongebob Squarepants OST and Cbeebies Greatest Hits. Mum’s Best of ELO album gave me a lasting love of much more than Mr Blue Sky. Her Soft Metal Ain’t It Heavy album meant I knew Don’t Stop Believing before Glee made it newly famous.
But it was always the two Meatloaf albums – a near permanent fixture in the much coveted CD slots – that had the most lasting impression on me.
As a child of eight or nine, I was too young to understand what Meatloaf professed he wouldn’t do in I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That), but I couldn’t help but be moved by the raw emotion of both the music and Meatloaf’s incredible voice. The music was a double influence for me, because of Jim Steinman’s piano led style. As a budding pianist, I loved to hear my instrument played in music I found interesting, and so evocative.
I loved the slower songs, mostly, Heaven Can Wait, For Crying Out Loud – I knew all the words – but there wasn’t a single song I didn’t enjoy, and I’m still known to occasionally duet Paradise By The Dashboard Light on Karaoke, if I can find a willing partner.
But my favourite song, far and away, was Objects in the Rearview Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are. A clumsy title for a song, but a beautiful metaphor for life. Back then, it was my favourite tune, but as an adult I have a new appreciation for the clever lyrics.
This week, I am reminded of them for an altogether sadder reason.
A young man I don’t know lost his life this week. The Boyfriend was called to the accident – a car crash – just after we’d gone to bed. I don’t really remember. I’ve been so tired lately, I sometimes have trouble distinguishing between what really happens, and what’s a dream at night time.
I didn’t make the connection when my Facebook feed started to fill with RIP messages. I didn’t make the connection when I saw the story on BBC News. But I knew, without having to know that the Fire Service were called, that the most likely reason the two young men in the car lost their lives was due to speed or alcohol. I suspected speed.
I had very little sympathy. You choose to drive considerably over the speed limit, you’re not only taking your own life into your hands, but the lives of other road users. It’s fairly inevitable that something dreadful will happen eventually. The Boyfriend has seen it enough times, and in my job, working with young people, I’ve known it close enough to know people affected personally.
I never met the young man in question, or the passenger in his car. But he was my sister Taylor’s best friend’s brother.
I’m not terribly empathic, or sympathetic. I’d be lying if I said I felt anything for the boys. But I feel so desperately sad for the families they left behind. Particularly the family I know.
I recently downloaded the piano music for Objects in the Rear View Mirror, and singing through it today, I was struck by how much the first verse and chorus described the situation – from a future perspective, perhaps, but it was close enough to prompt me to record my emotions here. A cathartic purging that will make me feel a little better. Until I remember that there’s nothing the family of the boy whose name I didn’t even know until monday will be able to do to feel better. Except wait for time to heal.
But it does break my heart to think that young man will always now be an object in the rear view mirror to Taylor’s friend.
Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are
The skies were pure and the fields were green
And the sun was brighter than it’s ever been
When I grew up with my best friend Kenny
We were close as any brothers than you ever knew
It was always summer and the future called
We were ready for adventures and we wanted them all
And there was so much left to dream
And so much time to make it real
But I can still recall the sting of all
The tears when he was gone
They said he crashed and burned
I know I’ll never learn
Why any boy should die so young
We were racing, we were soldiers of fortune
We got in trouble but we sure got around
There are times I think I see him peeling out of the dark
I think he’s right behind me now and he’s gaining ground
But it was long ago and it was far away,
Oh God it seems so very far
And if life is just a highway,
Then the soul is just a car
And objects in the rear view mirror
May appear closer than they are