Of course, having a sweet ride always helps, and my friend Regi had the sweetest ride of all when we were sixteen: a 1988 Chevrolet Caprice. This car was an absolute beast, nearly as long as a school bus, and better-furnished than the apartment I currently live in. It got maybe 12 miles to the gallon, but who cared when we were travelling on, in essence, a motorized, over-large couch?
It was in this car that we took one of my favorite road trips ever: an afternoon journey to Missoula, followed by a four-day stay at my grandmother’s cabin on Lindbergh Lake. The sun was shining, the A/C was up, and we were locked at 74 all the way there, not giving a toss about who passed us or what hand gestures they were making while they did. Life was good.
On our way home, Regi was sleeping in the back seat, while my other friend Jeff and I sat up front. We listened to a few compilations that we had picked up from the Missoula Hot Topic, and sat in contented silence when they had finished. About ten miles outside of Butte, Regi woke up:
Regi: “Did you guys want to put some music in?”
Andrew: “Nah, we’re good, dude.”
Regi: “Let me rephrase that.”
[Regi hands Andrew a CD]
Coheed and Cambria – “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3”
What the crap, you may ask, is this “Silent Earth: 3” bollocks? It’s the title track to an album I bought Regi while I was vacationing in Seattle early that same year, and the first non-intro song on the disc. It also happens to be the CD that Regi handed me. The sky was overcast, the road moved by steadily, and aided by the setting around me, it sucked me into one of my favorite records to date, and perhaps the only album from this nonsense “prog” genre that I will actually listen to.
Far from an energetic beginning, “Silent Earth” starts with a bit of a Trojan horse, opening with a slow, plodding acoustic guitar before the main energetic thrust of the song begins. Then as now, this opening compels me—it’s a wonderful combination of aggressive guitars with an air of placidity—or is that the placidity I was feeling when I first heard this song? It’s a long one, but the melodies are well-developed, and, like the rest of the album, I take great pleasure in getting lost in the torrent of sound, emotions, and who knows what else.
Lyrically, I could care less about the specifics of this song. Coheed and Cambria is a concept band (yes, band) whose lyrics are based on a graphic novel penned by the lead singer, which apparently tells some sort of great sci-fi epic. Whatever. I’ve always taken the “feel” of the music and integrated it into whatever experiences I'm having at the time, and this is probably the best way to enjoy Coheed and Cambria.
Even though, thematically, “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3” doesn’t amount to a hill of beans with me, I still love this song, and the album it’s named for. It reminds me of my first taste of youthful freedom, of friends and highway lines, and the four-wheeled couch that brought us together.