Singin’ (in the Car)

car song

Almost fifty years ago, my wife Muri and I moved to a new house in a new neighborhood in Yorba Linda, California. We quickly became good friends with our next door neighbors, Rex and Bettie, and almost as quickly, Rex and I discovered we both liked to play the guitar and sing. One weekend when we were camping together, singing by the campfire, Rex started to sing the Kingston Trio’s Remember the Alamo.

When he reached the chorus, I surprised him by singing the harmony. Getting together to learn each other’s favorite songs and work out harmonies became a regular thing. One Saturday morning, on Rex’s suggestion, we drove to a local music store to look at guitars … and, much to the surprise of our wives … came home with matching Martin D28s. They were beautiful instruments, and speaking for myself, far beyond my guitar skills, but we sure had fun with them. It was a splendid time to be acoustic guitar aficionados with artists like Crosby, Stills and Nash, Carly Simon, Glen Campbell, and Jim Croce dominating the airwaves. And, of course, we had the remnants of the folk era … the likes of Peter Paul and Mary and the Kingston Trio … to choose from too. I remember our favorite duet being a lesser known song by Graham Nash, Simple Man. Great lyrics and a lovely harmony in the chorus.

Rex and I haven’t sung together in a very long time. For one, Rex lost his voice due to illness. And we’ve both moved on to new neighborhoods and see each other once or twice a year for dinner. My Martin guitar sits on its stand in the corner of my office, crying, Please sell me to someone who will play me. I’m beggin’ you. I tell it, Too many fond memories, and Maybe someday, I’ll play again. Martin doesn’t believe me. I don’t blame him. But not playing doesn’t mean not singing. These days, I’m mostly Singin’ (in the Car). Usually, I break into song when I’m listening the The Seventies Station or The Bridge on Sirius XM and an old favorite comes on. The volume goes up to 40 (out of 40) and I let it rip. My voice isn’t any better than when I used to sing with Rex, so I tend to go for the songs with harmony parts. Like CSN’s Suite Judy Blue Eyes. Or America’s Ventura Highway. Do I get looks, a 74 year old bald man, singing his ass off with the music rattling the windows? Probably. Do I care? Not a bit.

According to Time Magazine, What researchers are beginning to discover is that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits. The elation may come from endorphins, a hormone released by singing, which is associated with feelings of pleasure. Or it might be from oxytocin, another hormone released during singing, which has been found to alleviate anxiety and stress. Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding, which may explain why still more studies have found that singing lessens feelings of depression and loneliness. There is also evidence that singing lowers blood pressure, improves respiratory function, boosts immunity, and improves memory. So the next time you pull up next to an old guy singing his heart out in an aging Acura to the tune of Sweet Caroline, instead of muttering, Look at that crazy old coot, join in like the woman in the Hyundai commercial. You’ll feel better, I promise.

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2 Comments on “Singin’ (in the Car)”

  1. Meg Says:

    Love that song and commercial!

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