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WHERE I’M WRITING FROM: Dropping rock CD in the school drop-off line

by Eli Cranor, Special to the Democrat-Gazette | December 4, 2022 at 3:11 a.m.


I'm writing from the drop-off line at my daughter's elementary school.

No matter when we leave the house, it's always a 15-minute wait. That may not sound like a long time to you, but time is different when kids are involved. My son, aka "Bub," is in the truck too. I'll take him to his preschool after we finally make it to the front of this line.

There are other kids in other cars in front of, behind, and beside us — zombie-eyed kindergartners nose-deep in electronic devices. A tablet would make drop off easier. No doubt. Even a couple minutes with daddy's cell phone might do the trick. But the Cranor kids are screen free in the mornings.

Maybe they'll thank me one day, or maybe they'll get restless, just like they're doing now — like they always do — until I reach for the weathered case in the shotgun seat. My kids fall quiet as I slip a disc from a plastic sheath and slide it into a slit on my truck's dash.

My son shouts, "Rock out!" before the first power chord hits. He knows the drill. Knows what's about to go down when Daddy's truck inhales one of those strange discs.

I found that case in the basement two months ago. There are over 100 CDs packed in there, each one a portal to my high school and college days, the soundtrack of my youth, a soundtrack I'd forgotten all about.

Sevendust, Saliva, and Theory of a Deadman — somehow, I forgot they existed. As ridiculous as those names sound now, I saw every one of those bands play live. I broke my nose in a mosh pit at a Sevendust show. Maybe that's why I forgot they existed.

I never hear any of their songs on the radio, either. When I was a kid, there were "classic rock" stations that played all the bands my dad loved in his youth. There are stations that still play those same old songs. But whatever happened to Three Days Grace and Black Stone Cherry?

I'm sure they're still out there, playing biker bars with beer-slick concrete floors, the same sort of surface I slipped on at that Sevendust show. But I still can't shake the feeling that those bands have been forgotten.

I feel the same way about the two decades that comprised the bulk of my youth, the unnamed years between 2000 and 2019.

Whenever someone mentions the '70s, the '80s, or even the '90s, a certain style comes to mind. A certain type of music. The same cannot be said of the early 2000s.

I wonder if it's just the fact that there's no easy name for the time period? The "2010s" doesn't have the same ring as the "Roaring 20s."

Or maybe it's the quality of music, the quality of art — or lack thereof — that's caused those generations to fade. I mean, is there really any comparison between Led Zeppelin and Limp Bizkit? Did old-timers say the same thing about Frank Sinatra when Led Zeppelin came along? Am I getting old?

Yes, I'm officially old enough to be blaring early 2000s alternative rock in the drop-off line while my daughter unbuckles her car seat. We're at the front of the school now. There's a teacher headed straight for us.

The last 10 minutes have flown by. Who knows, maybe the kids like my music. I tell myself they do and put the truck in park. The CD is still blaring, so loud I can't hear what my daughter's saying. I just feel her tiny fingers tap my head.

"What?" I click the stereo off and look up into the rearview mirror.

"That music," my daughter whispers as the teacher opens the door. "It was embarrassing."

Eli Cranor is an Arkansas author whose debut novel, "Don't Know Tough," is available wherever books are sold. He can be reached using the "Contact" page at elicranor.com and found on Twitter @elicranor.


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