See yourself perhaps many decades from now, a barely-breathing shell. One final flicker of animation in the physical medium of your mind before you pass to the next world. What will that last vision be for you? No one can say, but it might not necessarily be a replaying of the greatest parts of your life. Instead, it might simply be an ordinary moment when you were young and full of expectations.
For me, it might well be the those crazy years at twenty through twenty-two and the long drives I took, particularly the ones I endeavored upon alone. On one of those solo drives in 1991, I was traveling from Cincinnati, back home to the Baltimore-Washington region and I took eastbound State Route 32 through southern Ohio. I didn’t know what to expect when planning my drive home on the Rand McNally atlas, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the wide-open rural landscapes along the rolling foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
That’s my experience in Ohio, aside from much-later visits to the Cleveland area. On that drive in ’91, I stopped for a meal at a franchise restaurant in a town called Athens. Small-time money was a big deal at that age, when you’re a college dropout working low-wage jobs. You had to keep an eye on your wad of cash to be sure that there’s enough left for fuel. I looked up that location on Google Streetview a few years ago, it was there. No one working there now, if that place is still in business, has any reason to know who I am or how important that place is to me in nostalgia value for reasons that do not make any sense. I hope it’s still cool [White] American teenagers working there, like thirty years ago.
Anyway, that was a segue to a 2012 video that features a group of older kids and teens in Ohio covering Dream Theater’s “Pull Me Under,” one of the greatest obscure rock songs. They are talented, outstanding skill with their instruments. The video is well made too, explicating the anatomy of the song. The star of the show, going by the comments under the video, is the eleven-year-old vocalist Kala. One woman writes, and this is a top comment:
“I’m 31 years old and I want to be this girl when I grow up.”
I am in agreement as to Kala’s talent and awed by every musician performing in this studio setting eight years ago:
The arc of life, young edition. One can peak early in life, with regards to developing one’s talent. Sometimes that’s perfectly fine. Many good high school athletes move on to other things after they grow up. But this young lady knows that she has a gift. High school-aged three years ago, she performed the U.S. National Anthem at a baseball game in Cincinnati:
Commenters unanimously applaud the respect she shows for her own heritage:
“And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how you sing the national anthem. No voice inflection, no tone changes, no high note on ‘free’. THANK YOU!”
“This was perfect. You gave the song the respect that it deserves. You didn’t try to show off yourself, You showed a love for your Flag and Country that was beautiful. I’m proud of you. Great job.”
“Thank you for singing it right! You didn’t add your own flare in there like all the dumb celebrities who sing it. You sung it right. Great job!”
Now in 2019, she’s a young adult and a captivating musician. She fronts a band called Saving Escape. That signature vocal quality and that showmanship she’s got as a kid in that first video is definitely there now. Excellent original music:
[Here is the studio version of the song.]
I don’t know this young woman or the band, I just discovered them because I was originally interested in covers of “Pull Me Under.” There is so much talent, and so much inexhaustible beauty wherever our people are, especially in the heartland. The protective instinct is powerful when mobilized by historic developments.