Highway 105 Music Therapy

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Since I was a little girl, I have been a huge fan of the music scene. I can look at an old record album cover and I am transported back to specific memories; as a five year old dancing in my living room with my sister to Donna Summers or Grease, pretending to be one of the musicians from ABBA and using my mom’s sewing machine as a make shift keyboard so that it looked authentic, and spinning on roller skates under a glittery disco ball at the Ignace arena to epic 80’s tunes. (On a side note, I have a couple dozen mini disco balls attached to my living room ceiling. An homage, if you will, to those fantastic days.)

Then there were the teen years of cruisin’ with friends while listening to Def Leppard or singing Bon Jovi in unison at one of Drew’s epic kitchen parties. The young adult years introduced world music into my home, as I explored music festivals and turned my interests to unique sounds that my ears had never tasted before. With my son came children’s music like Greg Brown’s “Bathtub Blues” album that could be played repetitively without nausea. (My son never knew who Barney was.)

Snugglin’ and swaying to Greg Brown’s mellow voice.

Then he started dancing in the kitchen with me, and we turned our home into a techno rave party! Many a nights were spent with friends, blasting the tunes and dancing up a storm.

Alas, music has always been an integral part of my life, and when I met Brad and learned he was a musician, I felt like I had won the jackpot. The guy’s cute AND creative. Sweet deal.

We barely knew each other but we both knew that we just needed to dance!

So you can only imagine what it’s like when Brad and I get into a vehicle together and head down the 105 to the farm. The music is a huge part of that trip. I’ve done gone and put together a playlist of songs for you that we listen to quite frequently when we’re road trippin’. You can check it out in my resource library under the title “Road Trip Tunes”.

Brad has been in many a band throughout the years. This was at Norseman days, lead vocals with Dayburner.

If you’ve ever driven to or away from Red Lake, then you know exactly what the 105 is all about, because you have to be truly alert and conscientious when driving down this swervy, windy, animal-riddled obstacle course, teaming with logging truck drivers and convoys of boat-lugging tourists. Highway 105 is the road that you must take once getting off the Trans-Canada. It leads you right to “the end of the road” and to what has been called, “the most northern stop lights in Ontario” (but I don’t know if that’s really true). I don’t even really know where I heard that, but I have a tendency to tell people that. Maybe I’ve just become really good at believing my own little boastful white lie because it sounds both ridiculous and intriguing at the same time. So, anyone that has driven down the 105 knows that you don’t really stop down this stretch of road unless you go to the Pit Stop or Coulson’s in Ear Falls to get coffee, or take a pee, or both. Then you usually don’t stop again until Vermilion Bay.

I created a series of line drawings that reflect some of my favourite spots along the 105.

That trip is a good two hours, and a lot of loud singing with mandatory steering wheel drumming and a lot of conversation can be had during that time.

You can just imagine how loud it gets in our vehicle, eh? lol

Over the years, I have heard several women say that when they need to “have it out” with their husbands, that they just wait for a trip down the 105 because there is absolutely nowhere they can go once the driving starts. Their husband is stuck, listening to his wife give her perspective on things for those two hours. He definitely takes the time to make that stop in Ear Falls and contemplates whether it’s easier to just turn around and go back home or whether it’s really worth it to just make it to the end of the 105. I think I may have been in that situation one or two times over the years. Let’s admit it; we all have.

Givin’ er on the dance floor at our wedding in 2012.

But you put two people in a confined space, and add the element of music, and the conversation grows, and ultimately turns in to a therapy session. The words of a song become poignant and do what music does best; transports directly to those memories as we try our best to relay the feeling, experience and story that the specific song has branded into our soul. Sometimes it is hard to relay that memory in between sheer guttural sobs or hysterical laughter!

And I am certain that has happened a million times, because it truly feels like I have traveled up and down the 105 at least that much. As a child, it was to go on sports trips. As a teenager, it was wild escapes to the city with friends and my boyfriend. As a university student, it was to come home for some TLC, as an adult, to go on medical trips, holidays, city shopping sprees, festivals, work related seminars, and the like and now it’s to go back and forth to the farm, with the occasional trip to take my boy to university or meet him at the airport.

Sometimes we sing gibberish…much to Alex’s chagrin.

But you know, regardless of who I go with, the trip always starts with some good music, and then it transforms some how, and suddenly the conversation gets intimately personal; close in a way that is undefinable, really, and the music just becomes background noise.  I could be sitting in my kitchen with that same person over a cup of coffee and would not have the same conversation. Does the intimacy of the conversation occur because of the risk that is taken in just driving down the 105? Do we somehow feel a need to “confess” our desires and secrets? Is it because we are looking straight ahead at the road, making it easier to discuss topics that may be considered taboo if looking each other in the eye? Is it because we are enclosed in a small space and having confessional flashbacks? Is it because we finally have an opportunity to sit back and talk about ourselves for two hours instead of worrying about everyone else all the time?

Whatever the case may be, I have unleashed some awfully strong secrets in the confines of a vehicle on the 105, along with my roadie partners. And you know, that is where the conversation stays. It really does. That highway will do that to you, and that’s not such a bad thing. Releasing pent up gobbly goop that is collecting dust in the file folders of our brains is always a good thing.

But above and beyond the confessionals, the music itself is sometimes fodder for fun music trivia road games. One time Brad and I played a game where we thought of a song we knew the words to, and recited it like poetry instead of singing the words. Read this out loud as an example;

“I am an old woman, named after my mother. My old man is another child who’s grown old. If dreams were thunder, lightning were desire, this old house would have burned down, a long time ago.”

The goal is to try and guess what the song is, and then if you both want, you can sing it. It really puts the words of the song in a completely different context when removed from hearing the undulation of the word’s when written to move with the rhythm of the music. It can have you gob stopped in wonder, knowing that you’ve heard that song before, but you’re not sure of what it is at all! By the way, that song is “Angel of Montgomery” written by John Prine. My favourite version of it is sung by Bonnie Raitt.

And here’s another one on the other side of the spectrum. Read it out loud in a very normal voice;

 “You got the peaches, I got the cream. Sweet to taste, saccharine. ‘Cause I’m hot, say what, sticky sweet from my head, my head, to my feet. Do you take sugar? One lump or two?”

Sounds quite hilarious when you say it out loud without singing in none other than in the quintessential style of Def Leppard, eh?

How many of these songs do you know the words to?

Yet another game we like to play is where we play the very beginning of a song, which usually starts off with instruments, and the other person has to try to guess what the song is as quickly as they can. You get bonus points if you can guess both the name of the song and the musician in one clean sweep. This is when your understanding of different genres of music comes in, and whether you are capable of recognizing a specific band’s style of music right away or not. This one is super fun and one night, Brad and I played this song game for a good solid hour or two! Imagine if you will, the sound of the flutes and drums in ABBA’s “Fernando”. That’s an easy one to figure out right from the get go. Same with the robotic voice of Boney M saying “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard the starship Boney M!” That’s a dead give away as to who it is, but would you have guessed right away that it is called “Night flight to Venus”? Only a diehard Boney M fan would know that one! You can get as esoteric as you want with this game if you really want to trick your playing partner, but it’s most fun when you select songs that are recognizable yet challenging.

So the next time you’re considering a day trip to Dryden for some shopping (or to visit us at the farm) or you’re heading out on a cross country adventure, not only do you now have an awesome 115 song playlist to check out, but you also have a few entertaining music related games to play on your trip. Mind you, that’s if you get to any of that at all; you may be too busy arguing with your partner or in a state of musical therapeutic reverie where you are transported to different times in your fantastic life.

Whatever the case, I hope you enjoy the road, where ever it takes you, and that music is always there to create new memories for you.

Singing “The Warrior” on a road trip with a banana microphone.

Life Is a Highway Tom Cochrane Life’s like a road that you travel on
When there’s one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind
There’s a world outside every darkened door
Where blues won’t haunt you anymore
Where the brave are free and lovers soar
Come ride with me to the distant shore
We won’t hesitate, break down the garden gate
There’s not much time left today Life is a highway
I want to ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
I want to drive it all night long

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Alexander and Billy are full of smiles and  ready to hit the highway for a road trip to the farm. Too bad they didn't have my epic playlist of great music to get them there. They won't be without it anymore!

Author: theclevercorvidsfarmhousestudio

Rhonda (Bobinski) Beckman left Red Lake, Ontario, after high school to obtain her Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours Degree, then continued on to receive her Bachelor of Education Degree at the University of Manitoba. She then returned and taught Visual Arts at Red Lake District High School for almost 20 years while continuing to make her own art on the side. In 2014, Rhonda established herself as the sole proprietor of The Clever Corvid Art and Art Workshops, where she runs artistic workshops for all ages and abilities in the community and beyond. She is now working on the next stage of her artistic career as she and her husband slowly transform 167 acres of land just outside of Dryden, Ontario, into a future artist's retreat. Rhonda can be found at local festivals and on Facebook, peddling her creative wares that are inspired by the beautiful nature that surrounds her.