I could tell right away that Greg was an extremely friendly guy as he opened the car door and good-naturedly yelled, “Come on in, big guy!” I settled in and we pulled off. I noticed Greg was listening to ‘Rock and Roll Roots, with Bob Stroud.’ It’s an amazing Oldies show that’s been airing since I was a kid in the 80’s. It still airs Sunday mornings from 7-10, but I rarely turn in since I’m usually busy with the kids or going to church at that time. I was glad to know I’d be listening to it for the next few minutes as I traveled to the destination. Bob started his playlist with the Loving Spoonful’s “Summer in the City.” The Spoonful is one of the more underappreciated bands in rock history, in my opinion.
Greg began singing along as if there wasn’t anybody else in the car. I started thinking about how amazing it is to be able to live in Chicago. The whole city is like my playground, and it’s hard to imagine a better time to live here than in the summer. As Loving Spoonful came to an end, we picked up another passenger, Sahong. Greg asked Sahong how he was doing this morning, to which he replied, “Unfortunately, I’m still alive, but I’m working on that.”
Greg expressed concern on hearing this and told him he hoped his day would get better. At this point, Bob Stroud had switched to some deep cut that none of us recognized. Greg said, “I love Bob Stroud but I got to know what I’m listening to if I’m gonna fuck with it.” He said he was going to see what XRT was playing. I told him they’d be playing ‘Breakfast with the Beatles’ as that’s the Sunday show I tend to listen to the most. “Oh man,” Greg responded. “Terri Hemmert!” He flipped the station and we began to hear the song “Imagine.” After a few seconds it became clear that it was not the John Lennon version we were listening to.
“Who is this?” Greg asked. I informed him was the Neil Young version of the song, and then Greg went into a spot-on impersonation, singing “Keep on Rocking (in the Free World).” I told him hands-down it was the best Neil Young impersonation I’ve heard in an Uber, and I take Ubers a lot. All of us in the car went quiet, listening to Neil’s cover, but within a few lines all three of us were singing along.
“How cool is this?” I thought. Three strangers riding in a car on a lovely Sunday morning, singing along to this beautiful song. There’s certainly a lot to despair about in the world. But for that moment I was able to focus on some of the good. The weather was perfect and I was traveling to a church that I love that makes it known that part of their mission is to love everybody. It definitely can feel like we’re moving back in serious ways, but later that day, thousands of LGBTQ people would be throwing a pride parade and the church I was going to would be in the parade, expressing the love they have for everyone in the community.
There might be parade protesters, but there was certain to be more volunteers participating in making a wall to block out those negative voices. It would be hard to imagine this happening twenty years ago when I lived in Chicago as a college student.
As I got to the church, Greg helped me get to the door. I usually don’t like shaking drivers’ hands, as I think it’s kind of weird and I don’t like such contact anyway. But Greg was a pretty awesome dude and I just wanted to thank him for giving me a good start to the day.