There are some songs that never get removed from a time and place in your life. Maybe you’re grocery shopping and you hear, from that subliminal supermarket radio station, the song you danced to with your prom date in high school. Suddenly you remember your youth and you get teary-eyed. This is a story kind of like that, except it involves a fuckton of beer and The Outfield’s “Your Love.” And, instead of teary-eyed, I just get confused.
In high school, my friend Bean and I would go road tripping a lot. This involved getting a case of beer and some friends, going out on old Missouri country roads, and listening to music while shooting the shit for hours on end. On one particular night, we got hooked up with a friend I had known since the third grade. For the sake of this piece, we’ll call him Beverly.
Beverly invited us over to his place to drink some beer. When Bean and I got there, he was fighting with his girlfriend. We were there maybe fifteen minutes, watching tempers get exchanged while we remained uncomfortably silent, when Beverly grabbed a case of beer and invited us on a road trip in his car. Never people to pass up beer and a road trip, Bean and I agreed to go along. Bean sat shotgun while I sat in the backseat with a CD boombox. As we got out of city limits and onto county back roads, Beverly told me to put in The Outfield CD he had lying next to the boombox. “Your Love” was the first song to come on and I recognized it immediately, although I never knew who sang it. I could see Beverly’s smile as he told me to turn up the volume. He seemed like he had recovered from whatever mood he was in.
When the song was over, Beverly told me to start it over again. “Sure,” I said.
We rode out of St. Francois County to parts of Missouri I had never seen. Beverly seemed to know the way so I wasn’t worried. We passed by a sign along the road that read “Now Entering Madison County.”
“You know that movie The Bridges of Madison County?” Beverly asked. “Yeah, the one with Clint Eastwood?” “Well, that’s based on a true story.” I didn’t know much about The Bridges of Madison County, but I assumed it was just a love story between Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. “Yeah. Sometimes when cars pass over the bridges here, the headlights go out. That’s what happened in the movie. That’s how they died.” I didn’t realize there were supernatural elements to that story.
As we were passing over a bridge, everything went dark and the car stopped.
“See. This is what I’m talking about!” We all had a good laugh and Beverly put his headlights back on and drove forward.
“Play it again!” Beverly yelled back to me. At this point, “Your Love” had played maybe five or six times. We went down the road a little further and the headlights went off again but the car kept going at its normal speed.
“Hey Beverly. Cut it out, man.”
“It’s not me. It’s these bridges. That’s what I’m sayin’.”
“There’s no bridges around here, man.” Beverly continued to cut the lights off and on at random times while ordering me to replay “Your Love” every time it finished.
After he could tell we were not amused by the headlight stunt anymore, Beverly tried entertaining us by showing off his driving skills.
“I think I could be a NASCAR driver.”
“No. Really. Watch this shit!” Beverly put all his weight on the gas pedal and swerved with every curve on the road. We came upon a stop sign in the middle of nowhere, but Beverly knew it was coming and slowed down so he could turn. Just when we thought Beverly’s nightly NASCAR dreams were fulfilled, he put his foot back on the gas pedal and hauled ass farther down back roads.
“Play it again!”
The next thing I remember, Bean and I were looking for Beverly.
Somewhere along Route Z, Beverly had driven off the road, into a ditch. He must have known it was going to happen, though, because he had opened the driver’s side door and leapt from the vehicle before it landed. Sitting inside a crashed car without a driver, Bean and I had to come to our senses. We crawled out, searched for Beverly, and found him, kneeling in the ditch with his head only a foot away from the front driver’s side tire. He was soaked in blood but giddy at the turn of events.
Bean and I left him there, at his request, and went walking down the county road to find a house. Eventually we found one, and when we knocked on the door, a man turned on his porch light and came out the front door. He had a tow truck and said he could pull us out of the ditch. The guy was good enough to drive us back to the site of the wreck, and we got Beverly’s car out without any trouble.
After that, everything is a blur. In the course of writing this, I contacted Bean to ask how we got home that night. I asked if Beverly drove us back or if the guy with the tow truck gave us a lift into town. “Sounds about right” was his reply back. I took that to mean he wasn’t sure himself. Either way, I know Bean and I got back to my house safely that night and although exhausted, we were still able to laugh at how ridiculous the night had been.
Cut to 2017, almost two decades later. “Your Love” is still an 80’s relic that gets airplay on throwback stations and supermarket sound systems. It’s a song that will never completely go away. It will never conjure up the same feelings for you as it does for me, however, but that’s a good thing. Songs are meant to be personal, and while I may not have danced with my prom date to “Your Love,” I certainly danced with death.
Charlie Nickles has held jobs painting car emblems, inspecting cereal, and making vegetable trays. He currently lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he writes, works, and beatboxes “Billie Jean” to unappreciative cats.