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If They Had the Words I Could Tell to You

November 1, 2014

“Combed my hair in a thousand ways
But it came out looking just the same
Daddy Son said, Son Dad, you better see the world
I wouldn’t blame if you wanted to leave”

– Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, from Every Picture Tells a Story,
with generational adaptation here at home

A couple of weeks ago, with my son’s constant and kind support on display once again:

Me: “I tell myself that I can do whatever I want. The heck with all of this. Why, I could move to Tokyo.”

Son: Pleased to hear me talk like this and liking the way the conversation is going, “Absolutely you could, Dad. Move to Tokyo.”

But anyone can move to Tokyo. People do it every day. I have no interest whatsoever of living in Tokyo. It was simply the first far-out thing that came to mind. So, to make the real point of the discussion we were having and to push the possibilities to the unimaginable, I raised the ante:

Me: “I could even get rid of the Volvo. I’ll stop driving it altogether and buy a Tesla or a Chevy Volt for my long daily commute.”

Son: “Wait just a minute. This is silly talk. Let’s not get carried away with this, Dad. Slow down over there.”


Years ago, my firm tried to transfer me to Tokyo. I studied Japanese language, subscribed to papers such as The Nikkei Weekly and The Asian WSJ. We even hosted a Japanese student whose father, a JAL pilot, was transferred back to Japan a few months before she could complete her senior year in the local high school. The end of the story was a transfer to San Francisco, instead.

The Volvo’s been getting me around for more than 9,900 days. That adds up to a lot of years. It’s been as reliable as anyone could ever expect. More so.

The Volvo still runs well. With rare exception, I rev it up each weekday for a long commute over awful freeways with grueling stop and go driving conditions. Day in and day out. It isn’t the quiet and smooth ride that it once was, but never doubt that it will bring me home.

But it’s just a car, I tell myself. Why do I need to hold on to it? It’s just a car. I’ve known people who gave up much more than a car. A clear-cut exchange of the deepest of loyal love and family for something else that caught their attention. Salt of the earth for rainbows. Why then can’t I just stop all this and find something new?


Thank you, my cool cousin, N, for the introduction to Rod Stewart. Rod’s 1971 album, “Every Picture Tells a Story,” is one of the very finest of the time. From start to finish, it’s rich with wonderful instruments, rhythms, and the imagery of young men’s energy and aspirations. Terrific songs from Rod and Ronnie, as well as covers of songs by Dylan, Elvis, The Temptations and Tim Hardin. And of course, there’s Rod’s distinctive young voice. Combine it with Maggie Bell’s background vocals on the title song and you have Rock n’ Roll triumph. After all these years, it’s still an “island album” for me.


I told a friend that I was thinking of buying a plug-in car that qualified for the Bay Area’s car pool lanes and gets great gas mileage. He knows all about cars and the business of selling and buying cars. He told me that the first thing I need to acknowledge is that no matter what car I would buy, from the high-end models to the true commuter cars, it will never last as long as the Volvo. None of these new technologies will ever give me the same overall experience that I’ve had with the Volvo. They just don’t and won’t make them like that anymore. I agree with him thinking about the decision I made all those years ago and the uneasiness that goes with the possibility that he is right about banking hopes on the future.

And if they had the words I could tell to you
To help you on your way down the road
I couldn’t quote you no Dickens, Shelley or Keats
‘Cause it’s all been said before
Make the best out of the bad, just laugh it off
You didn’t have to come here anyway
So remember, every picture tells a story don’t it

Yes it does, Rod.


Today’s odometer. All pretty good, except the squeaky clutch pedal annoys me. Plus, I’m a little concerned about the engine pinging. Within the next week or two, I’ll have it in the shop for an oil change and inspection for trouble under the hood. Been day dreaming about a plug-in car lately.

  1. Man, you have to hit the half million mark. 🙂 –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Why can’t you stop? “cause it’s NOT just a car 🙂
    You’ll know when it’s right to move on.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well Laurie, that’s all part of it. It’s just a car, but then it isn’t. And that’s what creates the consternation.


  3. Well, Rod Stewart and Maggie May. Oh boy. I remember sitting at a stop light a few years ago and a carload of boys pulled up blasting Maggie May (why would this be? Shouldn’t they have been listening to Jay-Z? Whatever.) I can’t even tell you the intensity of my sense of deja vu. How I loved this album….still do….I can hear the mandolin right now.


    • Barbara – that’s a great image. Bully for you that you were there to experience. There was a time when boys blasting Rod Stewart and the Faces from the car stereo was commonplace. It would be fun to see that once again, albeit perhaps a little disorienting at first.


  4. Move to Tokyo and bring the Volvo with you


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