Thursday, June 1, 2023


Road Signs – The good old days?

Road Signs

By Mike Sokol

So, when was the best music recorded by the best artists and what kind of foods do you gravitate to? Tell me the year you were born and what state you grew up in during your teenage years, and I can probably venture a pretty good guess. To make an educated guess at your music tastes all I have to do is add 14 to the year you were born, and look at the top 100 songs charting that year, and voila… So let’s take my birth year of 1954, add 14 to get 1968. That’s the year I “discovered” music – around the age of 14, as it were.  
“Led Zeppelin I” was released in 1968, followed by “Led Zeppelin II” in 1969. And for me, at least, those were two of the greatest albums of all time. This was soon followed by “Santana – Abraxas” in 1970, and “Deep Purple – Machine Head” in 1972, both on my desert play list. And don’t get me started on Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” in 1973, which I think is arguably the greatest concept album of all time. You could say that 1968 to the mid-’70s were my musical “formative years.” No music before or after that time period moves me quite as emotionally. 
I’ll bet  the same is true for you. Think of a song from your high school or college years. Pretty great stuff, isn’t it? Now if your 14-22 age span (high school and college years) was in the ’80s, you’ll think that the ’80s had the best music – with a A Flock of Seagulls starting that era. Or maybe it was Nirvana in the ’90s. Or how about NSYNC along with Britney Spears in the 2000’s. Gasp! How can every different decade be the best? Well, music is a highly personal thing, so when you discovered it during that impressionable age range of 14 to 22, it was imprinted on your brain as “comfort music.”
The same thing happens with food at an even younger age. The idea of comfort food is being touted in high-end restaurants, and it’s simply a re-hashing (pun intended) of the foods you grew up with in an 8-18 age span. So if you grew up in Maryland during your preteen/high school years, as I did, then there’s nothing better than Maryland Blue Crab from the Chesapeake Bay, with a LOT of Old Bay seasoning.
My mom also specialized in Campbell’s Pork ‘n Beans with cut-up hot dogs in it. So guess what? I still like that super-simple meal. And I recently rediscovered Pickle and Pimento Loaf (bologna with the condiments baked right in), which my mom would pack in my lunch for special occasions. So I still love P&P loaf on white bread with mayonnaise. I’ll bet if you think about it you’ll find that some meals your parents made for you when you were maybe 10 or 12 years old are still secret favorites of yours. Yes, we all develop adult tastes for fancy food later, but I still get excited for mac and cheese.
I knew all of this when we began raising our own children, so my wife and I decided to expose them to as many different food and music experiences as possible beginning in their preteen years. They had access to my entire music collection by the time they turned 12 years old, so AC/DC is a favorite band of theirs, and John Bonham from Led Zeppelin is absolutely their favorite drummer.
As far as food goes, my boys had a best friend in grade school from India, whose mom was a fantastic cook. At first she only served them pizza when my kids came to their house to play games with her son. But my sons soon convinced her they wanted to try real Indian food. Sure enough, they now love it in their mid-20’s, as well as the Maryland Blue Crabs we taught them how to pick, the Baked Macaroni that my wife makes for all family gatherings, the Sushi they go wild over after I started taking them to Japanese restaurants, and the grilled steaks I’m pretty good at making on my Weber Grill, the wedding present my own wife bought me soon after we were married.
What does this mean for you? Well, if you have kids, grandkids or even great-grandchildren in their preteen through college formative years, it’s time to show them the great music you grew up with, the great foods you know how to make or enjoy in a restaurant, and the great experiences you can get while camping with them.  Memories of experiences in their preteen through college years will last them a lifetime and can’t easily be topped by the latest fad.
So don’t just buy your grandkids some new gadget – take them somewhere you think is great. Maybe it’s fishing. How about taking them camping around Nashville to hear some of the greatest musicians in the country? Maybe teach them how to make the best spaghetti sauce you’ve ever tasted. It’s really as simple as listening to the Beach Boys or Boston along with them (which all my boys think are GREAT, by the way). But don’t just phone it in … actually DO IT. You and your descendants will be glad you did.
Then the “Good” old days will become the “Great” old days.
Let’s play safe out there….
Copyright Mike Sokol 2018 – All Rights Reserved

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40 years in the industry. Visit for more electrical safety tips. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.



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Sue Gull
4 years ago

Born in 1954 as well in berbs of Detroit. You hit it on the nail with your list and I went and saw most in live concerts around the Detroit area. Dark side of the moon was preformed in Ann Arbor, MI..One of the best concerts I saw back in the day and there were many. Take a ride in a Corvair whenever you get the chance as we love to drive ours as much as grand kids..The “60’s” were the best!

Ron Mann
4 years ago

Put Grandkids in a old Corvair Van, turn on Beach Boys tapes, head for the Dairy Queen!!
Life is good???

4 years ago

I like most genres of music but my all time favourite song is Hallelujah by the late Leonard Cohen.

RV Staff
4 years ago
Reply to  Marilyn

Same here, Marilyn! Especially performed “Live in London” — gives me chills! at

4 years ago

Born in 1946, liked big band music that my parents listened (and danced) to. In high school got big into folk, protest songs from the 30’s, and classical. Most of my record collection was 78s from the Salvation Army. I thought Elvis worthless, and then the Beatles ruined music. Now I like just about everything, even Rap is getting more musical.

4 years ago

Trickle charger. I use a solar panel to keep my batteries charged up. No hook ups available. Starter battery uses a device to rob a small amount of charge from the house batteries to keep it charged.

Elaine Ashton
4 years ago

So what about an old lady of 79 1/2 and I do the driving of our 30ft 5th wheel … and I like all kinds of music — was born in 1939 in Baltimore — never liked the crabs — too spicy but I sure do miss Ocean City and Wildwood New Jersey and songs we heard on the boardwalk there.

Tommy Molnar
4 years ago

Born in 1946, I started ‘enjoying’ music by Sinatra, Martin and the rest because that’s what my folks listened to on the radio. But, my rock and roll love began the day Ricky Nelson sang his first song on the TV show “Ozzie & Harriet”. Hooked from then on. I STILL love R&R but have adopted many other genre’s like Country & Western, Smooth Jazz, New Age, 70’s and 80’s, Hair Bands, you name it. Depends on what I’m doing or where we’re headed on the road.

I was about to dump my non-working old Sansui 9090 stereo when I saw an ad for a place that fixed “vintage stereo equipment”. My stuff, vintage? Boy, I AM getting old! Anyway, I took it to this guy who put it back into the same shape I bought it in (probably mid-70s) and now it sits in my shop hooked to my Sirius satellite radio. And when I blast it to a great song – IT ROCKS! Ha.

Oh, and I still love Dean Martin, who my wife’s best friend says is the only guy who sings in cursive . . . .

Jeff Arthur
4 years ago

Odd for me as I’m sick of 97% of the music that was 1975. And I loved Zep back when I was 17 but now not at all. Some music from the past that I didn’t like I now do like. Currently theirs so much current great music out there. Maybe you should stop listening to oldies radio / classic rock stations. Americana is the best place to be rejuvenated with good fresh music as the diversity of it has something for nearly everyone : )

Mike Sokol
4 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Arthur

So what do you listen to now? I’m actually getting into Lady Ga Ga lately, which I thought I would never like. My students and I just mixed a live show of 40’s big band tunes, and it was really cool. Now I’m humming Makin’ Whoopee…

So much music, so little time…

Old Prospector
4 years ago

Sorry, in my case as well as my children, you’d be totally wrong in all cases. I was born in 1950, and I was raised up from Babyhood on old time Country & Western, with old songs of the South including the old time Slave songs and the only thing I learned to like was the oldies but goodies of the late fifties and early sixties. I absolutely hated the later songs of the late 1960’s and later Era’s. and I grew up on Southern and Southwestern along with Texas and Tex-Mex style food. And also my children were raised with the same type of music and food as well. none of them like the more modern junk you and the younger generations try to claim is music.

Mike Sokol
4 years ago
Reply to  Old Prospector

You’re making my point. We tend to like the music and food we grew up with. So if your primary exposure to music when you were young was 50’s Country & Western, then that’s what you’ll tend to like when you’re older. My wife grew up listening to marching bands, and played flute and fife in numerous parades and summer concerts, so brass bands and the fife part of Stars and Stripes almost makes her cry. On the other hand I think that Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love is a romantic ballad. You think that Old Songs of the South are great. Guess what? We’re all right…

4 years ago
Reply to  Old Prospector

I agree..I also am from that time period and grew up on C&W since where I lived in Wyoming,newer music was always a little late showing up. It was venison and fish and occasional beef for us kids.No fancy cafes or fast food.

Mike Sokol
4 years ago
Reply to  Booneyrat

As a side note, my grandfather and uncle both played accordion and would perform polkas and Hungarian Czardas for us kids when I was maybe 8 years old. I later picked up the accordion myself and can still play a bit. Even though I sometimes mix symphony orchestras at outside concerts for up to 40,000 people, I still get excited to hear a polka.

And yes, my grandmother would make me chow-chow relish, which I still love. My mom refused to let us kids try blood pudding, so I missed out on that…

Mike Sokol
4 years ago

I got so hungry writing it that I just took my wife out to the Stadium Tavern for a dozen crabs. I need a Maryland Crab emoji…

4 years ago

Great article! Thanks, Mike.

Angela Krause
4 years ago

’80s pop rock! Especially British pop.

Mike Sokol
4 years ago
Reply to  Angela Krause

Who’s your favorite artist of that decade?

Angela Krause
4 years ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

I will always be a U2 fan. But I loved Foreigner, Lover Boy, Heart, Yes, Moody Blues, OMD, Howard Jones, Mister Mister, Talking Heads, as well. Oingo Boingo’s Dead Man’s Party is one of my all-time favorite songs. So many more I couldn’t possibly list them all. I love it when I’m listening to the radio and they play a song from then that I haven’t heard since the 80s that I all but forgot about. I love singing along, dancing like I’m at a bar in college at 20 years old, and reminiscing.

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