Karajan, My Wayward Son

I’m still working on my next Lebrain Le-Rocks post, as it is competing with another post I’ve almost completed, so we’ll let this little musing stand for this afternoon’s edification…


We travelled to my lovely wife’s folks’ place yesterday for Thanksgiving dinner. This is always an awesome thing involving much family, food, and fun.

It was a beautiful day, crisp and clear fall air and bright sunshine making the changing tree leaves glow. Plus, our surrounding landscape for the trip is beautiful from start to finish. Perfect day, I thought, for a little bit of classical music for the drive south.

I selected my 2CD set of Herbert Von Karajan called The Legend, a compilation of tracks by varying composers. I was thinking, quite rightly, that this would be a brilliant companion on the drive. Added bonus: classical music is very good for your mind, and I’m all for boosting our kids’ already burgeoning creativites.

Anyway, we got rolling down the highway and I plugged in the first disc. Ah, Ravel’s Boléro. That lilting eastern European melody line, that martial snare drum. A lovely way to drift through the day… Except it wasn’t. The dynamics of the recording are fine, of course, but the quiet bits are really quiet, and the loud bits are just about right for highway driving.

Honestly, my lovely wife’s Subaru is a fantastic car. It handles like a dream, gives great gas mileage, and is as reliable as any car could ever be. But, as it turns out, it has quite a bit of interior cabin noise on the highway, which I’d never noticed before, so we only heard about half of this first track. I turned it up, but as the track built up in volume I had to keep turning it down again. And again. Then back up again for a quiet bit…

Needless to say, by the time the second track, Debussy’s Prélude À L’Après-Midi D’Un Faune rolled around, I was shutting the damn thing off. It was too distracting to have to adjust the volume all the time. My lovely wife’s car on the highway, as it turns out, is built for rock and roll, or anything other than classical that stays within a more narrow, louder range of volume.

Classical did not turn out to be the relaxing, wonderful thing I was hoping would be on this trip. I blame the Subaru, which is otherwise a completely brilliant vehicle. Shame, too, as I was really looking forward to having this set as a soundtrack to our idyllic drive through escarpment beauty.


NB: I’ll be bringing my own Subaru (yes, we own two of them) to Taranna when Mike and I go on our annual record shoppe raid, so we’ll see if it has the same interior noise problem. I don’t recall any such issue at highway speeds, but we’ll find out!

* For those who are interested, I have already covered this Von Karajan set here.

30 thoughts on “Karajan, My Wayward Son

  1. Phillip Helbig says:

    “Something nice about getting close to 1000 kms per tank.”

    I routinely get that, less than 4 litres for 100 kms, or more than 60 mpg. This is an estate car (station wagon) with 5 doors. OK, it is not huge, and has only 69 horsepower, but that is why it gets good mileage. It has a top speed of 190 km/h (about 120 mph), and I routinely drive it at full throttle. Approaching 300,000 km now (200,000 miles). Even on the Autobahn, it is rare that one can actually drive faster for a substantial length of time.

    This is a car from 2004, so has nothing to do with the current Dieselgate. It really does get this good mileage (and correspondingly low emissions). (Dieselgate wouldn’t have happened had not many people believed that they could drive an SUV and get the same mileage as a compact car. Yes, it was dishonest (not only VW, but other makers were involved as well—or do you think they really get the same mileage without any tricks?), but the rules were lax, what rules there were were not enforced, and so on.)


    1. boppinsblog says:

      I hate to sound all preachy, but the issue is not the car makers. It is the government.
      We could have had hydrogen cars, electric cars, zero emmission cars 30 years ago.
      But, the governments in North America want us to continue to rely on oil.
      Especially the Bush family. They still make their billions in oil.

      The emission test is a complete scam in Ontario. Forcing people of low income to keep pumping thousands of dollars into old beaters to meet current standards. #taxgrab


        1. boppinsblog says:


          VW did cheat and got caught.

          They fudged the emmission results to seem a bit cleaner.

          If they had converted the cars to.pass emission instead, the cars woukd have been heavier, and worse on fuel mileage.

          In my opinion, they saved the world billions of gallons of crude oil, so if you look at the big picture, we are further ahead even though what they did was deceitful and wrong.


  2. jhubner73 says:

    Subaru makes a damn fine car. I’ve considered and Outback or Forester at several points in the last few years, and may get one yet.

    As far as the classical music goes, I understand. I think it takes a very particular piece for a road trip. Too many dynamics can make for a lot of turning up and turning down. I think Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ is a solid fall road trip listen, personally. Either way, you get an ‘A’ for effort here. Sounds like a lovely way to spend the holiday(Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday.)

    Hope it was a great one besides the musical setback.


    1. keepsmealive says:

      They are a mighty damn fine car indeed. I have a Legacy wagon and will drive it until it falls apart. Fantastic. My lovely wife’s is a little Impreza hatchback. I drove the Forester as a loaner car one time… very very nice, but I’m a little tall for the cabin, even with the seat all the way down. It was OK, but a little tight… Never driven an Outback, but I know many people who love theirs…

      Vivaldi is a good call, maybe I’ll bring that CD next time! I appreciate the A for effort, I really thought it would be perfect for the drive! And yup, it was a brilliant holiday. We hung out with all the family, ate waaaaay too much food, and loved every minute of it. Your Thanksgiving is coming up too, eh? Wish we could do ours all over again…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. jhubner73 says:

        Last Thursday in November. I’m taking the whole week off. I have for the last few years. I just love hosting the family and eating till I regret it, only to make a turkey sandwich at 11pm.

        I would never have guessed a Forester wouldn’t have enough leg room. I’ve never been in one, just admired their quirkiness from afar.


        1. keepsmealive says:

          Wow, that’s deep into November! Glad you get to take time with the family – that’s the best bit!

          Actually it was the headroom in the Forester, not the legs. Maybe it’s ‘cos it was a sunroof model… Definitely recommend popping into a dealer and driving one. Just to try it. They’re definitely lovely!


        1. keepsmealive says:

          Interesting. Maybe they add a subwoofer to try to make up for other things about the car? I dunno, I’ve never owned a Pontiac. I had a Grand Am as a loaner car one time and couldn’t wait to give it back.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. mikeladano says:

            It was a special stereo package that they offered. Heh, the second one came with a free (OOOOOH!) bluetooth earphone and mic set! Actual retail value, about $10.


  3. boppinsblog says:

    I hear Subaru owners can be as quirky as the car itself.


    I hope you brought along alternative (not necessarily the genre) music.

    P.S. Just wait until the young ‘uns are teens. They will not be into your music, and will rebel along with your wife in a mutiny. You will walk the plank to the sounds of awful pop music drivel.


    1. keepsmealive says:

      Quirky? Some of us are downright crazy! Haha I know people like to say it’s some sort of Subaru cult, or some such crap, but it’s just a solid reliable car, and I think we all want that. Added bonus: drive one on a shitty winter’s day and feel the difference the full-time AWD makes! 🙂

      We did have a ton of alternative options for tunes, but funnily enough, we didn’t play anything. We just let the landscape go by and talked together. That was nice too.

      When they’re teens, they can listen to whatever they like. I’m cool with it, so long as every now and then we play Dad’s Slayer CD…


      1. boppinsblog says:

        My brother has a Subaru and he loves it.

        I like my diesel Jettas too much to switch. Something nice about getting close to 1000 kms per tank. Also the stereo sounds pretty good too. No AWD but I believe in winter tires so we stay pretty safe.

        On long trips we used to do the I spy and punch buggy games.

        As for teens, the stations that play pop have roughly 20 songs in rotation, on repeat. It’s awesome hearing the same autotuners and cry babies on the way to your destination, and then again on the way home.


        1. keepsmealive says:

          Diesel, whoa. That’s great mileage. Do you find the diesel smell inside your car, or is it only the stank we get when we drive behind you? 🙂

          We put snow tires on our Subarus too – that’s probably like cheating, but why not have every advantage?

          We definitely play road games like that. The kids a 7 and 5, perfect age for that stuff. We also make up stories (tall tales) and laugh our heads off.

          That radio stuff sounds like what they play at work. I’ll be well immune by then…


          1. boppinsblog says:

            I’m not as bad as some. They convert their cars to run on the grease from restaurants and basically drive for next to nothing.

            We found the best road trip music was Stompin’ Tom. Especially on road trips outside of Canada. His songs are so singable.

            I have never tried this, but I bet Weird Al would be a real hit with the kids.


            1. keepsmealive says:

              That just sounds… nasty. Your car would smell like Burger King!

              Stompin’ Tom would be great. Our kids like Jake Bugg, still. And my daughter’s becoming a big fan of Pink Floyd, and they both think CCR is hilarious, especially when Daddy sings “there’s a bathroom on the right…”

              They might like Weird Al, but I doubt they’d get the original song references… would it still be as good, then? Would Weird Al just be Weird if you didn’t know they were parodies of other songs?


              1. boppinsblog says:

                I knew some of his tunes but went on a binge on Youtube

                He is funny and awesome. A ton of great stuff.

                I think your kids would love him.

                Plus his music is kid friendly.

                Ask James. I am sure he will confirm how awesome he is.


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