Happy Song

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Mine comes from early childhood, in the early 1980s. I remember hearing it on the radio quite often when I was home with my mother helping her bake bread (she used to let me poke holes in the dough, then eat little bits of it).

I’m not sure if I particularly liked the song at that age. I probably didn’t understand it, but it stuck in my mind.

Years later, when I was 21, my then-boyfriend and I were hitchhiking back home to Lake Louise from Banff.

We were on the exit ramp. It was dusk.


An SUV pulled up and a guy jumped out and came around to the back door to move some things aside and let us in. I took the back seat while my boyfriend took the front. The driver said, “Hello! Where are you going?” We told him.

“Let’s go, I’m in a hurry!” We were thankful to have a ride at that time of evening in the middle of the Rocky Mountains in February.

On our way, we learned his name was Al.

“Crazy Al, they call me,” he says.

Crazy Al loved to talk, and at that time, the term conspiracy theory kept coming to my mind as he talked. I was too young, naïve, and ignorant to grasp what he was saying though.

My boyfriend had a harder time understanding him than I did, for his English level required slower, simpler speech, and every few minutes I had to explain to him what Crazy Al was saying.

Near the end of the 45-minute trip to Lake Louise, as we approached the exit ramp, Crazy Al blurts out, “Do you want to go four-by-fouring?”

Me: “Uh, right now?” I thought he was in a hurry.

Al: “Sure!”

I explain to my boyfriend what four-by-fouring means, and while we are discussing our decision, Al turns off the exit ramp in the opposite direction of the village.

“Well, okay,” we resigned to the trip, since he’d made the turn already.

“I sing this song when I’m feeling down. It’s the greatest song ever written.”


He makes another turn down a gravel road and hits play on the CD player. Out blasts this song from my childhood; Matthew Wilder’s “Break My Stride.”

Crazy Al turns the light on in the cab of the car so we can see each other.

We’re speeding through the woods and my boyfriend and I share a look of more than caution, but rather of potential danger.

Crazy Al keeps talking loudly over the blasting music and the bumpy road – bumpity-bump, bumpty-bump – we’re flying now.

My boyfriend and I lean close and speak, discuss the possibility that this guy may actually be crazy and is taking us to the woods with sinister intentions.

We then make a quick, modest plan of escape if we have to, then we immediately put those thoughts aside and put our attention back to Al, and let go and enjoyed the ride.


The song stops – Al hits repeat and it plays again.

We’re driving, he’s talking and singing, we’re laughing. Song stops, repeat again… a moment later, we blast out of the woods and are back onto the main road.

Thirty seconds later, we see the village and my boyfriend and I, with smiles on our faces, breathe relief and gratitude for meeting Crazy Al and getting a most memorable (and ultimately safe) ride home.

We saw Crazy Al on at least two more occasions. Once, while on a tour bus in Banff when our bus had a minor accident with a car.

The bus company called the taxi company to bring us to our intended destination, and the first cab driver to arrive was Crazy Al.

We spotted him another time making a speech to some people in the town – about what I don’t recall. Crazy Al seemed to be everywhere.

If I hadn’t met Crazy Al and gone on that drive in the woods, I might not have my happy song.

What’s your happy song? 



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