It’s a glorious sunny day. The sunroof is open, I’ve got my shades on and the warm breeze gently tosses my hair as I cruise along the street. The radio is turned up, and I’m belting out the words because I know them by heart. Head bobbing to the beat, I slow for a traffic signal.
A couple of youngsters in the car next to me are staring. At me. Are they even old enough to be driving? A quick glance when the light turns green confirms they really are staring and laughing at me.
I look in the mirror to see what’s so funny. Hair blown sideways? Food in my teeth? Something hanging out of the car door? Nothing seems amiss.
Then it hits me.
What did those kids see when they looked my way? Obviously, they didn’t see me how I was feeling - young, carefree and, admittedly kind of cool. They saw somebody old enough to be their mom, maybe even their grandmother, rocking out like a schoolgirl. I laugh out loud, sing with even greater gusto and finger-drum on my steering wheel for good measure.
This scene has happened more than once. You’ve experienced it, too, right? I am totally okay with it and relish the fact that music can take me back to a time when I really was all I felt in that scene.
I love the music of my 70’s generation, and I listen to it often. One of the era’s bands was England Dan and John Ford Coley. “Love is the Answer.” “Nights are Forever without You.” “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight.” “We’ll Never Have to Say Goodbye Again.” Ah, the soundtrack of my youth.
Now for the news: John Ford Coley is coming to Denton on June 10 for the unveiling of his square paver on the Denton Arts Walk of Fame! He will be in concert that same night in Lewisville.
“I am very honored. I went to the University of North Texas for 4 years. It’s nice to be included in this,” Coley tweeted on January 27 upon learning about his square paver on the Arts Walk of Fame.
England Dan and John Ford Coley were both Dallas boys. They met in high school in the 60s playing in garage bands, then regional bands, and eventually writing and performing as a duo. Their debut album in 1976 soared to the top. Together, they charted 40 pop singles, four of which were in the top 10, all in just four years. Their second album title nods to their Dallas roots: Dowdy Ferry Road.
England Dan was Dan Seals. After the duo split in 1980, Seals went on to enjoy success in country music. He passed away in 2009.
John Ford Coley’s career moved on too, as he continued writing music, touring, singing with music giants like Elton John, Fleetwood Mac and Vince Gill and producing music for Eddie Money and many others. He’s done some acting, written a book (Backstage Pass, 2013) and is just releasing a brand new album of original work, “Eclectic.”
Coley’s connection to Denton is the four years he spent at the University of North Texas. Already a classically trained musician on piano and guitar when he arrived in 1967, Coley originally had designs on a music degree, planning to mix jazz and his classical expertise into rock and roll. By graduation in 1971, he held a degree in English literature rather than music, and his rise to pop music culture stardom was well underway.
John Ford Coley will be in concert at Lewisville’s MCL Grand on Saturday night, June 10, at 8 p.m. The Denton Main Street Association planned the dedication of Coley’s square paver on our famous sidewalk to coincide with the Lewisville show date, partnering with concert producer Tim Phillips, who arranged Coley’s travel to accommodate both events in one trip from his Nashville home.
Coley’s square paver on the Arts Walk of Fame is on the north side of Hickory Street, near Steve’s Wine Bar, where refreshments, including a cash bar, and a meet-and-greet with Coley will follow the unveiling ceremony at 1 p.m. The event is free, open to the public and one lucky person will walk away with two complimentary tickets to the concert later that evening.
I saw John Ford Coley in concert some 20 years ago at the Bluebird Café in Nashville. Then and now, his voice conjures up the days of my youth when I really was cool, even to the kids in the next car over. But that was before I knew about Denton or his history at UNT. June 10th is going to be special.