From the moment I was inspired to make the now much-maligned mixed tape for Will, I intended for him to unwrap it during a recording. Towards the end of the tape’s 10-month creation period, Jon revealed to us that he wished to continue on permanently as a co-host (yay!). As I anticipated the completion of Will’s tape, I found myself wishing to surprise Jon with something as well, so that he could be included in the recorded gift-opening. But what could I give a guy who seemed to already have all the fun nostalgic stuff he could ever want?
Jon’s and my discovery of having truck-driving dads in common led to a discussion one time about trucker music, and as Jon is familiar with a great many things from popular culture past and present, I was unsurprised to learn that he was very familiar with and fond of that genre. To my absolute delight I also learned that there were two trucker albums in particular that I happened to own that he did not (!), and so the question of what I could give him was easily answered.
One of the albums, Big Rig Hits, is a treasure from my youth. It belonged to my father and was part of the soundtrack of my early childhood. It contains what is likely the most famous trucker song— “Convoy” by C.W. McCall— plus a variety of other gems, including “The White Knight“ by Cledus Maggard and the Citizen’s Band. The latter song is originally from an LP with the same title and by the same artist, a copy of which was found and gifted to me by my indulgent husband just last year.
Armed with a functioning turntable and cassette deck and having just freshly produced Will’s mixed tape, I recorded the two trucker albums onto a blank tape that I conveniently possessed, and shipped it off to Jon. (Actually, I must confess here that I initially recorded Big Rig Hits twice— once on each side, for a loop!— before it occurred to me that the other album would make an excellent B-side.) I gave Jon instructions to let me know when it arrived, and to refrain from opening the inner package until I gave the all-clear. Will already had his package with similar instructions, as I was able to plant it in his recording room in person during a late August visit with him and his family.
On September 8, 2022, during our Facebook Live recording, Will and Jon each opened their respective packages. It didn’t even matter to me how they reacted, or how they actually felt about the gifts (within reason, of course; I’d probably have felt a little bummed if either of them simply said, “Oh… how nice. Thanks.”). My level of happy from finally creating and delivering them was just so high. Jon gave me a warning that he can’t fake a reaction to a gift he doesn’t like, and Will just dove right in to unwrapping. Any further description I might give here can’t do justice to the actual event (which can be viewed here), but suffice it to say that both of their reactions brought me great joy, especially Jon’s, which was over the top. [See what I did there? Over The Top, another 1980s trucker reference!] His initial warning about not being able to fake a reaction to a gift made his actual reaction infinitely more delightful, and that experience is now one of my favorite moments from our show.