Taylor and Dad

Taylor Leddin, right, with dad, Mike, and cousin, Mitch, on a family trip to Wisconsin Dells.

A few nights ago, I was listening to the radio while driving home. Through the speaker, I heard a voice that took me back to high school.

This was the voice of radio personality Casey Kasem and it was a replay of the Top 40 hits from that date in 1980.

While I was in high school long after Kasem’s live Top 40 days, I would hear replays in my dad’s car almost every Saturday morning as we listened to Sirius XM’s ‘70s on 7. Whether we were grabbing bagels from Panera or going to visit my grandpa, that station was always playing.

It became a special part of my upbringing and introduction of music, just as it had for my dad when he heard the original broadcasts in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

We’d take guesses of what the next song would be based on Kasem’s description and general knowledge of the era. During the peak of my John Travolta fan phase, I always loved the late ‘70s as there was a good chance of hearing something from the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack.

Because of our shared taste in music and a very similar sense of humor, my dad and I have always hit it off and I count him as one of my closest friends. Though we don’t share Saturday mornings like we used to, we still have our own rapport.

For his 60th birthday, I made him a Spotify playlist of 60 songs that remind me of him. This is a collection of tracks heard on ‘70s on 7, as well as selections from the many one-hit-wonder collections he had on CD. If you care to hear it, search “Mike Leddin Hits 6-0” on Spotify.

Despite “Cats in the Cradle” being a track of that playlist, those lyrics couldn’t be further from our father-kid relationship.

This playlist served as something of a soundtrack to my life, as it took me through many years of riding in my dad’s car; starting as a little kid in the backseat up to getting promoted to shotgun.

Much like dad, I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas music. I wouldn’t say I hate it, but I don’t exactly go out of my way to listen to it.

However, around this time of year I’m always wanting to listen to certain selections from a CD my dad used to have called “Stars Come Out for Christmas: Vol. 1.” This is exactly what it sounds like, different well-known groups or artists taking a stab at holiday classics.

To this day, my favorite versions of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “Sleigh Ride” are by the Commodores and my favorite version of “Jingle Bell Rock” is by Stephen Bishop.

Those songs remind me of breaking out all of the Christmas decorations from the crawl space and decking the halls of the Leddins’ former home.

So much has changed since those days, but the music will remain a constant staple of joy and memory.

Regardless of the changes, my dad and I still live by Kasem’s closing broadcast words of “keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”

Taylor Leddin is the Life editor at the Daily Journal and is the editor of Lifestyles of Kankakee County. Her column, “A Taylor-Made Life,” publishes every Saturday in the Life section. She can be contacted by phone 815-937-3369, email tleddin@daily-journal.com or via Twitter @leddinlife.