Sunday, September 15, 2013

Endless Roads

"The road that leads to nowhere for others might just be the road that leads to somewhere for you!”
Mehmet Murat ildan, writer

What is it about roads? I love paintings and photographs that show a road disappearing into a distance. Maybe it easily captures the imagination and instantly allows the viewer to imagine driving off down the road or possibly the opposite that a lost love is returning (see the Long Road post below).
It’s not just visional arts, but there are myriad songs that talk about the road from going down the road, hitting the road, lost on the road, people who live on the road. We are suckers for the promise of a new start whether coming or going down the road.
A dirt road in Brian Head, Utah that leads up the hill to 11,000 plus elevation for a breathtaking view

When I added up all the time in the last 11 years I spent driving back and forth to downtown Los Angeles, I frighteningly found that I sat behind the wheel for six straight months 24 hours a day. Until I calculated all that time, I simply accepted it because I refused to live in Los Angeles County proper with its crazy congestion, crime, and corruption. I adapted and enjoyed my alone time listening to the news, books, or music. I suspect that is why one of the reasons that I have a relatively large collection of music. The last time I checked it was 23,000 plus of songs. I could probably drive for a few weeks without worrying about running out of songs. My Misanthropic playlist includes 780 songs and will play for 2.1 days, according to iTunes. I am continually revising my numerous lists. The first few songs of The Misanthrope Songs list include:
·      Wrote a Song for Everyone by John Fogerty
·      Heart on a Strong by Jason Isbell
·      Checkout Time in Vegas by the Drive-By Truckers
·      Waiting for Dawn by Bobby Long
·      Long as I can see the Light by John Fogerty with Morning Jacket
·      Take Me to Tomorrow by Dave Matthews
·      Operator by Grateful Dead
·      Useless But Important Information by Jimmy Buffett
·      Call Me The Breeze by John Mayer
·      Different Days by Jason Isbell
·      Oldest Surfer on the Beach by Jimmy Buffett
·      Ripple by Grateful Dead
·      Happy Just to Be Like I am by Taj Mahal
·      He’s Gone by Grateful Dead
·      Time Passes Slowly by Bob Dylan
·      Goddamn Lonely Love by Drive-By Truckers
·      I Throw it All Away by Bob Dylan
·      Roll Another Number by Neil Young and another 761 songs

This little structure was built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. From this lookout you can see parts of Nevada and Arizona.
The view from the shack above

A few years ago when I drove alone from San Francisco back home, I navigated Highway 1 all the way. For some reason I felt my playlist of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young was apropos. After a practically tough day at the office, I used to listen to my Misanthropic Jazz list, but today it’s mostly played when writing or reading. Because of the recent deaths of people close to me (my dad and uncle), as well as a short story idea I keep puttering with I feel I have assembled a perfect list for the time being. A few songs from my jazz list include:
·      Star Dust by Joshua Redman
·      So Long Mr. T by Aki Takase
·      Let it Be by Joshua Redman
·      I Have Dreamed by Christian McBride
·      Solitude by Aki Takase
·      I Guess I’ll Have to Forget by Christian McBride
·      State of Mind by The Christian Jacob Trio
·      Left Along by Terence Blanchard
·      I Got it Bad and That Ain’t Good by Aki Takase
·      The Folks Who Live on the Hill by Joshua Redman
·      One for My Baby by Chris Botti
·      Melancolico by Stan Getz
·      Apres un reve by Arturo Sandoval
·      Don’t Explain by Dexter Gordon
·      Here’s That Rainy Day by Art Pepper
·      Fables of Faubus by Project Trio**
·      Fat Back and Greens by Regina Carter and Christian McBride
·      Slow Song for a Dog by Chris Thile & Edgar Meyer

One of the photos from my journey on Highway 1, all those years ago
I have a Coffee House play list with acoustic songs and another one title Bar Jazz with Sinatra, Nat Cole, Diana Krall, Dean Martin and many others. So, you can see why I got use to driving and sometimes didn’t mind it.

I have not created a playlist of songs that incorporate road, but a quick sort found dozens, but here are a few:
 ·      Wrong Side of the Road by Tom Waits
·      Winding Roads by Terence Blanchard
·      Rules of the Road by Nat Cole
·      Revelation Road by Shelby Lynne
·      Heaven’s Only Days Down the Road by Shelby Lynne
·      Old Dirt Road by John Lennon
·      Coming Down the Road by John Mellencamp
·      Love is a Long Road by Tom Petty
·      Lowside of the Road Tom Waits
·      One for My Baby (And one more for the road) by Frank Sinatra
·      The Long and Winding Road by The Beatles
·      Why Don’t We Do it in the Road by The Beatles
·      Road Ladies by Frank Zappa
·      Dark Road Annie Lennox
·      King of the Road by Dean Martin
·      Further On Up the Road by The Bank
·      On the Road Again by Willie Nelson, and I am sure hundreds more, but you get the idea.

Short city driving is certainly not my favorite and my little, redneck conservative city will eventually become known as the city of stoplights. I counted 12 traffic signals just going four miles and that does not include the stop signs. That kind of interruptive, stressful driving is only occasionally helped by music, so I try not to drive much in town.

It’s the long open road winding out to destinations unknown that stoke our imagination and keep us hopeful.

A wild flower along the road

Photographs by RJW

** "Fables of Faubus" is a song composed by jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus. One of Mingus' most explicitly political works, the song was written as a direct protest against Arkansas governor Orval E. Faubus, who in 1957 sent out the National Guard to prevent the integration of Little Rock Central High School by nine African American teenagers. Source: Wikipedia. I just discovered this when I was looking up the word Faubus for this piece.