Roads, highways, journeys begun, and what lies at the end of the road, and how to make it through the trip -- all ideas which inspire songwriters and musicians. Writers, as well -- Phil and Carol White, who wrote "Live Your Road Trip Dream: Travel for a year for the cost of staying home," will be joining Gather for a live chat on Wednesday evening.
When I mentioned to host Julia Schrenkler of Minnesota Public Radio that perhaps she might start a thread on songs of the road, she tossed the idea back to me. So, here are several of my favorite songs mentioning roads, highways, and journeys. Add your own in the comments, if you'd like, and tell what you like about them.
Two songs from Tish Hinojosa make the top of my list. Taos to Tennessee, is a lovely and poetic evocation of change and hope, a song Hinojosa recorded first on a self released cassette that became the basis of her first album. New Mexico, Texas, Europe, and points between have figured in Hinojosa's career and she's written many fine songs with roads and travel framing her ideas. The first generation Mexican American musician, who writes and sings in both English and Spanish has been influenced by both sides of her heritage in her music. Bob Dylan is one whose music she mentions, and has said that God's Own Open Road from her album Dreaming from the Labyrinth may be the one of her songs that shows that influence most clearly.
Cathie Ryan is first generation also: her parents emigrated from Ireland. Ryan is a fine songwriter, and a gifted song catcher, as well. Somewhere along the Road, by Rick Kemp, is a song about the persistence of hope, love, and connection, and it's an expression of that idea that Ryan liked so well she called her third album after it.
Caroline Herring, a Mississippi native, often drove the physical road she writes about in Delta Highway. In her song she uses landscape and weather to create images of change and reflection as she travels.
For a really fast paced road song, take a listen to Rhonda Vincent's Bluegrass Express. It's fun, it's funny, it's true to life on the road, and filled with great picking and singing.
There are, of course, loads of other great songs about the road, its mysteries, connections, and changes. Hinojosa's Louisiana Road Song is one, there's Caroline Herring's Trace and Kathy Mattea's take on Coal Tattoo and The Coming of the Roads, Lee Ann Womack's Little Past Little Rock, Mary Black's Bless the Road That Carries You, Carrie Newcomer's Where You Been, and the list goes on. What are ones you remember? Join in the conversation....
Kerry Dexter, Music Correspondent Kerry's credits include VH1, CMT, the folk music magazine Dirty Linen, Strings, The Encyclopedia of Ireland and the Americas, and The MusicHound Guides. She also writes about the arts and creative practice at Music Road and contributes to Fred Bals' Series of Tubes.