Friday, April 13, 2012

Road Trippin'

There's something calming about a long stretch of road heading west...

Leaving Albuquerque for Arizona on I40 you see some cool, stereotypical southwest scenery, complete with painted mesas backstopped by blue sky and snow capped mountains mixed in with a whole lotta nothin.'  Country oldies and The Grateful Dead provide a great musical backdrop.

I'd spent the night before jamming with some old friends at a dusty VFW outside of Bernalillo.  The crowd was big and rowdy and my old friend's band was wound up tight. Charlie had a little too much too drink and kept turning his bass up too loud, but he was hitting all the notes and it was all good.

They called me up for one song and I ended up doing three sets with them. Hootin' and hollerin' Honky Tonk, 70's and 80's rock, cry in your beer country classics and anything else that struck our fancy. The bar was hot and almost suffocating. I sweated through my stetson in under an hour, making me wish I had brought my straw. It was only a little smoky. Don't know if people were smoking because technically it was a private establishment, or because it was New Mexico and nobody gives a damn.

I left hoarse, beer-soaked and bourbon buzzed, fingertips sore and high on life. I hadn't performed on stage in front of a big crowd in years. It was awesome. Moreso because I didn't have to break down the equipment and haul it home at the end of the night.

I love the southwest; scorpions, snakes, cowboys and indians and all.  And I've been over a good piece of it.  Some of my favorite traveling music includes The Doors, especially LA Woman and Morrison Hotel, The Last Waltz, and Neil Young.  The Dead is also an excellent road companion.

My favorite drives include I-70 heading East from Green River Utah, up and over the Rockies to Denver; Boulder Canyon to Nederland and on up to Estes Park via highway 7; I-40 from Albuquerque through Arizona, and I-10 going up the mountains, through Palm Springs and down into LA.  Driving across Wyoming can also be a peaceful relaxing ride, with perhaps some Lyle Lovett, Jayhawks, or Neil Young keeping you company.

What are your favorite drives and what do you listen to when you're on the road?


Ducky's here said...

Route 4 in southern Vermont or up the shore of Maine.
Especially in the fall.

I plug in the iPod and put it on shuffle. There's just about everything on it except rock or metal.
Shift from old timey to jazz to Arabic to Chinese classical to fado to Sean-nós to opera. I like the variety. But no Metallica, some sense of melody, harmony or a basic of music is required.

Silverfiddle said...

Fado? You're only the second American I've encountered who's into Brazilian torch songs...

Ducky's here said...

Actually, it's the Portuguese brand but I've got plenty of MPB. Love Marisa Monte.

Silverfiddle said...

I picked it up from Brazil, but it makes sense that it came from Portugal I guess..

Anonymous said...

Although I was born and raised in Michigan, I spent most of my adult live in New Mexico, Nevada and, Colorado. There are no sunsets that can compare to the sunsets in the South-West. When traveling, I always found some foot-tapping country music was best.

Fredd said...

I'm paralyzed with shock that the pinkos your Western Hero site is famous for attracting haven't excoriated you, Silver, for frivolously wasting gasoline in your hedonistic pursuits, sucking down obscene amounts of the precicous (yet evil) gasoline from Denver to Bernalillo (pronounced burr-na-LEE'-oh) for no other reason than you just wanted to (I am assuming you drove there and back, if you took a plane I could launch into another progressive diatribe similar to this one).

That, and belching every mile of the way and back noxious poisonous exhaust into everyone's atmosphere and contributing to our doom via your contribution to global warming.

Of course every progressive (I call them pinkos) knows that country western music lyrics are
secret code for GOP, racist, bigotted homophobic mysogynistic red neck hick Nazis' enjoyment only.

Simply shocked that you didn't get any of that feedback, Silver.

Scotty said...

Ahhhhh...VFW's. Some of the best gig's I played back in the day!

Z said... didn't really mention THE BAND's LAST WALTZ? The Band might be my number one band ever and so few people appreciate them (Their Night They Drove Ol'Dixie DOwn is so haunting) least one of my top ten.
Neil Young, The Dead....absolute favorites. (I have a bootleg Young album recorded at the L.A. Music Center, pretty sweet)
For a minute, I thought you meant you loved LA WOMEN but then realized you meant the Doors song :-) Ah, well!

When did this trip happen?

I loved the road up to Santa's only 1 1/2 hours but bliss as it runs along the ocean for quite a bit and one ends up in, well..Santa Barbara. It was heaven and I haven't been since I lost my Mr. Z. Don't know how that first trip back will feel but I know "good" isn't on the list of options.
I guess I'd have to say the whole Pacific Coast Highway up to N. California is a winner for me...twists and turns, Carmel, Big Sur, etc...gorgeous.

I really enjoyed your post

Z said...

Re traveling music, I think of California and I think of The Eagles...
I listen to Ella and Eydie a lot when I'm traveling so I can sing with them...Mr. Z didn't love Rock. Maybe that's the one redeeming part of my going back, I can have THE BAND ON :-), or YES, or The Dead, or ZZ.

Trekkie4Ever said...

How fun!! I have traveled that road a few times, and there is something quite serene about the scenery. And you CANNOT beat the awesomeness of the sunsets!

I was born in Texas, grew up in a very small rural town of New Mexico and I can honestly say, I miss those days and my town.

It was time where all the neighbors were friends, the kids hung out together and doors were never locked.

But nothing beats the sunsets, sunrises and the incredible lightening storms.

Wish I could have tagged along. It sounds wonderful!

Ducky's here said...

Hey Fredd, free Dump on Ducky today.

Drove about 75 miles round trip up the Mass. coast to photograph an abandoned factory I've been tracking for awhile.

Turns out the wreckers are there and I just say thank goodness I got here in time. Start to shoot and I get the "Low battery you dope" message.

Well, luckily I brought my bag and what do you know, the spare is charged. Ducky's one happy camper.

I immediately achieved satori and got some beautiful shots. Just as relaxed as can be.

I decided to take a routine shot of the local lighthouse and when I loaded it there's a perfectly framed "old salt" in a rowboat at the edge of the frame that I hadn't even noticed.

Dump on Ducky Day, he's too mellow to get upset. All done with Hedy West on the iPod.

It's been a beautiful day.

Always On Watch said...

My favorite driving music is Credence Clearwater Revival.

I also like some of The Doors as driving music.

Mr. AOW likes Johnny Cash and The Eagles.

Unknown said...

I-40 through southern NM and Arizona and listening to anything that keeps the finger tapping.

Hell of a sight coming out of Winslow to what first appears to be storm clouds rolling your way, only to find out as you draw nearer that it’s the Mogollon Plateau, and as you make the claim to Flagstaff to see nothing but snow on the ground... in May.

Finntann said...

If I was going to Bernalillo, I'd be more inclined to take 24 to 285 then take 64 over to 122 and then take 96 down to 550. While listening to some Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Royal Crown Revue, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, and maybe some Brian Setzer.

But I've always been of the opinion if your on the interstate your missing everything.


viburnum said...

My last really long road trip was down and back to Columbia SC. 95 was such a drag I came back up 77 and 81 through the mountains. A gorgeous ride on a clear day. And before one of you westerners point it out, yes I know there aren't any real mountains east of the Mississippi. LOL.

I'm planning a trip west for this summer. Looking to drive different routes out and back to see more of the country. Flying doesn't really convey any feeling for the land or the distance. Looking forward to watching the Rockies rise up from the horizon.

I'll have pretty much Z's music list for company. Nice to find another conservative Dead Head. ( GDR is playing Further's Mama Tried cover as I write )

Silverfiddle said...

Viburnum: The Dead loved Haggard. I love their version of "Okie from Muskogee." What irony!

Fredd said...

Dumping on Ducky is always free. For what it's worth.

Rob said...

Old Rock is the best road music!

If you're ever headed back towards West Texas, you'll hafta let us put you up for a night!

There's a short (about 2 hours) stretch of road between Brady and Georgetown (in the Texas "Hill Country") that's really pretty with lots of trees, twisty curves, and some small rivers.

And way back in 2001, my wife & I drove Highway 1 from San Diego to San Francisco. Once you get north of Santa Barbara (which would be my starting point if I had it to do again) it becomes incredibly scenic. We were in a little military town called Lompoc on 9/11. Kinda put a bizarre vibe of the rest of the trip.

KP said...

Great stories, SF. I love this topic and all stuff related.

Ducky, thanks for your insight. It's good to know there are some things almost all of us can agree on. Roads and music.

"up and over the Rockies to Denver; Boulder Canyon to Nederland and on up to Estes Park via highway 7" ... Arizona, and I-10 going up the mountains, through Palm Springs and down into LA ..."

I have ridden all these routes on my bike. Some of the best roads in the world and your play list is right up there as well.

KP said...

viburnum, I saw Dead play outdoors in Santa Barbara in 1972. It was in a football stadium with open seating (ie, blankets and beach chairs. It was called "Day On The Green" and they didn't disappoint. They played for six hours! After that Rod Stewart and the Faces went another two hours. As you know, that's how the Dead rolled :)

viburnum said...

I think I caught the east coast leg of that tour. Here in Philly they played until the venue cut power to the stage at about quarter to two in the morning.

I have some friends who would insist that remembering the year makes us mere dilettantes rather than the truly faithful ;-)

Thersites said...

Elis Regina for Brazilian jazz...

Anonymous said...

Just heard The Planets by Gustav Holst the other day. It started as I was driving to the store. I couldn't stop listening. I was spellbound, so I kept driving aimlessly so I could hear the whole thing. Magnificent music! THEN, I went to the store.

Good thing I wasn't on the way to a doctor's appointment -- and that HAS happened. Very hard for me to tear myself away from great music in the middle of a performance. For me it's not ust entertainment, but a way of life.

What do I listen to?

The following list just about scratches the surface:

J.S. Bach - a virtual five-foot-shelf of choral, orchestral and keyboard music
Handel - another five-foot shelf of great operas, oratorios, orchestral works, organ concerti, chamber music
Haydn - somewhere between 104 and 108 symphonies, 50 piano sonatas, 2 piano concerti
Mozart - somewhere between 41 and 49 symphonies, 27 piano concerti, 20 operas, 19 piano sonatas, Art songs
Beethoven - 9 symphonies, 5 piano concerti, 32 piano sonatas, one opera, much chamber music
Schubert - 9 symphonies, 19 piano sonatas, 600-plus lieder, chamber music
Chopin - 2 piano sonatas, 2 piano concerti, 4 ballades, 4 scherzi, 20 nocturnes, 14 waltzes, 27 etudes, about 59 mazurkas, and much more
Schumann - over 140 works for orchestra, piano, lieder
Brahms - 4 symphonies, 2 piano concerti, one violin concerto, lieder, chamber music - about 160 works in all
Richard Wagner - 13 epic music dramas
Mahler - 9 symphonies, several great song cycles
Richard Strauss - 10 Tone Poems, 15 operas, numerous songs for solo voice and orchestra

To say nothing of Saint-Saens, Charpentier, Gabriel Fauré, Cesar Franck, Debussy, Ravel, DuParc, Duruflé, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini, Cilea, Szymanowski, Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff, Prokofieff, Shostakovich, Kabalevsky, Messiaen, Poulenc, Hugo Wolf, Edvard Grieg, Edward Elgar, Aaron Copland, Bartok, Gershwin, Kurt Weill, Bernstein, Samuel Barber, Giancarlo Mennotti, Douglas Moore, Robert Ward ... ... ...

And I've said nothing about Jazz, or Musical Comedy which I also love. Shame on me!

An incredible world of brilliant, magnificent, infinitely touching wonders one could spend several lifetimes getting to know and still never get to the end of it.

~ FreeThinke

Silverfiddle said...

I wonder if "The Planets" was inspired by Kepler's whimsical reasoning that tried to fit the daily angular velocity of each planet to a musical scale?

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

Road Trip playlist:

Charlies Daniels Band
The Eagles
ZZ Top
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Led Zeppelin
Hank Williams, Jr.

Ducky's here said...

Is the Dead a Western thing for road trips?

Are Western and Eastern road trips fundamentally different? I don't think so.

Worst road trip I ever took - in Saudi Arabia. Reason may surprise you, the drivers make Bostonians seem polite.

Ducky's here said...

Silver, I don't think Holst was commenting on Kepler's musical theory.

He had more in common with the Romantics, I think.

What was Kepler's influence on music? Now that you bring it up it would make a good paper.

Ducky's here said...

Elis Regina no doubt, Farmer.

Ducky's here said...

... too bad she died so young. Another one gone to the drugs.

Elis and Tom is proof that there is no better summer music than bosa. Just isn't any better.

KP said...

viburnum, I went back and looked. I saw the Dead at UCSB in Harder Stadium in May of 1973. They were in Philly at the Spectrum just before that in March. So I guess I caught the back half of the tour. I guess we did good because our memories are foggy!

Silverfiddle said...


Because of the mathematical properties of an ellipse, Kepler determined that bodies orbiting the sun much have changing angular velocities along their elliptical paths. He tried to fit it into a theory of music scales but I guess he abandoned it.

And I don't think the Grateful Dead is a western thing. They belong to all mankind!

viburnum said...

Ducky: "Are Western and Eastern road trips fundamentally different? I don't think so."

The scenery here is on much more of a human scale. I remember my first trip to Colorado and commenting on the two beautiful snow capped mountains in the distance. I was dumbfounded when told that they were 200 miles away, in New Mexico. Here that would be like looking out the window at the Catskills. LOL

viburnum said...

KP: "I guess we did good because our memories are foggy!"

Yeah, but at our age we can't necessarily blame that on the past. ;-)

Anonymous said...

As a guitar playin' veteran, I wish I was there. Sounds just what the [corpsman] ordered. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi, SilverFiddle. I believe the inspiration for The Planets was astrological not "astronomical" or mathematical.

There's a lot of math in the scientific structure of Music, of course, but the basis for true musical expression usually stems from a need to capture emotions and "essences" by translating them into sound. It's a very intuitive, somewhat mysterious process, and requires tremendous, unfettered imagination, insight and the love -- and a capacity -- for fantasy and metaphysics.

Have you ever listened to The Planets? I hate the word, because it's become so overused, but the music is truly awesome.

It's in a league with "Also Sprach Zarathustra," the Tone Poem of Richard Strauss that became popularized because of Stanley Kubrick's movie "2001: A Space Odyssey," which you may remember.

Lots of classical, romantic and post-romantic symphonic music deals with large-scale cosmic themes that evoke the mystery and grandeur of things far above and beyond our little selves and the petty concerns of our daily lives. Listening to it with full atention can feel a little like looking at earth from outer space without having to worry about whether or not one of the rockets might fail before you can return safely home -- or scaling Mt. Everest -- or hang-gliding over the Grand Canyon, if that's even permitted.

Once you get into this stuff, it gives you goose bumps and sometimes a feeling of ecstasy that might be like a good trip on LSD or Peyote but with none of the health risks involved.

I, personally, believe that great symphonic music and the best keyboard and vocal music bring us closer to God than mere words could possibly do, BUT you have to be tuned into it to get the right kind of vibes.

All this stuff is larger-than-life, takes us out of ourselves and puts us in touch with a much broader view of the world -- and for me at least -- greatly expands hope for human potential.

BUT, it may not be for everybody, but I wish more people could be exposed to it early in life and be encouraged to give it a chance to work its magic. That can't happen, unless you meet it at least halfway. Many are reluctant to make the effort, because they're afraid it would be "BAWRING."

Too bad! We miss so much when we close our minds to -- anything -- without at least giving it a good college try.



Anonymous said...

by the way not that anyone has called me on it, but I forgot to mention Gabrieli, Dietrich Buxtehude, Johann Pachelbel, Antonio Vivaldi, Carl Maria Von Weber, Felix Mendelssohn, Domenico Scarlatti,John Field, Jean Sibelius, Mily Balakirev, Olivier Messiaen, Georges Bizet, Josef Cantaloube, Erik Satie, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakoff, Selim Palmgren, Igor Stravinsky, Alban Berg and Anton Webern in my little list above.

I'm sure Ducky who knows absolutely everything about everything will be glad to tell us who I missed besides Heinz Werner Henze, Christian Sinding, Carl Nielsson, Luciano Berio, Octavio Pinto, Charles Ives, Luigi Dallopiccola, and Eliot Carter, but I imagine the names he might give would be Japanese, Chinese, Korean or Indian.

Let's see. ;-)

~ FreeThinke

KP said...

FT, "Also sprach Zarathustra," was something I grew up with in my house in the early 60s (particularly the inital fanfare "sunset"). My father played it on reel to reel tapes, very loud. One of my favorite chilhood memories. That and him with cotton in his ears when I played Neil Young on the same machine. His quote "that guy sounds like he got his balls caught in a sewing machine".

Anyway, my brothers and sister and I were shocked to hear Strauss in the movie theaters in 1968.

v - correct about the memory. What the heck happened to me the last ten years :-) I think I will increase my fisetin intake!

Anonymous said...


If you liked Also Sprach Zarathustra, you'd probably like A Hero's Life, Death and Transfiguration,Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks, and The Domestic Symphony too, and you might even enjoy The Final Scene from his opera Salome.

Try also The Immolation Scene from Wagner's Goettedaemmerung and The Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg.

This stuff will blow your mind, and make your hair stand on end.

Just don't try to listen to it all on the same day. ;-)

~ FreeThinke

Kid said...

Driving any highway in Arizona is cool and full of adventure and scenery. I've done the I-17, I-40, I-44, I-70 ride several times.
I've never driven through Oklahoma when it didn't rain the entire way through.

Anyway, ZZ-top, the Doors, some Led Zep, Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, some Rolling Stones - beggars banquet is good for the road, Les McCann, Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Traffic, Joe Cocker, Willie Dixon, Anything that's blues. Frank Zappa, Mozart, Cream, Blind Faith, Classical, znd especially anything they don't ever play on the radio.

Ducky's here said...

Zarathustra is too closely melded with 2001: A Space Odyssey .

Any film that only makes sense if you're stoned just doesn't do it for me.

Along with Fellini, Kubrick went absolutely off his trolley when he moved to color. It ruined a few greats.

Although Zarathustra isn't the highlight for me, the docking scene to the Strauss waltz is absolutely inspired. Too bad the film is a New Age melange.

Ducky's here said...

Freethinker, I had someone bet me the dinner check the other day that I couldn't name The Group of Five.

I guessed Charles Ives, Walter Piston, Samuel Barber, Henry Cowell, and Carl Ruggles. Got three.

You forgot Orlando Gibbons. Absolutely ethereal.

Anonymous said...

Josquin des Prez, Byrd, Bull, Gibbons, Henry Purcell, Jan Pieterzoon Sweelinck, Orlando di Lasso, Palestrina, Claudio Monteverdi, Tamas Luis Vittoria, Thalberg, Henselt, Kalkbrenner, Taussig, Moscheles, Arthur Honneger, Georges Auric, Germaine Tailleferre, Cesar Cui, Mrs. H.H.A. Beach, George Chadwick, Edward MacDowell, Dohnanyi, Ottorini Resphigi, Charles Tomlinson Griffes ... ... ...

Oh my God! I never mentioned Rossini. For shame!

Or Hindemith. Flay me! Scourge me to the bone.

Or Scriabin.

Or, or, or, or, or, O, Heaven help me! TCHAIKOVSKY!!!

Dip me in acid.

Burn me alive!

Feed me to the dogs!

I am a most wretched dunce. An abomination in the field. A cypher. A flop.

I get an F.


~ FT

Anonymous said...

And then there was Guillaume de Machaut -- the first known polyphonist.

~ FT

Anonymous said...

Actually some of my very favorite music of all time when I am cruising along the Skyline Drive in fine weather is The Sound of Silence.

~ FreeThinke

PS: I left out Franz Liszt. Imagine that. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Lastly, American composer John Cage (1912-1992) is best remembered for a "composition" where a group of musicians sit for several minutes on stage and do absolutely nothing. If this challenging composition is performed properly, the players don't even roll their eyes or pick their noses. Farting, of course, is strictly prohibited -- the ultimate "Sound of Silence," I suppose.

The performers are permitted to wear clothes -- the only concession to "convention" in the entire work.

That may change, however, in the unlikely even that the piece is ever given a revival. Revision is so "in" these days.

Throughout much of the past century -- an era fraught-with-if-not-dominated-by a morbid devotion to irrationality -- Andersen's poor old emperor must have spent many a wretched winter day hugging his naked body in a futile attempt to stay warm, while his teeth chattered in the bitter cold.

~ FreeThinke

Ducky's here said...

One of the more pleasant threads you've hosted, Silver.

Ducky's here said...

Freethinker, I was out at the old granite quarry on the ocean in Rockport, quite alone.

Calm day, no waves. I thought it was dead silent.

Then one of Cage's compositions started playing. It was surprisingly complex.

KP said...

Ducky said: "Zarathustra is too closely melded with 2001: A Space Odyssey."

Fortunately, I had years of listening to the music prior to the film in '68. So for me the music in the film was awkward. I couldn't believe they used my family's music!

OD357 said...

I agree with Rob about that stretch of road in the Texas hill country from Brady to Austin. Made that trip a lot going from Bergstrom AFB in Bastrop to hometown Odessa.

Another good drive is highway 65 from Harrison, AR to Branson, MO. Drive it during the day. It's more scenic and safer. Rock on the way to Branson. But it will take a few days to get the bluegrass out of your system.

Anonymous said...

You westerners ought to know Ferde Grofé who wrote The Grand Canyon Suite.

Born in New York City of French Huguenot parentage he supported himself doing various menial tasks included driving a truck, harvesting crops, tending bar and functioning as a saloon pianist.

He was a skilled orchestrater and produced the orchestral score for the historic world premiere of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue in 1924 with Paul Whiteman's orchestra, Gershwin, himself, at the piano and Whiteman at the baton.

He is best known and most remembered for his Grand Canyon Suite -- a musical evocation of what it feels like to experience the canyon from several different aspects. The suite was hugely popular in his time, and may still be in the repertory. I hope so!

He lived to the age of 80. I only wish he'd written a great deal more.

If you heard his music, I'm pretty sure you'd recognize it -- even today.

~ FreeThinke