Friday, August 25, 2017
A LITTLE ROAD TRIP MUSIC
… some thoughts and incidents from the great
California to Vancouver Island Loop of 2017…
A couple of months back, Dan Rather, venerable news anchor of CBS fame, now working “News and Guts,” a site on social media, diverged from his usual council on all things politic to share that he and his grandson were departing on a road trip across America’s heartland. “What music,” he asked, “do you listen to when you’re on a road trip?”
I had pondered his question for several weeks, then on a recent motorcycle adventure through several states, the answer came to me: The music I listen to is my own.
As a kid, although we had a fine AM radio in the old Ford Ranchwagon, most of the music we ‘enjoyed’ was performed by Dad, who, while driving would regale us with Broadway show tunes. His favorites? “Ol’ Man River” from Show Boat and “If I Loved You,” from Carousel, in both I could devise some harmony for the final few bars or so – Dad liked that a lot – and “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific. Although he apparently had a thing for Oscar Hammerstein’s lyrics, Ezio Pinza he was not.
When Dad really got going, he’d pull a ten-hole Hohner Chromonica from his shirt pocket and begin to play Clyde McCoy’s “Sugar Blues.” That’s when Mom would force him to pull over so she could take the wheel.
My road trip play list comes completely from my own head – usually consisting of either show tunes or American Song Book standards. I was the only kid ever who grew up in the sixties with no rock n roll music allowed in the house. “Next it will be drugs,” Mom would say with more than a hint of exasperation, “or… or… SEX!” And there’d be none of that.
So this day, I’m driving north on US 101 along Oregon’s dramatic coastline. For reasons I cannot understand, I find myself singing something from Johnny Mercer’s catalog: The summer wind came blowin’ in from across the sea… Perhaps it’s because the sea was right over there. This song as followed by “The Way You Look Tonight.” Maybe it’s because Sinatra sang it just as he had the previous tune. Then I’m singing “Here Comes That Rainy Day.” There’s always a rainy day coming to Oregon…
About half way through this ‘set,’ I realize, Hey! The acoustics inside this Shoei motorcycle helmet are excellent! As a visitor, I’d once been given the chance to sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in their Salt Lake City building whose perfect acoustics was designed by a bridge builder. The interior of my helmet was at least that good.
“Somewhere, Over the Rainbow” showed up on my play list, along with “That Old Black Magic,” followed by my personal theme song, “As Time Goes By.”
Not a Beatles song in the lot.
Nor a song by the Doors. “Doors,” Mom opined, “were devises used to allow access from one room to the next. Nothing more.”
The set ended at a Chevron station in Reedsport or Lincoln City. Open the front of the helmet and the acoustics suddenly turn to crap. Plus, when filling your motorcycle gas tank, it is necessary to hear when the fuel is about to overtop things and spoil the paint. On top of that, singing at the gas station may prompt people to cast strained glances or even contact the authorities.
Back in the saddle, I was concentrating on the serpentine pavement that split Oregon’s coastal forest and reveling when I broke through the curtain of trees to gain a glorious view of a fog dappled Pacific.
A tiny island, little more than a rock, rested on the cusp of the horizon as the road twisted back into a forest stand. I’m singing, Somewhere, beyond the sea…
...and giving Bobby Darin a run for his money.
Church of the Open Road Press