Greetings all and sundry!
Having successfully gotten the Holiday and New Year season safely ensconced in my rear view mirror. I’ve decided to take a little reminiscent jaunt into an arena held close and often dear to those who have had to sit behind the wheel of a car and make distance.
Regardless if it may be the pitch black, “Zero dark Thirty” hours after midnight. The unappreciated attempt to skirt a major city as rush hour rears its ugly head. The quiet and expansive hours after sunset. Or as the Sun majestically makes itself know as it suffuses over the horizon and “Rises like Thunder”, as Rudyard Kipling once opined.
With the aid of music as a motivation. To either get the blood going while trying to achieve escape velocity as the trek begins. Or to find a preferred relaxed groove as fingers deftly guide your mode of conveyance around intermittent autos, trucks or buses.
We all have our “Go To” and fallback selections. Dependent upon the length of the trip. And the hope that minions of the law equipped with Speed traps, Radar, Vas Car, or the always reliable “Mark II Eyeball” are nowhere in the immediate area.
To that end. I’ve assembled a short list of candidates. Their motivations and reason for occupying their said spots. as I introduce:
Road Trip Favorites: Car Passin’ Music
The hardest part of any Road Trip is assembling all the necessities and accessories required inside your form of conveyance. Luggage. Kids, if it’s during the Holidays. Snacks. Soda. Whatever is necessary to keep others occupied as the key is turned in the ignition and the journey begins.
With the desire to put as much distance as possible between yourself or selves. And you domestic domicile. Hoping to set a pace and achieve escape velocity before the first, “Are we there yet?” can be muttered.
And to achieve that velocity once on the open road. There is no tune better than Deep Purple’s Highway Star.
From its heavy bass and sharp metronome snare drum. To hard-driving lyrics that seethes with power and invincibility as its crazy organ, claw hammered lead guitar and other assorted background percussion move to the forefront.
With at least most of a state behind you and the first hints of a storm front moving in to add a hint of fallibility to the task. My second selection masterful back beat supplied by Brian Setzer and rifts that would put Joe Satriani to shame. Wondrously and lushly augmented by his “Big Band” orchestra proffer:
Brian Setzer’s 49 Mercury Blues:
We’ve all been there. Seeing a dark patch of cloud drawing nearer and lower with each eaten mile. And Setzer’s tune has a fail safe worked in with the anxiously driven rhythm of his lead guitar riding herd before lyrics and brass kicks in. Guaranteed to put away a few unwanted miles before his orchestra opens up and starts throwing down.
Once you’re in the free and clear. Some accompaniment is needed to make the highway slide silently and sating smooth beneath the tires. Nothing too raucous, but with changing tone, mood and emotion to keep the driver’s mind nimble and occupied while plunging east of midnight?
With many options and choices open for the middle position. And because I’ve been a fan of Stanley Kubrick and his eclectic choices of music for soundtracks. I’m opting for:
Chris Issak’s Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing:
Mostly for it’s two chord back bass line. Though the shifting of Mir. Issak’s voice from gravely bass to high-pitched angry falsetto does make for an intriguing change of pace as cars try to pass, but stay in the rear view.
Which opens up the parameters after the half way point and Rubicon have been crossed. And the first hints of definition within the slowly lightening darkness make themselves known. Revealing the faraway signs of civilization within a silhouetted city scape. And the anonymous McDonald’s, diners and family owned restaurants within.
Selecting a morning drive-by tune that brings the rising Sun and its instantly restorative powers to life. Just as a little known, left-handed guitarist had done ages ago at Max Yasgur’s farm and its “Woodstock” concert within:
Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner/Reveille
Partly due to Temporary Duty Assignments (TDY’s) to assorted Army Bases in the Panama Canal Zone. Points south. And the US. Working grave (Midnight) shift and walking back to the barracks just in time for blaring Reveille to rattle my cage. As the rising sun hit my eyes while cresting a hill. Thus instantly erasing any signs of tiredness and fatigue.
And partly for The Maestro’s performance shows myriad ways why he is still a reigning Guitar God. While deftly bending, warping and destroying any of Fender’s best.
Which leaves the Number One slot reserved for a favorite. No matter the time, traffic or conditions of travel. That harkens back to the “Rockabilly” and “Acid Grass” days of The New Riders of the Purple Sage. And their interchangeable band members with The Grateful Dead.
My top choice is from the third leg of this historic musical triad.
Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Air Men’s: Hot Rod Lincoln
More of a General Purpose piece of music. With deep resounding bass, twanging guitars and fiddle to pick up the slack where a pedal steel cannot reach. Also a neat and concise piece of story telling that rhymes in all the right places as it lifts moods and tempts just a bit more pressure on the gas pedal.
Granted, this may be considered an off the wall selection. They have worked for me over the years. Traveling home on leave.Outside the state moves. Filling countless hours of investigations and stake out surveillance in private investigations. Tailing wayward husbands or wives, stake outs and the odd auto repossession.
These tunes work for me.
With a short list of Honorable Mentions to include:
- Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels: Devil With The Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly!
- The Band’s: The Weight
- Bob Dylan’s: You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You’ Go.
- Freddie Mercury & Queen’s: Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
- Brian Setzer and his Band’s: Caravan.