Any Major American Road Trip – 1
A few years ago I began a series of posts that followed the itinerary of an American road trip through songs about cities and towns along the way. When it reached New York, the series fizzled out. But now I’m embarking on another road trip.
The idea will be to travel from the East Coast to the West Coast and back east. The journey begins in Boston and will end in Miami. The itinerary will be zig-zagging a bit, but it must be at least notionally plausible. So the Mississippi town of Jackson, which Johnny Cash and June Carter sang about so memorably, will not feature because it is out of our way.
We’ll spend a little extra time in New York: one song about New York City generally, and one for each borough (Dylan’s song covers Staten Island; Queens is covered by the Ramones song).
The songs that represent the towns on our way should ideally be set in those localities, but on occasion that rule may be bent, as it is at the end of this mix, when Keith Whitley puns on the name Charlotte in North Carolina.
Highland Falls, NY might be the smallest town on our tour; it’s a village of just under 4,000 people. The town is included on strength of one of Billy Joel’s finest songs bearing its name. The song doesn’t really refer to Highland Falls — Billy Joel has said it is about manic depression and a relationship falling apart. But Joel was living there at the time, and named the song after his domicile. In this mix I might also have located Billy Joel in Martha’s Vineyard, MA (The Downeaster Alexa), Cold Spring Harbor, NY (Everybody Loves You Now), Oyster Bay, Long Island (Billy The Kid), Hackensack, NJ (Movin’ Out), the New Jersey Palisades (Miami 2017), Allentown or Bethlehem, PA (Allentown), the Pennsylvania Turnpike (You’re My Home) — and, of course, many times in New York City.
Bruce Springsteen might have taken us to Fairview, NJ (Darkness On The Edge Of Town), Atlantic City, Baltimore or, though a bit off course, Kingstown MD (both Hungry Heart), besides many places in NYC. In the end the obvious choice was Asbury Park.
In the first stage, we leave from Boston with a song that features the city’s name in the title and first verse, but isn’t really about Boston but places all over the USA. Sung by Joan Baez (whose version is lovelier than Dave Loggins’), it seems like a good way to set out on our American road trip.
And, yes, the contradiction between the songs for Washington DC and Arlington is deliberate — the latter hints at a mentality I am uncomfortable with, but which is nevertheless part of what I suppose is the American experience.
So, here we go, with a mix times to fit on as standard CD-R. Covers included; PW same as always.
1. Joan Baez – Please Come To Boston (live 1976, Boston, MA)
2. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Woodstock (1970, Woodstock, NY)
3. Over The Rhine – Poughkeepsie (1996, Poughkeepsie, NY)
4. Billy Joel – Summer, Highland Falls (1976, Highland Falls, NY)
5. Bob Dylan – Hard Times In New York Town (1961, Staten Island, NY)
6. Black 47 – Our Lady Of The Bronx (1992, Bronx, NYC)
7. Neil Diamond – Brooklyn Roads (1968, Brooklyn, NYC)
8. Prefab Sprout – Hey Manhattan! (1988, Manhattan, NYC)
9. Ramones – Rockaway Beach (1977, Queens, NYC)
10. Odyssey – Native New Yorker (1977, New York City)
11. Bruce Springsteen – 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) (live 1980, Asbury Park, NJ)
12. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Fall In Philadelphia (1972, Philadelphia, PA)
13. Gram Parsons – Streets Of Baltimore (1973, Baltimore, MA)
14. Parliament – Chocolate City (1975, Washington, DC)
15. Trace Adkins – Arlington (2005, Arlington, VA)
16. Mat Kearney – (Young Love) Virginia Is For Lovers (2011, Richmond, VA)
17. Sonic Youth – Chapel Hill (1992, Chapel Hill, NC)
18. Townes Van Zandt – Greensboro Woman (1972, Greensboro, NC)
19. Keith Whitley – Charlotte’s In North Carolina (released 1994, Charlotte, NC)