What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing?—it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-by. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.
~ Jack Kerouac, “On the Road”
I was inspired to by Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” while I was in New Orleans. Anyone who’s ever been in a bookstore (or really, any browsing situation) and felt what can only be surmised as the vibrations of destiny knows that feeling. I never had the experience of driving cross country, and the American interstate tourism industry has likely well been relocated, like jazz, to museums. We spend more money preserving that chapter of history than we do enjoying it in real time.
Life is like a long road. As I went through New Orleans and New York City on this last trip, I viscerally felt attuned to this notion that I was walking a road where the people I saw were those who I’ve invested time and effort into making and retaining friendships with. Some were passengers, back-seat drivers or people who put me up and let me rest my weary feet. Some I met because of detours in the road of life, others because I took the scenic route. But eventually, you see them in your rear view mirror and wave farewell, not knowing when next you’ll meet. This song and video are kind of like that.
This video explores the musicians walking down one such long, often desolate road. Like life, there are stretches of highway out here in the Midwest where one can go a long time without seeing anything or anyone. The music is strangely cheery and upbeat, and I smiled when I heard it come on in the last bar before my Long Walk to the L Train.
I don’t think this song will ever become a cult classic, but I have nothing negative to say about it. It’s got a solid, almost bouncy rhythm in the choruses, which drop out to allow the almost narrative verses freedom to move, and just when you’re almost tired of trying to figure out the lyrics, in we go into another chorus.
But take the time and watch the video for this one. There’s a reason I linked it.
Photo: Kyrre Gjerstad/Flickr