Lots of you read the Sunday Index-Journal.
I love hearing from you in person, seeing a new message in my email inbox, or receiving a voicemail on my phone with reactions to this column – and especially with suggestions for musical tracks that I might have either missed or not had room to include. I welcome your suggestions.
In the last “Off the Record,” we talked about journeying to far off destinations through song lyrics. I listed suggestions for destination songs from family, friends, colleagues, and members of this community. Here are a few more that were contributed and then a couple of personal picks.
Bettie Rose Horne sent a nice note with suggestions for a few songs from her home state. “Amarillo by Morning” by George Strait, “Abilene” as performed by George Hamilton IV, and “Texas in my Rearview Mirror,” a 1980 hit for singer-songwriter Mac Davis, all made Horne’s top choices. She also pointed me in the direction of “one of the most beautiful jazz songs I have ever heard – one about a little place near Kissimmee, Florida called ‘Poinciana (Song of the Trees)’ by Amad Jamal.” She still has the song on vinyl LP and remembers “this track, his name, and the mystery of the song transporting me as a teenager to tropical places I could only dream about, living way out there on the flat, dry, brown Panhandle of Texas.”
One of my colleagues at Lander University, Tom Neal, had some great suggestions. “Graceland” from Paul Simon was among his picks, as were “Woodstock” from Crosby Stills Nash & Young, “Kashmir” from Led Zeppelin, “Strawberry Fields” and “Penny Lane” from The Beatles. Neal said his top choice would be “Memory Motel” from the Rolling Stones. “The lyrics seem more than semi-autobiographical,” he wrote, “especially given the unadulterated glee in Mick Jagger’s vocals when he sings the lyrics, ‘What’s all this laughter on the 22nd floor. It’s just some friends of mine and they’re bustin’ down the doors.’”
Russ Fitzgerald, who offered me several quality suggestions, provides another superb choice of a familiar destination for many. He suggests Steve Earle’s “Hometown Blues” (“with apologies to Thomas Wolfe and Doc Watson”). Russ cites the operative line in the song – “Won’t nothin’ bring you down like your hometown.”
For me, personally, there are several songs that immediately stir up feelings of wanderlust. I love to travel. I love music. The combination of the two together is something special.
Joni Mitchell’s “Free Man in Paris” is one of those songs as is “Shambala” from Three Dog Night.”
But sometimes there are only shades of inference to the location itself and the song is more about feeling. Escape for a bit. Listen for a few minutes and be refreshed.
Patty Griffin has a song called “Heavenly Day” which speaks to me in this way. It’s less about location and more about feeling, but it’s certainly an audio vacation for me.
“Oh, heavenly day
“All the clouds blew away
“Got no trouble today with anyone.
“Tomorrow may rain with sorrow
“Here’s a little time we can borrow
“Forget all our troubles in these moments so few
“Oh, heavenly day”
I can hear that track, close my eyes for a few minutes, and it just makes the day a little bit better.
Speaking of feel-good songs, “Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra may just be the pinnacle of these kinds of tunes. Again, less about a specific place and more about the exhilaration of living your life on a sunny day – a complete feel-good song if ever one was written.
Thank you for all of your suggestions and happy trails to you!
Paul Crutcher is the broadcast specialist and XLR Radio general manager at Lander University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at@PaulCrutcher.