Songs About Going Home
My mind’s a jumble. I close my eyes and six million scattered thoughts pass through, pictures of people walking away from my life and others coming in, images of someone I probably just pissed off and song titles and lyrics and crossing over verses and sweeping up the patio and cleaning out my closet plans. Yesterday, I boiled an egg for 30 minutes. I put it on, went to the other room and searched through ten years of journals, then thought, ‘what’s that sound?’ and went back to the kitchen to find a bubbling, almost dry pot and a cracked open egg. Know what you get when you cook an egg that long? Chicken!
Actually, you just get a grey yolk. But it tastes fine.
(Did you also know you can google ‘is it safe to eat an overboiled egg’ and get many websites that say yes? So much for calling your mom. Your mom is now google.)
Today I sent six emails to the same two people asking them to clarify what they meant when it was actually pretty clear. I woke up to half-composed texts on my phone, and I know my cat and I had a conversation about the weather at 4:30 am. (“Pretty stormy, huh, Pumpkin?” “Raow.” It wasn’t, actually.)
And right now I’m sitting here trying to sort through work that’s making me totally.crazy. and all I can think about is going home. I’m particularly stoked (dude) about this trip because I get to go to Edmonton first and I’m pretty sure Edmonton might be my favourite place ever. I haven’t been back since 2007. It doesn’t help that I’ve been listening to a bunch of songs about Alberta.
One memory just now inspired me to write this, being an especially powerful one. I once went down to a concert in Calgary between work shifts. I used to do this a lot, but this time, it was pretty tight. Left work at 5, got to the concert around 8, stayed until midnight, slept for 4 hours, got up and drove back to work at the beer warehouse. I got stuck coming into the south end of the city and received my only speeding ticket ever after burning through the perpetual construction zone. Anyway, there was something pretty memorable about getting no sleep and driving on that relatively empty highway as the sun came up with that concert still on my mind. The day that lay in front of me, of tracking how many guys mistakenly put Kokanee on the palette instead of Keith’s, didn’t seem so bad after seeing the prairies pass by me at 140 km/h.
So, here are a few tunes about being on the road. Or the Canadian prairies. I’m assuming I’ll at least hear from a few of you on your favourite road songs, no?
1. “On the Road Again”
I’ll attach a longish story to this one (feel free to skip ahead). My best friend came over a few weeks ago and she’s going through a total shit time, so I put on Steve Earle’s collection of Townes van Zandt songs, because I know her favourite song is “Pancho and Lefty”.
“What is this?” she asked partway through the song. I told her. “Who is this?” she asked. I told her. “Oh. Can we put on the right one?” So I pulled out my Willie Nelson super hits disc and let it run through. She also loves “Georgia on My Mind”, and inevitably, we heard “On the Road Again.” Fast forward to this past weekend when we escaped to Kingston for a weekend of partying to escape said hard times, and we kept hearing this guy in the hallway of the hotel every morning announcing his departure by singing this song. So I gotta include it.
2. “Pancho and Lefty”
Well, it is a road song.
3. “Long Time Gone”
An appropriate song, because I’m preparing for that inevitable move back home. It could be next year, it could be ten years down the road. Deviate off course for a bit, fuck up a whole bunch, don’t tell people everything that I’ve been doing, then slink back home and find out everything’s different. That moment’s going to be tough.
On a side note, my friend and I discovered that I still sing all the high harmonies and she still sings the melodies for the Chicks’ songs. When she got sick of my playlist in the car, she said, “Can you just put on the Chicks so we can sing?”
4. “El Paso”
To me, one of the all-time great road songs.
Privately, today’s a good day for me to play this song, so while you all enjoy the narrative, or the voice, or that brilliant melody, I’ll quietly indulge myself behind the scenes and you won’t even notice.
This is up there with “Red Barchetta”.
I’m kidding, ok? I mean, I love “RB” too, but it’s got a very, um, different feel to it. Same sentiment, though, really. Open road, freedom and such. I’ll spare you the “RB” video, since I know I’ll just make y’all mad.
6. “Four Strong Winds”
One more. About the road and being away from home and the prairies. A classic.
On my way home…