Twenty-one years ago, I wrote my first song. I had written a few when I was in my early twenties learning to play guitar, but they were forgettable enough that I don’t remember them. And I had written the lyrics to a song composed by my friend Matt Corbin called “Mystery” when we were in Alaska back in the mid-nineties. However, “On The Road” was the first song I wrote that I still play from time to time.
I had hitchhiked from North Carolina to Colorado and had managed to score a job and housing at Breckenridge Ski Resort. I accompanied some friends as they went skiing, got the job before noon, and the money my parents had deposited into my account after selling my computer was just enough to cover my apartment deposit, a loaf of bread, peanut butter, and bananas. Although my roommate had a huge crush on her and asked me not to, I started a relationship with a woman who lived in my apartment unit, and on occasion she let me borrow her guitar when I made her grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
As a Florida child of summer, I am not a big fan of snow, nor the cold that accompanies it. I did enjoy learning how to snowboard and making a snowman with Andrea, but I stayed inside as much as possible. Looking forward to the time that I could get to warmer climates and see new things again, I wrote a song about the wonder of travel.
As the tenth video I’ve made in this series of Motorcycling Music Across America, and after producing thirty videos of Hamilton Across America, making this video really made me remember what I love about being on the road. I also think it gave me a lot of time to play with the production style, so while I will certainly be releasing all of the other videos over the next few months, I think that the fortieth is the best so I’m releasing it ahead of my other originals.
When I was shooting this footage, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to use it. For the Hamilton series, I kept each song in its own city or state. But when I started putting mine together, I felt they gave me an opportunity to better share the expanse of last year’s trip. So much of the footage was just so beautiful, and I’m thankful that I get to share it along with my songs.
This version of “On The Road” was recorded at Common Grounds Meeting House in Northport in December of 2019. Ray Istorico accompanied me on percussion, as he has many times been a member of the Wandering Soul Band. I hope to produce a more polished version where I actually hit the right notes some day, but I think it will do for now. Hopefully, I’ll get to play it a few more times when I get back out on the road.
My intention for this year is to ride my motorcycle up to Maine and back, possibly up to Canada, and perform wherever I am able. I’ll be leaving Sarasota again in August, and already have two performances of Steve McAlphabet’s Wandering Soul Road Show in Gainesville and Clifton Forge, Virginia, consisting of an introduction with “The Cowboy Cabaret”, a screening of “The Road To Will” (the documentary I shot on last year’s 10,500 mile trip to explore the legacy of Will Rogers), and “Get The Bunk Out”, which is based on Will’s political humor infused with original songs and poetry. I’ll also be taking my 1959 Olympia typewriter so that I’ll be able to offer “pay what you want poetry” wherever I can as well.
I plan to come back by November because I do enjoy these Sarasota winters, but I’m hoping this will be the last year that I spend June and July in Florida. I will certainly miss avocado and mango season, but I am much more drawn to become a full-on sunbird and fly off for the summer to avoid the heat. I look forward to getting on the road again.