Roads and Music

For some reason, probably the season, my musical mind has been wandering down roads. Country roads, roads home, whale-roads, various byways and highways.

People have been listening to “road music” or at least to pace-keeping sounds for a very long time. One of my favorite albums, which can only be found in Spain, is a collection of music for pilgrims on the route to Santiago Campostello. It starts with a brisk march, the lyrics of which say “We are all going to Campostello, to see the great thing there.”

And of course, in the 1970s, John Denver popularized “Country Roads.” It was even in the songbook I had in grade-school.

No, it’s not John Denver, but I kinda like this version better. Aside from the nasal voices, but that’s just me.

For something different, I first heard this one recorded by a high-school or college choir, but with military pictures, done as a tribute from a defense contractor. It also works with adult voices. I’ve posted it here before:

Some years ago I was introduced to the following when I did a concert based on ideas about travel and home. And my ear picked up that it is actually a variant on a hymn tune, Prospect, from The Sacred Harp. You may know the melody as “The Lone Wild Bird,” which has an interesting history of its own. I suspect the tune has older bones than even that, but it’s hard to say. Stephen Paulus, “The Road Home”:

In case you are curious about the tune’s roots:

We have a tune that has traveled the world, from the British Isles, to the American South, to West Texas, and Ireland again.

And a capstan-shanty style song from Scotland. It was written in 1928, but didn’t become popular until the folk-music surge of the 1960s-70s and later:

This is one I prefer as a men’s chorus, but I’m not going to fight with fans of The Corries. 🙂

13 thoughts on “Roads and Music

  1. Sigh… Yep, and those long cross country trips were ‘accompanied’ if you will, by C&W stations, as they had the most power… Mine was another John Denver song, Leaving on a Jet Plane. I did that a lot…

  2. For what it is worth ($0.02, less two pennies) I do NOT recommend listening to Spike Jones’ Little Bo-Peep Lost Her Jeep whilst driving in town. Speeds can too easily get too fast, and turns might be taken “at speed” and all. No, I was NOT stopped (mainly I was not witnessed) but this, this time, is The Voice Of Experience. Nothing bad happened, but… it was one of those, “Did I just really do THAT?” times.

    • There are a few instrumental songs I’ve learned to avoid while, oh, say, merging onto the Interstate. Like some of the fight music from _Ladyhawke_, for example.

      • I have to be careful about keeping speed under control when playing certain music while driving. For example, much by John Williams, Holst’s The Planets, and various instrumental pieces from the soundtracks for Robotech (main theme, Battlestations, and the 15th Squadron theme), Gundam Seed, and Nadesico. Though for Gundam Seed, some of the non-instrumental stuff can be as bad, like Invoke or “Anna ni Issho Datta no ni.”

  3. The Tabernacle choir, somehow manages to make all of their songs into completely unintelligible pretty gibberish to me. (It probably has something to do with too many years of good airplane, bad headset.) Is this this the same song?

  4. I happen to love Homeward Bound, but it didn’t necessarily strike me as driving music. About anything by CW McCall tends to fit the bill though. And for some reason I can’t really explain, “Whiskey in the Jar”

    • I’ve discovered that driving, especially in traffic, to things I sing along with is… not wise. I don’t recommend “March of the Cambreath” for merging, either. It tends to stir my blood a little more than is perhaps wise for dealing with other drivers. “Axes flash, broadswords swing…”

  5. I do understand that, on the other hand I tend to do a lot more driving where there is no traffic; and stirring the blood is a good thing at times, it tends to keep one awake. About the only two songs by the artist formerly known as Heather Alexander that fit the bill are “March of Cambreath” (particularly with the Wicked Tinkers) and “The Hunt is On”. At such times I tend to gravitate to rockabilly and 80’s rock. Stuff with a good foot-stomping, steering wheel pounding beat, but that I can sing along to; serious heavy metal, or foreign language music where I can’t understand enough to sing along with tends to make my sleepy.

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