“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain until you see their specks dispersing? It’s the too huge world vaulting us, and it’s goodbye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
–Jack Kerouac, On The Road.
So once again, it is–to paraphrase Jack Kerouac—October in the Railroad Earth. It is the time people of all sorts and stripes venture to Lowell, MA to celebrate Kerouac in the town he grew up in. For 25 years now, a particular organization has run a week long celebration in Lowell of Kerouac every October. I like to think they are celebrating the spirit of squeezing all you can from the experience of Life. Or shall we say, the quest for an experience that goes beyond ordinary, beyond the Status Quo.
In our Northeastern neck of the woods, this is the time of year when just taking a walk outside can feel a little…extra. I’m talking the glorious Autumn skies of New England—whose broad, clear blue canvas with the scent of technicolor foliage and baseball playoffs in the air–can make you breathe deeply of Life’s elixir. It is a time and season that feels extra exhilarating just to be in it.
So between the vividness of Autumn in New England and the annual October celebration of Kerouac, it is time to think of songs that connect to the notion of Life as a journey to experience. I’ve jotted a few ideas down below. And I eagerly welcome yours. Traveling the road can mean so much more than going from home to work to school and back. And sometimes the most interesting discoveries are made when you get lost…
Patty Larkin – The Road
Neil Young – The Painter
Tom Waits – Old ’55
Peter Case – Traveling Light
Joni Mitchell – Amelia
Tom Rush – On The Road Again (with it’s descriptions of Boston roadways…)
The Decemberists – Old New England (same note as Tom Rush song)
Shawn Colvin – Your New Thing Now
Mark Knopfler – Privateering
Joni Mitchell – Urge For Going (covered by Tom Rush and many others;
also a good song for saying goodbye to summer)
and of course:
Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard – These Roads Don’t Move (from the album One Fast Move Or I’m Gone–
Music From Kerouac’s Big Sur).
No doubt these are just the tip of the iceberg.
Happy Autumn! And happy travels, literal and figurative.