Monday, January 28, 2008

Good Earth Rider

I had to drive to Quartzsite today on business. On the way there I took the shortest route, west from Phoenix on Interstate 10. Not the most exciting drive, but the desert all around me looked renewed by the recent rains - greener than I've seen it in years. On the way home I took the longer scenic route along old U.S. 60, through Brenda and Salome and Wenden and Wickenburg, then back down to Phoenix. On that return trip, I had John Stewart on the CD player: the "California Bloodlines" album in its entirety, most of "Willard", and highlights from "The Phoenix Concerts". Driving the two-lane road through those small towns, looking at the fields and orchards, the farmers in mud-covered pickup trucks, kids just getting out of school, the desert coming back to life, the massive hulk of the Harquahala Mountains wrapped in clouds, good Mexican food in Wickenburg, the Hassayampa River in flood... it was perfect. John Stewart's America is still out there, if you look hard enough. Get off of the freeways and out of the "stinking concrete cities" this weekend (or whenever you can) and you'll see what I mean.


Jimmy said...

Nice road trip, Tom. Thanks for taking us along.
John Stewart's music sounds like the perfect soundtrack for such a drive.

Lowell said...

I agree, thanks for the road summary Tom. Another good John Stewart "road song CD" is "Rough Sketches from Route 66." That CD has "Spirit of the Road," "Neon Road," "Johnny Flamingo on the Blue Dream Road," "The Road," and many other good road songs.

Jimmy, on another subject; nice article you wrote for the North Scottsdale times (last October) about the A-10 Thunderbolt that flew out of Arizona and went down in 1997 in Colorado on a training mission. A very strange event.

Mariah said...

"Oh Mother Country I do love you..."

Tom, what an eloquent picture of your trip with John Stewart (o: through the desert. I pulled out all my old John Stewart lps, California Bloodlines being my absolute favorite. I first heard him, of course, on the KRUX Underground that Bill Compton did, if memory serves...or a little later when KCAC was on Camelback or at Wallich's.

I had a funky Panasonic portable compact turntable/radio I lugged around with me 'cause my beat up VW didn't have a radio. Driving up to Prescott College (the hippie dippy college of the day) to see some older pals (not by much!) we'd go over to Lynx Lake, pull out the ol' Panasonic and let California Bloodlines play again and again and again.

The scratches that old 'turntable' made in my record are still much in evidence...still I play her on my now 'vintage' but still great to use JVC turntable. On the back of the worn out cover, along with my initials is a note to myself saying where I first heard it...Bill Compton of course.

Stewart used to play often at Scottsdale's Anderson's Fifth Estate (I don't know if it's still there.) They brought him, Doc & Merle Watson, Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, Kenny Rankin and a bunch of others. I think John Stewart was always the biggest draw.

They say we have 'sense memories' in our bodies, and it's true for me with John Stewart.
As I write this I can feel the youthful butterflies in my stomach, driving out of the city on my way to hang out with my fellow travelers who understood
exactly what it meant to have those California Bloodlines coursing through us.


Anonymous said...

Well, I'm coming back into the loop after being netless in Bisbee.
John Stewarts passing was a real shock to me also...California Bloodlines gets played several times a week for its warm reminders of better times. We brought John for his first time in the Valley at Big Surf, Labor Day 1970 and were rained out and he was only able to do a few tunes before the deluge swamped him and the whole show. Tom Story still has the photos of that soggy, sorry weekend. Jon Sargent was booking entertainment at JD's so he came over and whisked John over there where he did a show. Saw John several times at Andersons when Dennis Kenmore was his drummer...Very sad that we will not have any more of his incredable songwriting to warm our nights and move our Knights over to the side of the road, know what I mean ?

Best to all...Great to be back and catching up with what ya'll been yacking aboutin my absence...

Bob Gately