I’ve been traveling a lot lately, Within the last year, I’ve done the whole East Coast tour of Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island (trying to find Quahog), New York (Albany and NYC), Mass (Boston and Springfield). I probably liked Boston the most, I did also have a Midwest experience more recently, spending time in downtown Cincinnati, and an even more recent trip to San Diego, where I have to go back at the beginning of next month. I’ve been all over the place, more for adventure than enjoyment, business over pleasure. I always end up here in California, it’s my home, I know everyone here, especially in my town, and even though it’s not the best place to live, there’s some real people here and a lot fo independent culture, Sacramento is right for me, at least for now.
One of my biggest adventures was taking a Greyhound bus from Albany, New York to Sacramento, CA. It took about 4 days and I went through just about every major city in the country, and had just about enough time to visit a local bar in each one. It was hell on earth, and I plan to write more about it once I’ve recovered from the psychological scars… well, it wasn’t that bad, but it was bad. The trip did grant me the one thing I love the most about traveling, meeting new people. I’m generally very friendly and find conversations with other friendly people to be a great way to pass the time. I talk about myself a lot, and even cutting out all of the niche things about me like transitioning or being a well-known AB/DL personality, I generally get a big ego stroke about how fascinating my life is compared to your average joe/jane six-pack. And as an added note, I’m never taking greyhound again, not even across the street. If the cities about to be destroyed and the only way out is greyhound buses, I’d just stretch out my legs at home, seriously, I’d rather fucking die.
Let me get back to the point. I’ve been traveling a lot lately, and the soundtrack to my travels is a key element. I have a crappy 2gig MP3 player I bought on the street in Boston but it’s provided me with some great emotional cues, such as listening to Aesop Rock while walking the streets in Brooklyn, Lou Reed on the Chelsea Piers, Modest Mouse in the lonesome crowded Midwest, Sublime in Ocean Beach San Diego, and my two favorite mass transportation songs, “Band on the Run” by Wings and “America” by Paul Simon. Music makes the feelings I have more than feelings (I listened to Boston on top of the Fenway stadium, amazing) it makes them into moments, moments I can still feel when I think about them or hear the song, things that are going to be with me until I can’t remember things anymore.
One song in particular by a relatively unknown to the populace but required listening for hipsters and indie kids, The Mountain Goats, has been on constant rotation in my life. It’s basically just John Darnielle and friends, and he’s produced over 20 albums over the last 2 decades. “Color in your Cheeks” is a song that represents myself at one point, and the kindness I’ve felt from strangers. It’s simply about a couple that takes in travelers from all over and shows them the kindness and care that human beings should naturally show each other. It’s from the simple but eloquent album “All Hail West Texas”. The album begins with 2 other great songs, one about a star high-school running back who injures his knee, makes new friends then does federal time for selling acid, and another about two young friends who are ostracized for their innocent love of death metal. This kind of music I consider to be the purest, an expression of one persons perceptions about the world and the life they’ve lead, I feel this music speaks for me.
Here’s a free download of the full album of “All Hail West Texas” I’ve purchased this record, as well as his 2004 We Shall All Be Healed multiple times for friends, so if this music effects you as it has me, please support him, John Darnielles music is going to be rediscovered by every generation for years to come and it’s all pure love.
Thanks for reading, I’m back and settled in California, happy to be home