The first time I remember peering out of a car window was through the glass of a 1968 Chrysler Newport. I saw the hills of West Virginia from the undulated, frost-heaved rural routes of Monongalia County. And it must have made an impression somewhere deep in the cerebellum because I have flashes of memories, shadows really, of mountains and coal.
However, it was through the narrow panes of a 1972 VW Camper that the view of the road was first coupled with what would be the future soundtrack of my life. More than my eyes were opened through the windshield view of that off-white hippie bus, travelling the moss laden Live Oaks of the Florida Panhandle. Apollo was in the heavens and the King was still alive. The landscape drew out before me with the sounds of Jim Croce, John Denver, Harry Chapin and yes, the Fifth Dimension’s Aquarius. To see the open road through the window of a freedom machine makes a powerful impression to be sure, but to do so in quadraphonic 8 track splendor creates something far richer. It creates a spark that serves to catalyze wonder and calibrate the soul. And oh, did it ever do so for me.
I have now seen more than three additional decades of views out what seems like one thousand windshields listening to ten thousand songs. I have seen through windshields distorted with the wide-eyed and arrogant vision of an over-reaching young songwriter and through windshields unforgiving with the bloodshot eyes of an exhausted million mile troubadour.
The list of sites seen on my own are for another blog with lots of room and patient readers, but rest assured they are mainly night scenes leaving triumphantly or in despair. Night scenes sometimes from the right side of the road and sometimes the left side, depending on the state of mind or country I was in. Much to my luck (deserving or otherwise) the night scenes have always ended in the sun.
Now I have the honor and great relief to look through the windshield of a band van, complete with true companions of the road. We see the burning carcasses of eighteen wheelers, the slow-moving bumpers of the nondescript who are not driving with similar eagerness and even the bright orange warning signs hanging uncomfortably upon the back of Amish buggies. We have seen mountains, rivers, oceans, concrete and harvest moons so full they look as though they have been dash-mounted and radio back-lit. However to travel with Runaway Home is to travel not only by highways, green rooms and stages, but by living rooms and kitchen tables. Thus affording us a chance to see into the lives of new-found friends and in the end, into our own reflection.
Though we occasionally check the rear view mirror careful to arrive safe, we know that the most accurate view of the world today and tomorrow, is forward facing through the windshield of whatever carries the music to the next willing ear and the lyric and melody to the next song.
Mark Elliott – Runaway Home
It’s the music that makes us smile”