Wednesday, August 24, 2011

27 Years in the Making: "Highway 1"

In late grade school, when I would finish an assignment early, I frequently asked the teacher if I could go to the resource area and get a World Book encyclopedia to look at.  Specifically, I would look at political maps of states (and providences).

I was enthralled with state geography.  Volume N-O was an absolute goldmine, and either C volume (I think "Ci" was the splitting point) was useful as well.  I’d examine where oceans, lakes, and rivers were located within each state, and speculate how these bodies of water led to population settlement within the states.  I wondered why the population of some metropolitan areas were combined (e.g., Dallas/Fort Worth) while others were distinct (e.g., Baltimore and Washington D.C.).  Sometimes, I designed from scratch new countries: I’d draw a blob on a piece of paper, then add rivers and lakes, political divisions, and population centers—often creating in my head historical explanations for some of the more arbitrary seeming boundaries and population centers.

But what separated me from other children was that I honed in on one particular geographical area of the U.S.: the west coast.  I was especially fascinated by the apparently sparsely populated stretches of coastline between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.  Why were THESE stretches so devoid of large cities?  What were these thin gray roads like?  Could you actually SEE the ocean from these roads, or were they inland just far enough to tease?

I imagined that someday I would find out the answers to these questions firsthand.  That “day” happened during two separate road trips: from LA to San Fran in 2003, and from Seattle to San Fran in 2009.  These drives—on the Pacific Coast Highway 1, as I discovered it was called—were literally the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, a strange childhood infatuation that never faded even after I became a grown up.

Since first making the drive, poetic images related to the drive have been bouncing around in my head, every now and then making their way onto paper.

Perhaps one day I’ll write about the drive in prose form.  Right now, I sorted through some of the ideas and shaped them into some lyrics.  As per my M.O., I’ve got a melody attached to most of the words, and maybe someday this will become an actual song.  Who knows?

As something of a companion piece to this wannabe song, I have more lines and ideas that, when added to this, transform it into full-out poem instead of a lyric.  Whether or not I ever finalize THAT version remains to be seen.  Even this version may find itself revised soon enough.  We’ll see.

But for now, enjoy.


     Highway 1

Highway 1 is for the young and for the ones who might still be
But who can’t believe they might receive the chance
To stand and kiss on a precipice the vast and hopeful sea
Breaking free like waves from chains of circumstance.
It’s for dreamers and for lovers
And those who by life are smothered
Who believe but with their own eyes want to see.
It’s for the hardened and forgiven
For the passive and the driven
It’s for you and, baby, Highway 1’s for me.

So come on, come on, come on let’s go again
And maybe we’ll make it to
That place where we can finally know again
How to dance to all that’s good and true
Finding grace on Highway 1

Against the shore the ocean roars then beckons like a maiden
Whispering to those who sing to music in their heads.
And those who hear can wander near and maybe even wade in
To wash away their guilt and learn to live with hope instead.
It’s for friends and maybe lovers
Hopeful, searching for each other
On roads where neither one has ever been.
It’s for the damaged and forsaken
And those choosing roads less-taken
So let’s drive on down Highway 1 again


You can see a million miles and a million shades of blue
From mountain roads wrapped high above the sea.
Highway 1 is longer than our lists of things to do
It’s for you and, baby, Highway 1’s for me.


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