Thursday, September 8, 2011

Scratchin' That Nomad Itch - On The Road With My Favorite Music

OK - Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I would like to say it's because I have been really busy but that would not be the truth now would it? No, I have mastered the art of of Doing Nothing since my last post. I do have one excuse, however. My brother, Errol, named after the swashbuckling actor Errol Flynn (well he does have a mustache), asked my wife and me to spend a couple of days at a rental condo in Navarro Beach, a small quiet beachfront area on the Gulf of Mexico. I don't know what it is about my brother, but he just makes me laugh - sometimes with actual tears.  He is one of those guys that has never met a stranger and looks at the world through very clear, succinct glasses and has an opinion on everything. We argue a lot and there are so many things we don't have in common, but, since I was a kid, he has always been my go to guy and best friend, although we did have a rough patch in my brain dead twenties. Anyway, we have traveled to various things over the years - ball games and such and we just fit. It's always great conversation and laughs galore. And, he has an uncanny knack for finding good restaurants in unlikely places. As a matter a fact, we drove over to nearby Pensacola to a fabulous seafood restaurant that he had found on a previous visit. Always a good thing for a Nomad in search of sustenance.

Anyway, we had a great time with him and his understanding wife, Pat, who, along with my wife, Susie, just sit in utter amazement that we can talk without ceasing about the most unimportant things. It's bonding at it's best between a Nascar loving, football loving salesman extraordinaire and football loving architect who would rather go to a museum rather than watch any car race. I guess blood really is thicker than water.

This year, we have traveled mostly to be with family. In April, we went to London and the UK to see our daughter and the empire. Fourth of July, we went to visit great relatives in a great house on Lake Blackshear, Georgia, enjoy great southern cooking and catch up on the busy lives of people that will be with us through thick and thin. And now, we are preparing to leave tomorrow for beautiful Hilton Head Island, South Carolina to hook up with my favorite son, Lance, and his soon bride to be, the very stylish and happening Tara, for  a few days of bliss at the beach. The only unfortunate thing is that my favorite daughter, Lauren, is still in England, but we plan to Skype her so we can tell her we love her and miss her and see if we can make her cry! With the busy lives we all have, it is hard to get together with those you care about the most. But get together you must!! We try to go somewhere different every year. It broadens us as people and brings us closer as a family.

I know that writing about one's family can be tedious to the reader, so I will stop now. If you haven't stopped reading by now, I will get to my focus in this post - Road Music. If you follow this blog at all, you have probably figured out that I am a lover of great music of all kinds. As long as it is good and real. Back in the fifties and sixties, traveling by car and listening to the radio was a diverse adventure into late night DJ's and the unique music they played, depending on what region of the country you were in.  The radio was your ear to the world of entertainment and what was happening in the ether. I have fond memories of late night travel to Gatlinburg for our annual camping trip, riding in the back seat of my father's Cadillac, listening to the renown JOHN R, a brash, resin throated DJ on WLAC from Nashville. He played rhythm and blues that NOBODY would ever hear in my home town of Tallahassee. I was mesmerized by this exotic voice introducing the latest "hits" from the likes of Muddy Waters or Howlin' Wolf. My love of rhythm and blues and soul music combined with regular exposure to great southern gospel groups like The Statesman Quartet and The Blackwood Brothers, usually in a town far away from home, gave me a love for great music of all genres.

I grew up in the sixties, the greatest decade of revolution in popular music ever. The Beatles, The Stones, Hendrix, Joplin. The list of ground breaking innovators is deep and wide. Later, I would come to love jazz, classical and real country, especially from Texas. If I had all the money spent on albums, eight tracks, cassettes, CD's and downloads- Well you know the rest if that story.

Unfortunately, the magic of radio, which was such a part of our culture in the fifties and sixties, has all but dissappeared. Yes, we have the "the decades" music from Sirius/XM and the  occasional local radio station committed to playing real music, but, Video did, indeed, Kill the Radio Star. Today's world of digital downloads and You Tube has rendered the eccentricity of "late night radio" obsolete. However, like all changes brought about by marketing and technology, we must embrace progress. With the advent of technology, we have the ability to listen to virtually anything at any time. It has provided yet another way to spend money on the latest and greatest download from our favorite artists. And I Think To Myself - What A Wonderful World!

So, with all of this music at out fingertips, how, you may ask, do we decide on the absolute "must haves" from our vast collection of music to make a thing go right? I have always maintained that getting there is half the fun, except when flying coach. A live performance by Diana Krall herself on a Trans-Atlantic Delta flight can not change the fact that, in a Post 911 World, flying just sucks. If we believe, like true Nomads, that getting there is, indeed, half the fun, then great music is a critical component in our quest for the perfect road trip. As an Architect, I love - no - I adore lists. I am an  obsessive maker of lists for every activity you can ever think of. In that vain, I give you my:


1) James Taylor - Live - My choice for the best road record of all time. The voice, the band, the songs. It's all good. And everybody can sing along without feeling cheesy.
2) Roy Orbison - Black & White - Backed by the likes of Springsteen, KD Lang, Tom Waits and others, one of the greatest rockers of all time sings all of his hits.
3) Lyle Lovett - Pontiac - The thinking man's country artist. Irony and images of Texas love and life  combined with with one of the most unique voices in country music is a must for the true Nomad.
4) The Beatles - The White Album - This one is hard because The Beatles never recorded a bad song, but, this one is still my favorite.
5) The Eagles - Hell Freezes Over - All the hits with amazing vocals and the band has never been better. A very singable album. Crank this one up to get everybody juiced for the next hundred miles.
6) Joe Cocker - Mad Dogs and Englishman - This is simply the greatest live rock album ever made. You have to play it loud and louder!
7) Lyle Lovett - Joshua, Judges, Ruth - Lyle gets two on the list. This album has more irony than a Dennis Miller monologue. 
8) The Traveling Wilburys - The Traveling Wilburys - Dylan, Petty, Orbison, Lynne. 'Nuff Said.
9) The Doors - Strange Days - From The Lizard King - 60's psychedelic rock at its best. No smoking while driving!!
10) Quincy Jones - Q's Juke Joint - Big band, jazz, great singers. It's one of the best from a true genius.
11) Tom Jones - Reloaded:Greatest Hits - No Top 25 List would be complete without a record from one of the truly great voices of pop, rock, soul and funk. He delivers like no other.
12) Steely Dan - Two Against Nature - This record shows that post modern music still has all the cool and strange lyrics, as well as the usual tight musicianship we expect from Becker and Fagan.
13) Cleveland Orchestra - The Beethoven Symphonies - One of the great orchestras of the world. The greatest composer of all time. The Fifth is other worldly and The Ninth is heaven.
14) Marty Stuart & The Fabulous Superlatives - Soul's Chapel - Combining old school southern gospel with soulful musicality, this album just makes you feel better.
15) George Michael - Faith - One of the great pop records of all time. Crank it up to cure the road wearies.
16) Diana Krall - All For You: A Dedication to the Nat King Cole Trio - This debut release by the best looking piano player on the planet is mesmerizing. She can sing pretty good too.
17) Michael Buble - Call Me Irresponsible - The modern day Sinatra will keep you feeling good no matter how long the trip seems.
18) Delbert McClinton - Room To Breathe - The Texas country/blues singer delivers pain and love like no other. Perfect for late night when everyone else is asleep.
19) Stevie Ray Vaughn - In Step - The House Is A Rockin' says it all.
20) Bonnie Raitt - Nick of Time - A classic painful, soulful voice with some serious blues guitar makes this album a must for the road.
21) Little Willies - Little Willies - Norah Jones, with her "little group on the side". A record with great lyrics and stories. The song "Lou Reed" about  "The Walk on The Wild Side" guy cow tipping is worth the price.
22) Prince - Musicology - From a long, eccentric career, this album combines Prince's creative genius with Old School Funk. You cannot go to sleep while listening to this great album by The Purple One.
23) Robert Plant & Allison Krauss - Raising Sand - Combine rock legend Robert Plant with  Bluegrass Chanteuse Allison Krauss and throw in legendary Producer T Bone Burnett and you have an album of amazing power and relevance.
24) Russ Taff - Under Their Influence - One of the true original voices of real gospel. Old school combined with new life.
25) The Flatlanders - Wheels of Fortune - Great songs about life from the West Texas trio of Joe Ely, Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

So there you have it. Grab the music, load up the CD Player or plug in the MP3 and take to your road less traveled. Just remember - If you can't here the music - You can't see the light.

Happy Listening Nomads!!

the nomadARCHITECT