I most often take you down New Journeys on Old Roads, but in April, you can ride with me along some New Roads I’ve never traveled. We can stop and dip our toe in the Atlantic along Florida’s beaches, breathe in the salty magic of the ocean, ponder the history of the struggles of a people, and feed our soul on the blues music of the Deep South. We’ll drive Atlantic Ocean’s 1-A1 Route viewing Florida’s coastal lighthouses. We’ll visit the sprawling Naval Station Norfolk, largest naval station in the world. At the halfway point of the tour, we’ll enter the southern portion of the 2,000 miles of the Appalachian & Allegheny Mountains. Before I bring you back home, we’ll visit FAME Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals AL and see some musical collections in Memphis. But don’t worry…after I drive you out of the Deep South, we’ll celebrate more music in the dazzling and magical Ozark Mountains before we turn south to the Red River and back to TX.
Magical Musical Historical Tour
Beginning on the Historic Bankhead Highway Route, we’ll leave North TX along I-20 into the East Texas Forests, through Caddo Parish LA along Highway 80 to the Bossier Strip casinos.
We’ll cross the Mississippi River in Vicksburg MS where the river boats roll, and we’ll imagine the captain might be Mark Twain.
Just south of Vicksburg is Natchez, MS. The historic Natchez Trace Parkway is a forest trail extending roughly 440 miles from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi, linking the Cumberland (in TN) and Mississippi Rivers.
At the point where we pull onto the Trace, you’ll need to be ready to pause & reflect upon one of the harshest exercises of US laws—the Indian Removal Act of 1830. By 1838, over 100,000 Native Americans Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole were forcibly relocated from the rich fertile soil of their ancestral homes in the South to a newly cleared desolate dirt land called “Indian Territory” (present day OK). This “herding” has been called the “Trail of Tears”; more than 15,000 died on the trail.
At the Forks of the Road intersection in Natchez, in the decades before the Civil War, this marketplace was where enslaved Africans were brought from southern plantations to be bought & sold. For this reason, The Trace is sometimes referred to as the “Slavery Trail of Tears.” After arriving in the southern part of the Trace, slaves were marched to the Mississippi River to be placed on barges for delivery to owners. The 13th Amendment ended slavery in the US 1865.
I can’t be only a history seeker—I must feed my other passion—MUSIC
The most prominent highway in blues lore was U.S. Highway 61. With the advancement of the automobile & national highway system in the 20s & 30s, the blues, jazz & spirituals by African Americans singing about the riverboats, trains & railroads expanded. The sound, too long trapped in the Deep South, moved along this same trail as other historical migrations. From the Birthplace of the Blues in New Orleans, moving northward through Memphis, St. Louis and eventually to St. Paul changing music for centuries to come.
About 3 hours later, we’ll pull into Selma Alabama, the location of another type of cultural crisis occurring in the 20th century playing out in an ugly horrific scene on March 7, 1965. Known as “Bloody Sunday,” African-Americans seeking voting rights crossed Edmund Pettus Bridge to walk to the capitol in Montgomery. They were met by law enforcement on foot and horseback blocking the way off the bridge; many were beaten including now-congressman John Lewis. By March 21st, accompanied by the Alabama National Guard under federal command, the march was peacefully completed once again led by John Lewis and joined by Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King and Andrew Young. In August 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Voting Act.
The next stop on this Magical Musical Historical Tour is St. Augustine FL. I’ve never traveled to FL so I picked this scenic city with a rich history.
Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States. Its prominence and location made it ripe for trade & settlement but also a target for invaders and pirates. The territory suffered through multiple turmoil during its history including marauding European Empires’ explorers, Civil War Confederacy, the Civil Rights Violence, and persistent developers trying to quickly buy it up as the “winter haven” for the northern rich.
St. Augustine Lighthouse
The scenic drive along the Southeastern Coast’s A-1A features numerous lighthouses–a landmark I try to visit in all my travels.
When we leave St. Augustine by way of US Highway 17, I’ll do my best to not get lost as we cross rivers, inlets and bays tracking along the shore for most of its 1,000 miles parallel to I-95 from Punta Gorda, Florida to Winchester, Virginia. We’ll cover some 665 miles through places which are little more than a small country road, while in others it’s a main thoroughfare. I’ve identified some 15 bridges along the way…and may I say this is a “challenge” for me!
We’ll visit the sprawling Naval Station, the largest Navy station in the world, supporting 75 ships & 134 aircraft alongside – 14 piers and 11 aircraft hangars housing the largest concentration of US Navy forces. The air operations conduct nearly 300 flights a day on average totaling over 100,000 arrivals/departures each year.90 miles southeast of Richmond VA, Norfolk is about 18 miles from the Atlantic Ocean near the popular beach town of Virginia Beach bordered by Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Road Harbor.
Family Time – where life begins and love never ends
(unknown author but I’ve decided to make it mine!)
I’m spending some time with my new great granddaughter. She’s a big part of this journey–pretty good reason.
After a while, we’ll say our goodbyes and I’ll begin a NW route where we’ll encounter the Appalachian Mountains, the Shenandoah River and into the Monongahela National Forest. The Forest comprises 1/3 of the Allegheny Mountains, and, as such, part of the Appalachian Range forming the East Continent Divide.
Family Time – where life begins and love never ends
In Elkins I’ll visit with my son & daughter-in-law who live on a piece of beautiful property backed up to the Monongahela National Forest with their horses & cats. Some TX sized stories will be shared and then I’ll load up for the SW run to TN.
The city of Knoxville is one of the gateways to the Great Smokey Mountain National Park, its location at the confluence of three major rivers in the Tennessee Valley brought flat boat and steamboat traffic creating one of the South Eastern’s merchandising areas. Between the ridge-valley of the Appalachian Mountains and Cumberland Plateau, Chattanooga is called the “Scenic City.
…a musical note here…city made famous in the 1941 song “Chattanooga Choo Choo by Glenn Miller. (if you don’t know or just want to hear again, here’s the song).
What is THE MUSCLE SHOALS SOUND?
It won’t surprise you that my Magical Musical Historical Tour calls for a detour here in Northern AL. It has been said of this lonely-looking building there is a quiet magic in the air. There are tours of this iconic studio so I’m going to experience the magic!
Artists from the Deep South and some from outside the South gathered with the local musicians to create their own sound at FAME (Florence Alabama Music Enterprise).
Detroit rocker Bob Seger’s signature song — “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll” — began as a demo tape at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. An engineer’s mistake gave the song its distinctive da-da-da intro. Seger liked the sound and kept it in the final song.
Over the years, some of the artists who recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio included The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Willie Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joe Cocker, Levon Helm, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart, Cat Stevens, Elton John, Boz Scaggs, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Dr. Hook, Julian Lennon, Oak Ridge Boys, Cher, Alman Brothers, and Glenn Frey
I could talk music all day, but I’ll leave you with a couple sites you can visit for more details.
Bet I’ll be singing some of those great songs recorded at FAME as I turn NW out of AL headed to a sundown in one of the most beautiful river towns in the Deep South—defined as a region stretching from Memphis TN in the north to Vicksburg MS in the south and from Helena AR in the west to the Yazoo River in the east. I’ll be entering the city on part of the Blues Highway 51 that carries the name of the undisputed King of Rock ‘n Roll Elvis Presley Blvd. Highway 51, a north/south terminus, runs parallel with Highway 61 visited in the beginning of this tour
There is no other thing that captures my mind and soul like music. That’s why I keep coming back to revisit the “never-since-replicated” music of the 50s & 60s. Not only is it part of my “coming of age” timeline, but these songs form the base of my musical interests. You’ll remember we began this Magical Musical Historical Tour on the Mississippi & Blues Highway 61. We now come back to visit more of the sounds of the Delta.
This will set the tone for the places I’ll walk:
Scholars disagree as to whether there is a substantial musicological difference between blues that originated in the Mississippi Delta and blues from other parts of the country. They note the defining characteristics of Delta blues are instrumentation and an emphasis on rhythm; the songs are typically expressed in the first person and often concern love, sex, the traveling, lifestyle, life’s tribulations, sin, salvation and death.
The list of musicians who got their start in Memphis reads like a Who’s Who of music royalty. Led by “the King” you can add Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison Booker T & the MGs, Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Percy Sledge, Sam & Dave and B.B. King.
There are so many landmarks to visit, I’ll just mention a few:
- Beale Street (national historical landmark);
- Sam Phillips’ Sun Studio;
- Stax Records (soul sound grittier than Motown);
- Heartbreak Hotel;
I’m taking a tour of the Rock & Soul Museum; here is their site for details. You may want to make the museum part of your next trip.
While lost in my thoughts and the tunes of blues, I must not forget Memphis is home to Tennessee’s largest African-American population and played a prominent role in the American Civil Rights Movement. The city on the Mississippi was the site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination at the Loraine Motel. The city hosts the National Civil Rights Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate institution. There is also an outside museum at the Loraine Motel.
I’ll make my final crossing over the Mississippi as I leave out of Memphis, taking a NW road through the Mark Twain National Forest on Highway 60. That day’s journey will bring me to Branson MO.
It’s been called a “Nashville in the Ozarks” first developed in the 1960s, the theaters of Branson abound with various musical shows, revues & good food on the lake. Theaters bear the names of heavy weights in the industry: Andy Williams Moon River, Glen Campbell Goodtime, Roy Clark, Oak Ridge Boys, Wayne Newton, Ray Stevens, Mel Tillis, Osmond Brothers, Lawrence Welk Orchestra, and Bobby Vinton Blue Velvet.
No matter how I love the music, nothing can surpass the allure of the mist on the Ozarks. Mountains, I hear your song!
This Texan always feels the flat lands of OK/TX calling me home. A turn southwest out of the Ozarks leads you across that territory I first mentioned called “Indian Territory” My grandfather was born there before it became the state of OK.
But we’re not through with rivers yet. We will cross the Arkansas, a major tributary of the Mississippi River flowing east/southeast across Arkansas and Oklahoma. At 1,469 miles (2,364 km), it is the sixth-longest river in the US & the second-longest tributary in the Mississippi-Missouri system…and the 45th longest river in the world.
I know the last river I’ll cross is the one mentioned in the songs of “Western Swing” and “Cowboy Songs” my daddy sang.
Waylon Jennings sings about that place in his lyrics:
But when you cross that ol’ Red River hoss, That just don’t mean a thing
Once you’re down in Texas, Bob Wills is still the King
Crossing the Red River joining OK/TX makes my heart beat a little faster, my feet feel more solid, and draws my gaze to the sparce vegetation. We’ll quickly begin to see a line of 200-300 ft wind turbines utilizing all the wind-swept vastness of these plains.
Magical Musical Historical Tour
As a seeker of history, I must remain open to other’s stories and other’s experiences. That is the only way we humans can mend our differences and understand what happens around us.
The musical portion is not a side “note” for me but an integral part of my being. I listen to music not only for the beat or rhythm but for the depth of someone’s soul displayed in the sounds of words or relationship of the notes & chords that come forth.
If you have visited some of these areas, please let me know of your experience. I’ll come back to this post and give you some highlights of this
Note: please read my comment policy under “My Rules”
When I find it hard to go on without those who’ve gone,
I turn to songs.
I mix a potion to heal my wounded heart by melding
lyrics to those songs.
When I seek to bring hope and peace to others,
I write words that rhyme.
But when I try to say how you touched my life,
I find the music is out of tune and out of time.
I know this dissonance surely can’t be right.
But I know One who can calm the troubled shores~
One who loves no matter what – and then even more~
One who says, “You don’t have to do it all alone.”~
I’ll stay with you through the darkness of the journey home.
I can feel when we’ve turned the corner into light.
I reach deep inside for the music that strengthens my heart.
I listen quietly, the prayers take rise, and the music starts.
With your memory close inside me for the lonely times,
I’ll come back again and sing to you the words I’ve I turned into rhymes.
People pray for it
They write about it
Some curse it
Many welcome it
Some run through it
Some run into it
Some run from it
What is the one thing that can elicit the most
It’s simply RAIN
As a child did you ever sing
“rain, rain go away; come again some other day.”
Learn to live in it
Try to praise it
write odes to it
sing about it
It’s only RAIN!
It will pass
it will end
it will move on
Don’t be caught
looking the other way
or you’ll miss the very best thing
of all about rain…
Later in this column, I’ll give you the scientific definition of WIND. But for the moment, think about wind only as a source of energy—something we can’t see but can feel. I consider it the most mysterious of weather conditions. Where is it? If it can be so powerful, why can’t we see it?
This winter of 2013/2014 has proved to be one of the most extreme weather patterns in recent years (in some cases decades).
Mostly we consider wind to be the “source” that:
- messes up our hair
- takes the dirt/dust in the air and collects it on our cars,
- sends the pollens into our red, watery, itchy eyes.
It is also that thing which causes your little speeding golf ball to take an unruly path away from the hole on the green.
And you may remember the frustration of trying to fly a kite which is difficult with too little or too much wind.
For all the things we can blame on wind, I want to consider it’s positive force—how it makes you feel. Whether you think of wind as in the concept of power or gusts or you think of it as a whisper fluttering the leaves, it undeniably has power like no other part of nature.
To me it is the way I feel in the wind. I know, scientifically, there is energy and power in the wind. But to feel the wind as it touches my face and body, to let it drift over my mind and thoughts, just to see it moving the other elements of nature is so representative of a force greater than you and I.
It seems to have the ability to make my mind clear – like clearing out the cobwebs. It actually affects my body & health. It takes only a few minutes outside in quiet solitude before I feel as if I’d done spring cleaning in my thoughts completely removing the problems and worries and enjoying the deep breaths I draw.
Regeneration is a word that reminds me of what “wind” does for me.
Let’s think about when wind mixes with a particular element–that brings on a whole new meaning.
- If it is snow blowing and swirling, then we have a blizzard;
- if it is sand or dirt blowing, then we have a dust storm;
- if it is rain that is moving with the wind, it may result in tornadic or hurricane force winds.
- The coolness of an autumn breeze;
- the snow moved softly by the wind;
- the pollen pushed forth by the blowing;
- the rain shower that blows upon us for only minutes.
Like most of us in the US, I’m awaiting those days that will soon burst forth giving us more pollen, more rain, more movement than has laid below our frozen tundra and iced vegetation. As the Spring of 2014 drifts upon us in a few more days (weeks), I hope I will be able to appreciate what the wind provides for us and greet it with welcoming smiles.
Wind dusts off, cleans away, and refreshes the earth as well as our body. The power of the wind reminds me the source of all wind (all energies) is controlled by my Creator and that God is the maker and purveyor of this earth.
Scientific Information about wind: For any of you who wish to read a “scientific Description” of wind, you may click this link. It seemed to me to be very mysterious in its definition—a little like wind seems to me! http://www.weatherquestions.com/What_causes_wind.htm
For the wordsmiths among us, here are other words for wind:
breath ♦ breeze ♦ draft ♦ ozone ♦ puff ♦ blast ♦ waft ♦
whirlwind cyclone ♦ flutter ♦ cyclone ♦ flutter ♦ tempest ♦
typhoon ♦ zephyr ♦ ventilation ♦ chinook ♦
Wind has so many attributes and has often been used in music & poetry.
One of the songs about “wind” is represented in the1969 Hollywood film “Paint Your Wagon” (They Call the Wind) Maria (pronounced /məˈraɪ.ə/) performed by Harve Presnell. Here is a video of that performance.
The exact opposite of Maria is when “wind” brings us the soft, wistful thoughts. “The Breeze & I are whispering goodbye…” For those who want to dance in the breeze, I’ve included that haunting melody here
The Breeze and I - words by Al Stillman, music by Ernesto Lecuona music written in 1929 as a piano piece called "Andaluza,"part of the Andalucia Suite by the Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona - words added later by Al Stillman - sung here by Caterina Valente, 1953
The breeze and I are saying with a sigh
That you no longer care
The breeze and I are whispering goodbye
To dreams we used to share
Ours was a love song that seemed constant as the moon
Ending in a strange, mournful tune
And all about me, they know you have departed without me
And we wonder why, the breeze and I
The breeze and I
Here is a little known fact related to weatherology:
As mentioned, the song “They Call the Wind Maria” was featured in the 1969 Hollywood film “Pain Your Wagon, starring Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood and Jean Seberg. It was George Rippey Stewart’s 1941 novel Storm, in which he presents the storm which is the protagonist of his story and named it “Maria” (pronounced /məˈraɪ.ə/).
In 1947, Stewart wrote a new introduction for a reprint of the book, and discussed the pronunciation of “Maria”:
“The soft Spanish pronunciation is fine for some heroines, but our Maria here is too big for any man to embrace and much too boisterous.” He went on to say, “So put the accent on the second syllable, and pronounce it ‘rye'”
The success of Stewart’s novel was one factor that motivated U.S. military meteorologists to start the informal practice of giving women’s names to storms in the Pacific during World War II. The practice became official in 1945. In 1953, a similar system of using women’s names was adopted for North Atlantic storms. This continued until 1979, when men’s names were incorporated into the system.
Think about how the wind moves through nature and through you.
Sometimes our fate resembles the fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom; but we hope it; we know it.
Johann Wolfgang van Goethe
In every winter’s heart, there is a quivering spring and behind the veil of night there is a smiling dawn.
If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.
click link below to hear musical version of Joyce Kilmer’s ONLY GOD CAN MAKE A TREE featuring Mario Lanza, recorded 1952
Printed Lyrics to Only God Can Make a Tree
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the sweet Earth’s flowing breast
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair
Upon whose bosom snow has lain
Who intimately lives with rain
Poems are made by fools like me
But only God can make a tree
Joyce Kilmer (born as Alfred Joyce Kilmer; 6 December 1886 – 30 July 1918) was an American writer and poet mainly remembered for a short poem titled "Trees" (1913), which was published in the collection Trees and Other Poems in 1914.
You Are Not Alone…
[Before you begin to read this, click the video below, open it and let it play while you read. Chopin touches my heart in a spiritual way!]
A comparison to music and dreams may seem a bit strange, but I believe they are very much alike. And I like the idea that a dream is akin to music notes flying across time and space. Some say that musicians and dreamers are less than realistic emphasizing both pursuits are a bit ambiguous and elusive. True, you can’t hold them or look at them or put them in a box…but the results born out of either is like unto love…and that is real.
You may have experienced that life puts you right in the middle of living with no time for fanciful things–like dreaming. I was one of those giving excuses for holding my dreams inside of me letting them become distant and unattended. I had hushed the joy of my melody by keeping the music silent.
Then, circumstances changed. Even after I had the opportunity to sing my song for all to hear, I hesitated. Sometimes we actually are afraid of our dreams…we are afraid to make the music if others will hear it. We’re a little embarrassed about what we think is good and maybe someone else would call it shallow, inferior. Even after I’d found the time to pursue my dream, it took me a while to be brave enough to step into the abyss of my imagination. So just recently I found a way to put a life-time dream into action, and the music (words) began to flow freely…and you’re reading it now!
I believe the words I write are like music playing all across the internet – straight from my heart to yours.
I INVITE YOU to dream, make the music, take the chance, play the song even if it is not yet concert worthy. For living your dream is the most satisfying and joyous thing you can do. Sad that we give in to denying ourselves the joy; but how much more lovely our world would be if we did not hold our dreams and music hostage inside us. To make the world more beautiful and peaceful, we must set them free.
YOU HAVE A PLACE YOU CAN SPEAK YOUR DREAM, YOUR WISH, YOUR HEART’S DESIRE.
On this blog, you can leave your dream. You can test out your ideas. This is a place you can share with others.
Like a secret, some say a dream loses its strength if you share it. Others say it confirms its validity when you hear it echoed from your thoughts into words. Again, this is how dreams are like music. Imagine this…the music is there even before the piano key is pressed, before the strings are strummed or the voice emits a sound.
You may have a valid point when you say you’re hesitating because someone else is squashing your ideas and dreams. I understand that. I’ve been in that place. It takes a strong belief in yourself, your self-worth, your abilities, and a lot of extra effort to dig out of such a negative place.
Here, I may need to remind you:
what is inside of you is yours…you must own it, defend it, direct it and it’s no one else’s responsibility. Therefore, you cannot blame your failure to try upon someone else. Well, you can, but it does nothing to promote achievement of your personal goals. And it’s no one else’s business how you dream your dream. How do you know if a dream is worth the effort? If it burns inside of you, then it’s worthy.
After you have established the belief that your dreams are worth pursuing, the next step is to research it, check out others who are doing what you want to do, read their stories, play their compositions. The struggle others have experienced and the roads they have traveled to victory is an important lesson for you to know. Maybe it’s time to let what’s inside you have its voice and let it go where it may. Think how many you could influence if you put feet to that dream and wings to that music
I will publish your wish, your dream, your goal so others may see faith in action.
Or if you just want to write it down and don’t want the world to know, I will keep it safe for you.
If you are in the midst of that negative place, read about others who found the strength to work their way out. If you doubt your abilities, go ahead and try; you will either succeed or fail. If you want to make the music, find a quiet place and begin your symphony. Starting over or stepping onto another path is never easy, but what awaits is pure joy and peace.Let the music out of your soul~ Let it fly across the world to others.
“Don’t die with the music still in you.” Wayne W. DyerBy clicking “Leave a Comment“ beside the title of this story, you can leave your dream for safe keeping or to share with others. I will leave this as the top story for a month for you to write, revisit, share with others, and say what you wish to about your dreams or the music you are composing in your life. You may also follow me on Twitter by clicking the “Follow Me on Twitter” on my home page or by clicking this link: https://twitter.com/VanHessTXred You may follow this blog by e-mail and be notified when new posts are published.
© Van Hess and New Journeys On Old Roads, 2013-14
There are angels among us and
Christmas wishes can come true
Hope your many wishes, prayers and thoughts are strengthened with the joy of knowing it’s possible. There’s nothing as precious as wishes made in your heart at Christmas time.
May peace fill your mind and heart today and for every day of the year(s) ahead. There is no greater peace than what God offers.
Whisper a prayer, and let this angel deliver it to the heart that needs it most…I just did and sent it to you..
One of my all-time favorite singers with a great song. Thanks, B. J. Thomas, for all the music through the years…and for this particular one!
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14 KJV