Travel Songs 3: Road Spirituality

As June comes to an end the strawberries start to go downhill. There’s so many just sitting there in the fields that it would be a waste to let them all rot away. So we pick them all, hoping to make jam. For three hours I toil with some Mexican girls and I just about finish a bucket. The girls speak in Spanish to each other and laugh. I know what they’re laughing about. They’ve picked 4 buckets in the exact same space of time. I feel dejected.

To make jam the strawberries first have to be stored, refrigerated, frozen. The equipment doesn’t exist on the farm so we have to transport 20 buckets of strawberries to another farm. 45 minutes away. I decide to take the journey with the farmer’s daughter Alana. A teenage girl who loves to act like she’s not amused by my joking even though deep down I know that she always is.

As we leave the farm, strawberries packed, the magic hour begins. In the film business the magic hour is the last hour of sunshine in the day. Light doesn’t seem to work in quite the same way as it does the rest of the day and a warm golden glow seeps over the land creating soft beautiful shadows everywhere.

This hour is the best for filming as the light isn’t too intense. It’s also the best for driving as it makes landscapes look amazing.

We head up into the hills along quiet highways that pass through long green fields. Alana likes to be in control, especially of the radio. I ask if I can change the station “no, it stays on that station!” I ignore her and go to change it anyway and she swats my hand away. “Don’t touch my radio.”

I give up and settle into the ride. We talk about all the things you usually talk about on a long ride. Nothing important. Our words travel out of the car window with the wind but end up nowhere, forgotten.

Suddenly a song comes on the radio. Carly Simon’s. You’re So Vain. Alana pushes the volume up. “I love this song.”

I grunt. The song starts. Alana sings along concentrating on the road. I concentrate with her, no longer thinking that we’re driving but just slowly finding myself pulled in by the rhythm of the song with the road. Everything merges into one experience and I feel so present in the moment. Not a thought enters my mind. I just feel like I am there.

Eventually the moment ends along with the song. Quickly I pull down the volume and Alana scowls.

“I enjoyed that song” I say. Alana smiles.

I continue “I mean. I REALLY enjoyed it.”
“Ok, I get it. You enjoyed the song.”
“No, you don’t understand.  You know, it’s just that song. It’s almost timeless. When we listened to it it was like the whole world didn’t exist, it was just us, the road, the trees. We were in this beaten up van that could be from any time and we were just. Gone for a second. You know? ”
Alana looks at me as though I’m crazy, I probably am. I continue “You know, listening to a song can be a really intimate experience. I thought that was. To me it was. Wasn’t it to you? You know? Sitting in silence with another person and listening to something. Really listening. Really feeling it. Really being there. It’s…personal. It’s intimate. Ok I’ll shut up, I’m scaring you.”
“Oh, I’m just impressed you got all this from a Carly Simon song.”
“You just don’t understand. It’s intimate.”

I think we’ve all had that moment though. When you’re on a journey with somebody and you just stop talking for a while. Stop thinking. Just concentrating on the road in front of you, the song. Living the road and song one line at a time. I’m not crazy.

The next song comes on the radio. Madonna. Crazy For You. After my speech we both study the song intently in silence.

“Swaying room as the music starts
Strangers making the most of the dark
Two by two their bodies become one.

I laugh out loud. “What’s so funny?” asks Alana.
“This isn’t intimate. It’s just seedy.”

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