Listen to WIDE OPEN ROAD by The Triffids.
Jason dropping in.
With Corbett doing a stellar job on road tunes this week (I'm a big Mamas & Papas fan), I figured I would try and stick with the theme.
I was talking to a translucent friend of mine yesterday (who asked me to refer to him only as "the guitarist from London's premier funk rock band - stage name: Bastion Highwalk") about my song selection and he wondered if picking a song called "Wide Open Road" was taking "Road Tunes" too literally. But I travelled heavily in the 90s, and I would spend weeks in advance of those trips making road tune compilations on TDK (A)D90 cassette tapes for my beaten Sony WM FX36 (with anti-rolling mechanism!*). This song was a staple on each trip - and it is a road tune with a twist: this is about a man moving because of obsession.
The Triffids formed in Perth, Australia, in the late 70s. Our featured song is from the album "Born Sandy Devotional" which is of a style that makes you reach for adjectives - no better described than here:
"Sprawling, expressive, unique and beautiful. But the LP - and indeed the Triffids whole career - has been boiled down to one song 'Wide Open Road' and even that probably doesn't get the attention it deserves......The record is dominated by themes of landscape and loneliness doused in alcohol..... Unafraid to be beautiful. Unafraid to be aching."
It is this aching, in a dusty and barren musical landscape, that really captures me. The openness created by the music is in stark contrast to the constricted fixation that now consumes this man after his woman hits the road with another.
I lost track of my friends, I lost my kin
Cut them off as limbs
I drove out over the flatlands
Hunting down you and him
(That last line........)
And so every day he wakes,
thinking I'm still by your side
I reach out just to touch you
only to be hit by the Groundhog Day realisation again and again and again, knowing that he would impose this suffering on himself once more.
But it is these four lines below, played as I would pass through the landscapes on my own travels, that gave me the evocation that I, too, could be free:
The sky was big and empty
My chest filled to explode
I yelled my insides out at the sun
At the wide open road
Photo: Thar Desert, Jaisalmer, India. Taken by Jason Bryant.
* whatever that is