Friday, 5 November 2010

‘Driving along in my automobile’

I have a terrible confession to make, and it causes me great stress to have to admit to it.

During my three weeks of travel state side the sound track of my whole trip was laid down by a digital radio station called ‘Prime Country’.

Now before you turn off your computer in disgust never to return let me at least try to defend myself…… least try.

Forgive me if you are reading this in the USA, as I know that Country & Western is very much the back bone of music for a large proportion of the populace, but bear with me.

Also in regards to my American friends, I know that there are a fair few of you, but I have always endeavoured to be honest with you and I have to state this as fact, American television is dreadful!! I don’t mean the programmes themselves, to be fair we get most of them over here a month or so later anyway, what I am referring to is the amazing amount of commercial breaks the programmes get.

In the UK, during an hour long episode of a programme such as ‘House’ we get four ad breaks each lasting approximately 4 minutes each.

On one occasion during a wet evening in Boston, whilst endeavouring to watch said Hugh Laurie in his medical Sherlock Holmes interpretation I counted 10 breaks. And to ad insult to injury the commercials themselves were even worse than the bilge we get over here……mainly aimed at 4 x 4 drivers and the best place to get barbequed ribs.

Having had this experience of the television I assumed that radio would also be an unbearable experience. However; this could not have been further from the truth. In fact I would go as far as to say the quality of the programmes our car’s Bose system picked up wiped the floor with UK radio programming (there you go friends over the pond, we have the TV, you have radio).

Far from loads of ads they had none and very little chat, just pure music, Chris Evans please take note. Also as you flicked through the dial you’ll discover that they have stations dedicated to pure genres, the 40’s 50’s 60’s 70’s, 80’s, rock, blues, blue grass, swing, jazz and of course….country.

Now we managed to negotiate our way through the back end of Brooklyn towards Boston listening to the 50’s rock & roll station, and believe me there is no more suitable and exhilarating song with which to start an adventure like this than Chuck Berry singing ‘Driving along in my automobile’ and that is what we got as we negotiated our first freeway.

Now in any relationship you have to have a modicum of compromise and on long journeys the choosing of the right music to travel to always involves a huge dollop of give and take.

You see whilst I can tolerate and even enjoy my wife’s choice of driving music (she is HUGE Bon Jovi fan), she dislikes my favoured tunes immensely… 11 hours of bands like ‘The Living End’, ‘Span’ and ‘Greenday’ would probably have caused marital disharmony right at the very beginning of our tour.

So with this in mind we flicked through the DAB channels until we settled upon a station that was neither offensive nor plain dull to both our senses. And as I said, I am ashamed to admit it but we settled on ‘Prime Country’ which basically played the top country music from the 90’s.

One thing you need to bear in mind before you think I have drifted to the dark side of ‘good ol boy’ straw chewing moonshine supping hillbilly is that during the 90’s country appeared to have enjoyed some what of a renaissance and become more in line with the rock of bands like said Bon Jovi and Robert Plant than singers like John Denver and Jim Reeves.

Singers like Shania Twain (great country name) turned her back on the gentler expressions of singers like Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton and gave the whole genre a bit more rock & roll (her husband/producer Mutt Lang did produce Def Leppard and Bryan Adams after all) and gave the thing a lot more ‘bottle’

You can still find the traditional stuff all over the airwaves, but for British cynics like myself who had cut there teeth on music that was the antithesis of C & W ‘Prime Country’ did help paint a positive pallet for the weary driver as he drove along the never ending Interstate.

However; lest I lulled myself into too much of a country luvin stupor as we were winding our way through the beautiful countryside that is Vermont in the fall following three gorgeous Harley Davidson motorcycles, a song arrived that reminded me not to get too complacent. “My girlfriend thinks my tractor’s sexy and it really turns her on”.

In the UK during the 70’s we had a bunch of local lads (to those of us from the West Country) called the Wurzels who sang a cider fuelled rendition of a song called “I’ve got a brand new combine harvester I’ll give you the key” . However; it was universally accepted that this song was a parody and a bit of a laugh. The guy whose girlfriend thought his tractor was a bit of an aphrodisiac sounded like he was being serious.

As the trees got thicker I thought I could hear the gentle plucking of banjos and smell the sweet sickly aroma of moonshine……..we quickened our pace.

More from our journey on the far side of the pond to follow.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Fly me to the moon!

Hi all,

I'm back from my trip to the mighty US of A, which thankfully gave me fuel for things to write you about. It was a trip rich with experience and music....sort of!

If you could bear with me as I have four CD reviews I need to write and I am also at the tail end of a Jet Lag like I have never experience before and as such I am struggling to find my own feet of a day time.

Just to keep you enticed.......I discovered the lyric "My girlfriend thinks my tractor is sexy and it really turns her on" on the prime Country channel.......not even the Wurzels could have come up with that particular line.

I will start writing shortly I promise.