Friday, September 22, 2017

Saint Christopher

After graduation, Christopher and I left Chicago in the van from our recently defunct band and set out on the ghost road to California -- two weeks chasing the illusory American dream of diners and neon and getting kicks on Route 66. I saw deserts and The Pacific for the first time. We saw each other clearly for the first time in a long time of band business and concerts getting in the way of actually spending time. We sang for our supper in Santa Fe. We got hopelessly lost in Arizona and ended up driving down a dry wash. Followed a faded section of 66 in Missouri until it narrowed into a forest and branches slapped at the windshield. We watched a high school ballgame in North Platte, Nebraska.

We moved to separate cities afterward, started careers and families. And we saw each other and spoke on the phone. But we also spoke to each other in music, a joint venture of songwriting. We never talked about it or planned anything but we both started writing, influencing each other back and forth as we went. They were songs about a lonely wanderer, torn between the possibility of a home and his restless heart that calls him on to roam under the endless American sky. The only certainty he has is finding his home in heaven.

We both wrote a dozen or so songs in the vein -- Chris' Hard Day to Be a Cowboy and Goodbye to the Highway, my Texarkana and Never Been in Love. This song below, Saint Christopher is my tribute to my friend, to our friendship. Saint Christopher is the conveniently named patron saint of travelers. The song is our classic motif -- wanderer going forth to shed the past and finding the road weary but also finding hope and endurance. I wrote it for female vocals and this is Melody Dotson on lead. I recorded it seven years ago before leaving Grand Rapids for Detroit. I don't pray to saints myself but I do find hope and strength in heaven and sustaining joy in friendship. I count myself a man lucky in his friends.

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