Songs and Short Stories From the Road: Part 3

  The last time I wrote one of these I was in Thailand and a lot has happened since then, namely jumping across the globe to Europe (and briefly, Africa).

Since Asia, I have attended three music festivals, walked across the northern peninsula of Spain on the road to Santiago, raved in Berlin, seen the Wall, eaten a fair share of Francesinhas in Portugal, sweated through my clothes twice daily in Seville, trekked through the Sahara desert and had a pint or 50 of Guinness.

I haven’t updated my blog a whole lot, so this is my way of bringing it up to speed. Even just slightly. More periodic blog posts coming from here on out!

BROILERS – HARTER WEG (GO!): Rock am Ring Festival

Select lyric: Das wird ein harter weg! (It’s going to be a hard road)

A hard road indeed is a good metaphor for long-term travel. I saw German ska legends Broilers on the Nurburgring race track in June and was blown away. I went to the festival alone and befriended a clan of German army blokes who had constructed a small village in the campsite, complete with a 10-man canvas hut, mesh shade outside, barbecue, beer pong table, white picket fence and a garden they had physically dug out and planted. Festival veterans, no doubt, and being the only Aussie in the campsite made for a few unforgettable nights that were unironically hard to remember. But one thing I do remember is the bands I saw between campsite sessions and Broilers were nuts. Check them out!

JAMES TAYLOR – COUNTRY ROAD: Camino de Santiago

Select lyric: Take to the highway, won’t you lend me your name? Your way and my way seem to be one and the same.

Lifted straight from the Camino film The Way (2010), the song is the perfect walking tune for strolling through the Spanish countryside with some strangers that have become your best friends for the day. Uplifting, upbeat and organic, the James Taylor classic sets a good mood and pace for walking especially on days where in excess of 30km lie before you under the blistering sun. The film The Way has a cult-following along the Camino. Certainly not the first film about the Camino, it is definitely the biggest and has had a big role in inviting many foreigners, particularly U.S. Americans (a country with rather low rates of passport ownership), to come to Europe to walk the road.

THE CLASH – ROCK THE CASBAH: Morocco

Select lyric: The shareef don’t like it, rock the casbah, rock the casbah!

Punk titans The Clash wrote the song based on the story of an Arab king banning rock music. Not a whole lot of significance regarding this song choice. Just everything in Morocco is called a Casbah and it’s customary to make mention of the correlation to the name of a popular English-language track by singing it outside of every casbah in the entire country. Rock the casbah!

MUSE & BRIAN JOHNSON – BACK IN BLACK: Reading Festival

Select lyric: ‘Cause I’m back on the track, and I’m beatin’ the flack, nobody’s gonna get me on another rap

Seeing Muse was a long time coming for me and when the band brought out AC/DC’s longest-standing frontman Brian Johnson out on stage, there was an electric charge in the crowd that cannot be described. The appearance perhaps came as a dig to Johnson’s former bandmates. Though he was diagnosed with severe (and potentially worsening) hearing loss, he was ‘axed’ from the band and replaced with Axl Rose—if you believe Brian’s side. And being Back In Black on stage, Brian Johnson proved he was still able to perform and he was bloody good at it, topping off an already perfect gig from British rock-juggernauts Muse.

THE BEATLES – PENNY LANE: Beatlemania in Liverpool

Select lyric: Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes

Inspired by the charming street of the same name in the Beatles’ native Liverpool, the song was part of a shift in lyrical direction for the innovative four-piece where, after reaching never-matched international acclaim began to write about more homely content such as Penny Lane, Eleanor Rigby (a name on a grave where John met Paul) and Strawberry Fields Forever (after the field where Lennon played as a child) among many others.

Visiting Liverpool as a Beatles fan is like walking down the sweets aisle as a kid. The whole city is a monument to the Beatles. Store fronts, street names and famous monuments carry commemorative decoration, describing their significance to the lives and times in the career of the greatest band of all time. Last night, I was lucky enough to see this particular track performed beside others in the famous Cavern Club.

Travel to boogie.

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