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"Follow that Road" - Anne Hills

[It's nice to have a few posts saved up for days when you're tired - I wrote this a few weeks ago.]

I started listening to folk music in college.  Besides the singing and the harmonies (and I'm very picky about the singing and playing), I love the fact that folk music can be about any kind of subject.  Pop love songs are okay, but get tiresome after awhile. 

"Follow that Road," by Anne Hills has one of the most unusual subjects - no, not some agonizing life experience or bizarre historical figure.  Once, at a songwriters discussion, someone said that no subject was too small so she decided to write a song that was just directions to a house in the country.

If you're coming in the summer, you'd be better to split off on Thirty-Five
There's the Starlight Drive-In Movie, on your left, just beyond the county line
Right after that, you'll see two silos. One is silver; one is blue.
'Bout a quarter mile further, make a left onto Highway Forty-Two.

Then follow that road, cornfields just as far as you can see.
Follow that road back through time, back through distance, back to me.

If you're drivin' by in autumn, you should follow up the river to Bear Lake.
That's the time to see the colors. There's an old covered bridge you'll want to take.
Late at night, be careful. Just be sure to look for deer out on the road.
And if it's early in the morning, sometimes it gets foggy. Take it slow.

But follow that road, sugar maples far as you can see.
Follow that road back through time, back through distance, back to me...
(full lyrics here, courtesy of Joshwriting)

It's a beautiful, slow-moving song that gradually unfolds with just Anne Hills clear voice, constant guitar, and Marcy Marxer singing harmony (I know it's long, but it's worth it).

Followthatroad_1 This recording is from Follow that Road, a CD of live performances from the second annual Martha's Vineyard singer/songwriter retreat, and, obviously, it was chosen as the title for the CD also.  If you're interested in getting to know more about folk singer/songwriters,  or just want an excellent CD of performances, this would be a good one to get.  Along with Anne Hills, and Christine Lavin (who organized the retreat), it includes performances by Pierce Pettis, Barbara Kessler, Tom Paxton, Kristina Olsen, Susan Werner, Al Petteway... oh, I'm not going to list the singers of all 30 songs!

[This was going to be the first of a series of posts about songs from a particular folk tape.  My theory was, that if I wrote about a song every day, by the time I finished, the daffodils would be blooming.  It would get me through the rest of the winter.  But, I never got back to it, and the daffodils have started blooming.  Dear husband and I ate sandwiches outside this afternoon before I drove daughter and her friend to dance.  The sunset colors on the clouds were beautiful.  My wintry mood is starting to evaporate!]

[Now that I'm thinking about it, someday, I should blog about the Starlite Drive In in Durham, NC.  We used to live down the street from it. (For those who know Durham - No, not the landfill side of I-85, the other side).]



I didn't play the clip; I found I didn't have to. Anne's unadorned voice, so perfectly clear and so innocently real played clearly in my mind. I got a catch in my throat every time she leapt up in the refrain. "Corn fields just as far as you can see." Like a meadowlark's sweet notes, rising sskyward.

And I can't think of another song that captures the simple clear longing of older relatives for their distant children, and the lovely sweet care of their advice, repeating what the grown up son or daughter already knows, but the parent fears they have forgotten. "Back through time, back through distance, back to me." You picked a good one to showcase "folk music" - few sit closer to the heart of the form. That's your special gift - to know precisely where the middle is. It's why I, whirling around the edges of everything, revolve around you.

Russs Mead

I heard this song on the radio a decade ago and it stuck with me ever since. On several occasions, I tried to remember enough of the lyrics to find the song. However, no luck. Then tonight it came on the radio. I stopped and wrote down everything that might be the title then found this posting. In my view, this is one of the most memorable songs ever written.

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