Songs You May Have Missed #335

thresholdThreshold: “The Hours” (2012)

There are all kinds of rock road songs.

The Rolling Stones helped us see the unsavory side of it all with “Torn and Frayed”:

“Well, the ballrooms and smelly bordellos,
And dressing rooms filled with parasites.
On stage the band has got problems
They’re a bag of nerves on first nights.

Motorhead’s “(We Are) the Road Crew” gave us something pretty straightforward:

“Another town another place,
Another girl, another face,
Another truck, another race.
I’m eating junk, feeling bad,
Another night, I’m going mad.”

Grand Funk Railroad reminded us it’s all a party with “We’re an American Band”:

“On the road for forty days,
Last night in Little Rock put me in a haze.
… We’re coming to your town, we’ll help you party down.
We’re an American band.”

Journey’s “Faithfully”, perhaps rock’s definitive road ballad, is a mixture of self-pity and determination to man up and see the good side:

They say that the road ain’t no place to start a family…

two strangers learn to fall in love again/I get the joy of rediscovering you

The Ramones’ “Touring” capably demonstrated that a road song can be just as mindless as…any other Ramones song:

“Well we’ve been around this great big world,
And we’ve met all kinds of guys and girls,
From Kamoto Islands to Rockaway Beach.
No, it’s not hard, not far to reach.”

Jackson Browne’s “The Load Out” is typical Jackson Browne–mopey and self-absorbed:

“We do so many shows in a row,
And these towns all look the same.
We just pass the time in our hotel rooms,
And wander ’round backstage.”

And then there’s Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page”, which almost deserves its own category:

“So you walk into this restaurant,
Strung out from the road,
And you feel the eyes upon you,
As you’re shaking off the cold.
You pretend it doesn’t bother you
But you just want to explode.”

Most times you can’t hear ’em talk
Other times you can
All the same old clichés
“Is that a woman or a man?”

Of all these songs, as well as the many I didn’t quote–like “Lodi”, “Two-Lane Highway”, “Six Days on the Road”, “Travelin’ Band”, “Postcard” and Fountains of Wayne’s road-song skewering “A Road Song”, none are half as loathsome to me as the dirge of self-pity that is “Turn the Page”.

For a full five minutes we are seriously expected to mourn the plight of a rock star and his life of unadulterated fan adoration and adulterated one-night stands. And that sax riff is supposed to make me weep for the guy who takes a little ribbing because he’s been too busy counting gate receipts to stop in at the barber. Waaaaahh!

Tough life, Bob.

Anyway, prog metallers Threshold have put their own spin on the road song. These guys make taking to the road sound like a gladiator striding into the arena, girded with the steel of love and devotion, willing to “stand until my strength is gone” and “fight against the hours” he must endure until he can return home to the object of his devotion. This is hero fantasy quest stuff!

A little dramatic? Well, yeah that’s the point. I mentioned they were prog metal, right? No half-assing this stuff. Life on the road, to a prog metal band, isn’t about moping in the corner of a hayseed bar trying not to cry because some ignorant redneck called your gender into question. (Ironically, he’ll recognize you later ’cause he has tickets to see Ted Nugent, who’s your opening act. So you see you’ll get the last laugh when you take that guy’s money too.)

Life on the road, in prog metal terms, is about fighting the big bad balrog of loneliness, temptation, and confusion as to which unfamiliar corridor leads to the stage. It’s about taking up the sword of overconfidence, and the talismanic gold chain hung ’round your neck with the extra hotel key tucked inside your tunic, and marching forward to greet the screaming hordes with a bellowing “Hello Cleveland!”

“I mean Akron!”

See also:

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Anonymous
    Feb 18, 2013 @ 17:28:24

    “…the big bad balrog of loneliness, temptation, and confusion”? I approve.




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