Saturday, 2 August 2014

Highway Tonight

I wrote that song travelling through the Midwest. After I got clean for the second time, I just lit out on my own for a while. Rescued the Dormobile from a friend's parking lot, fixed her up, and set out from L.A., up through Las Vegas without stopping, then across east, not really knowing where I'd fetch up.

I needed some peace, some space to work out what to do next. I needed away from the big cities, where I could get my hands on junk too easily. And the Midwest has lots of space. Mile after mile, hundreds of miles sometimes, between towns of any size; just cornfields to feed the world, so they say. I still had a bit of money from the first two albums, so I thought hey, why not? I could probably pick up some gigs on the way.

What I did pick up, mid way through Utah, was a bad case of Josie. Scrap of a girl, standing at the roadside, guitar case in hand. That clinched it. 

"Where are you going?"

"Wherever the wind blows me. Away from here, at least." Long, dark hair; ten years younger than me. Running away from home, she said.

"Your folks know you've gone?"

"Like they care." She had a certain attitude. I insisted she phone home at the next truck stop: I gave her the change, and, well, she phoned someone

We had a good couple of nights under the stars, Josie and me. Smell of the gas stove guttering in the breeze, a simple meal cleared away, blue smoke of a joint back and forth, just two girls with guitars. She knew my first record, and strummed along. Then she'd do one of her own, although some of them sounded strangely familiar. World-weary, she was. There was one song - but no, that would give it away.

Soon as we reached a bigger town with a Greyhound bus station, Josie disappeared, along with my stash and a roll of bills I kept under my mattress. It could have been my only money.

The next time I saw her face, it was on the cover of a double album. She was the Next Big Thing, for a while. New Wave, that was what she rode in on.

The car mechanic and the waitress, they came later on, in Kansas. A long way from the Yellow Brick Road.