Meyer & McGuire
Song of the Month #12 - “Ridin’ Down the Back Roads”
(Track #4 on the Caught in the Middle CD)
Lyrics: If your web browser does not support the Flash Player* included with the Lyrics, or you are uncomfortable allowing/downloading the plug-in/add-on, you can still listen to this song while you read. Just go to our Downloads Page and click on the link, “Buy Caught in the Middle Songs from Napster”. Then, click on "Ridin’ Down the Back Roads." You can listen to it for free (not available outside the USA).
*Not being a techie, I use the term “Flash Player” loosely.
“Reflective thinking” is one of my favorite pastimes. For me, there is nothing like taking a little time out to assess where I’ve been, where I am, and where I am going. While most of my musing is done while I am engaged in a mindless activity such as doing the dishes, walking, or riding in the car, some of my greatest cogitations occur when I am sipping a cup of coffee on our front porch or back deck.
I don’t know what “reflective thinking” does for you, but here is what it does for me. It gives me the “juice” to keep going, and here is how it works. When I reflect on my past, I assess my successes and failures. Since I can always identify some victories and defeats, I have come to the obvious conclusion this win/loss issue is constant. Embracing the simple fact that winning and losing are an ongoing process is important for me because it gives me the ability to either appreciate or cope with my current life, and it gives me the desire to continue to visualize new dreams. It also prevents me from getting too absorbed in any one accomplishment, or too destroyed by any misfortune, a balance that keeps me moving forward.
OK, OK, what is the connection between “reflective thinking” and “Ridin’ Down the Back Roads?” Well, the song got its start while I was musing in our van on the way to a gig. It was the mid 90s, and Siobhan and I were on I-79 between Ithaca and Whitney Point in New York. We were headed to Oxford, New York, to do a show at the well-known Night Eagle Café. Our music business dictates that we spend a lot of time on the road, and when we are in the car, we either listen to music or an audio book, or we gossip like a couple of officious old ladies. Just outside of Ithaca, our chitchat gave way to a needed silence because I-79 is not a very familiar road to Siobhan, and she had to look for a somewhat obscure turn that would take us towards Oxford.
As we drove along with only the sound of a CD invading the silence, I began to reflect on some of the major issues that often absorbed my thinking at that time. In the ‘90s, I taught high school English, and so consequently I spent a lot of time sorting out the problems that often result from being in education. Working with kids is rewarding and fun, but those of us who do it know it is not easy. For me, it was important to reflect on my little victories so I could maintain the stamina to keep going. Along with teaching, I thought about our music business. It, too, was very satisfying, but like education, it also had its highs and lows. Finally, my pondering brought me to my relationship with Siobhan. At the time, we had been together for fifteen years, and it seemed like we just met yesterday at George Cullen’s. Although our relationship is far more gratifying than anything else I have ever experienced, it also does not escape the cyclical nature of the ups and downs of living. Fortunately, we have been able to figure out how to help each other grow as we move through the circle of life.
In the midst of all these thoughts, the first verse of the song came out of nowhere. Its imagery merely reflects the details of riding along a country road in a car with my best friend. I sang it over and over in my head, but I did not know where to go with it. It stayed with me all the time we were in Oxford, and it wasn’t until we returned to Canandaigua that the rest of the song took shape.
I always wake up a few hours before Siobhan does; so this gives me some good quality time for writing. When I started playing with the first verse again, it brought me back to what I was thinking about when the lyrics first invaded my mind, teaching, music, and my life with Siobhan. These became the topics for the subsequent verses, and the words came out of me as if a dam had burst.
When I finished the verses, I looked at the common thread that connected them to each other. They all contained a reflection on the past, an appreciation of the present, and a wondering about the future. Since my “reflective thinking” approach came through for me in the development of the verses, I decided the chorus should reinforce this strategy, and thus “Ridin’ Down the Back Roads” came to fruition.
Ridin’ Down the Back Roads” is a sensitive folk song that invites you to daydream along with its melody and lyrics. Its pace easily mirrors the meandering of a car slowly winding along some back country road during the twilight of day or early evening. The lively sound of Tim Chaapel’s guitar picking blended with the lonely resonance of Joe Dady’s violin deftly enhances the cyclical theme portrayed in the song. These two guys, along with John Dady, help Siobhan and me in creating one of those songs that was made for contemplation. It is something Jim Croce may possibly have written if he were still alive. Although it doesn’t even come close to being anything like Croce’s “Hey Tomorrow” or “The Hard Way Every Time,” I like it, and I hope you do, too.
I dedicated this song to all those people who, like us, have been fortunate enough to find love and share dreams. I do not know what causes some of us to be lucky, but I do have a sense of how loving and dreaming can keep going. Remember, when times are tough, nothing is permanent; consequently, when times are good, nothing is permanent. So, if you can truly flow with this simple little concept, I believe loving and dreaming will never die for you because you will always maintain an innate curiosity to find out what lies around the next bend.
We recorded this song in 1998 at The Garage, a little studio in Rochester, New York. The Garage, as I have told you before, is owned and operated by John and Joe Dady, two quintessential musicians. When you record with them, you can always count on great coffee, good stories, and an aching stomach from laughing. I highly recommend John and Joe if you are interested in recording. Also, The Dady Brothers, John and Joe’s group, have many recordings of their own, and they tour the United States and Ireland. Check them out on the web at www.dadybros.com.
Tim Chaapel owns Mobile Music, a great music store in Canandaigua, New York. If you think you might be interested in playing an instrument, stop in. Tim will get you off to a great start! He has guitars that make you look really sexy! Also, if your instrument has fallen on hard times, Tim will get it sounding like new in no time. Check him out on the web at http://www.mobilemusic.downtowncanandaigua.com.
Well, there you have it. I’ll have another song of the month for you next month. If you have any comments or suggestions, please pass them on to me. This is a work in progress, and I am always looking for new ways to improve it.
E-mail us at McRiley@Frontiernet.net