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Boomer Bus Songs: America

Once upon a time, long ago, I was traveling up the spine of California’s great central valley in a Greyhound. I’d dozed off to the lull of the tires but then jerked awake as the bus swerved for some reason. It was the night of a harvest moon in a forgotten September, and as I looked out the window I saw the moon rise over an open field. Later that night, in a cheap motel, I fell asleep listening to my transistor radio. As I listened Wolfman Jack played this new release from Simon and Garfunkel. A strange conjunction but in those days the most absurd accident could happen and it would only be part of the tapestry.

“Let us be lovers, we’ll marry our fortunes together”
“I’ve got some real estate here in my bag”
So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner pies
And walked off to look for America

“Kathy,” I said as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh
“Michigan seems like a dream to me now”
It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw
I’ve gone to look for America

Laughing on the bus
Playing games with the faces
She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy
I said “Be careful his bowtie is really a camera”

“Toss me a cigarette, I think there’s one in my raincoat”
“We smoked the last one an hour ago”
So I looked at the scenery, she read her magazine
And the moon rose over an open field

“Kathy, I’m lost,” I said, though I knew she was sleeping
I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They’ve all come to look for America
All come to look for America
All come to look for America

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Tom Hyland October 8, 2021, 5:26 PM

    That black & white photo… “Moonrise Hernandez, New Mexico” was snapped by Ansel Adams around 1947. He’d just spent the day hanging out with Georgia O’Keeffe about 10 miles north at her place in Abiquiu. Hernandez is northwest of Espanola a few miles. It’s mostly single and double-wides hugging the highway. The church and the graveyard are still there, but you got to look real close because a highway department supply building and a big ass double wide are mostly obscuring the view. The guy living in the trailer got fed up long ago with people stopping to snap their own masterpiece, fat chance, and he will step out on his porch and curse at you if you linger. Next time I’ll sing “We’ve all gone to look for America” and that ought to be entertaining.

  • nunnya bidnez, jr October 8, 2021, 5:37 PM

    I’ve always liked the version by Yes better…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CACWj18ruk

    play it fucking loud.

  • Dirk October 8, 2021, 5:51 PM

    The meadow stream OMG, southern Oregon, is chalked full of that pic. I’ve hunted monster Trout, elusive buggers, low crawling from 50/60 ft away,.these trout aren’t lurkers without being a smart cunning.

    We crawl, because walking out creates vibration, which translates to the lurkers that their foe is about.

    Nothing quiet like the perfect stalk, the perfect fly presentation, laying the fly ever so gently in the ripple, with enough slack to naturally slid into the hide hole. As the fly wash’s into the side flow, Big trout well swimming under the cut bank patiently inspecting the food for actual food.

    I can hear then asking themselves is that a natural hatch fly, did it arrive in the natural flow, did the fly hang in the backwater naturally, or being managed on a line.

    Then they watch, look and feel for vibrations from above. Often a lunker will exit the bank, for a look down water, to see if a fisherman’s sky lined, if his or her fly pole is casting water shadows.

    When everything’s as it should be, the lurker then considered exactly how hungry they are. Most fisherman do not have the skills more importantly the patience to outwit the lurkers. The lunkers are eating most everything right now, winters in the air.

    Again these ol boys didn’t get to be lunkers by being stupid.

    Fine fly fishing is similar to but different from a very long range shot hitting the target. EVERYTHING on the water, in the water MUST be perfect, as is the long range shot, measuring twice, wind gauging, dialing in ones dope, checking it twice, dialing your dope, mounting your rifle, shoulder placement, cheek placement, dialing, reading what your scope tells you, watching grass or brush at 100y then mid flight, then at the targets a must.

    Then proper breathing , then the trigger press. It’s an art, like catching the lurkers.

    We are blessed often we manage to achieve both successfully in a single day around here.

    We were at 7000 plus ft out of LakeviewOregon in the Warner Mountains, rain then snow, then more rain, in a Jeep, in 4 low, into and out of canyons and gullies full of vivid yellow and bright red magnificent reds truly only something Our God could make.

    The fire roads are brutal, bumpy,,,, it’s still really summer and fire dangers a concern. But the heavy rain and light snow, reduced the potentially fire to dam near zero. We were laying in a Cross Country Vintage motorcycle8/9 mile loop for next spring.

    I didn’t have my fly rod, i did have my Wilson AR-10 in 6.5 Creedmore, topped with a Schmidt and Bender PMII in mrad a can, 100 rounds of 140g red tipped sniper rounds fifty 147 g sniper rounds another 300 regular 6.5 in 25 rounds mags. And the 19 Glock go everywhere pistol.

    No shooting, just awesome magnificent countryside way up high in the Warner Mountains.

    I’ll be back mid week next week, got a date with my bamboo fly rod and several streams.

    Anything caught is lovingly nursed back to fitness, and released with a kind word for my opponent, and a prayer to the man above for putting me in those mountains.

    Life really is good. Even when it’s bad.

    VI

    • ghostsniper October 9, 2021, 4:41 AM

      Nice, Dirk.

    • Jack October 9, 2021, 8:51 AM

      Dirk, I can only imagine. I want to go to there.

    • EX-Californian Pete October 9, 2021, 4:24 PM

      Awesome wordage, Dirk.
      I could actually picture in my mind the scenes of what you wrote, and the sentiment behind it, like I was there in person.

      The only 2 things I’d add-
      First, proper breathing, and trigger pull- right between heartbeats.
      The other- There are no bad days- if you’re alive to have a “bad day,” that actually makes it a GOOD day.

      If one of your vintage motorcycles ever makes it’s way to east central Ohio with you on it, I’d be more than glad to show you some of the best and most scenic back roads ever ridden on 2 wheels.

  • Skorpion October 8, 2021, 5:53 PM

    An anthemic classic. Always wondered how a pretentious, pseudo-poetic, PG-rated Allen Ginsberg-ripoff like “Sounds of Silence” could become their signature song, when this tune,” “The Boxer,” “Dangling Conversation,” and several other tracks far, far better ones were in their repertoire.

  • Missy October 8, 2021, 7:16 PM

    I have been looking for America of late, and I found it this afternoon in Topeka. No kidding.

  • LP October 8, 2021, 7:27 PM

    I love that song, confused it for a moment with City of New Orleans by Arlington Guthrie. I was at a concert where Arlo was singing that song and I started a “wave” in the audience. All of a sudden everyone was on board! We have to share and preserve all of these folk songs for our children and grandchildren

  • don kroner October 8, 2021, 7:56 PM

    summer 1972-army basic training-marching out to a night fire range at Fort Knox -missing home, worried about post basic assignment(?vietnam?)-here comes the biggest moon “rising over an open field”-it was a moment and emotion still with me to this day-I think they call it a neural loop

    • ghostsniper October 9, 2021, 4:44 AM

      I was there exactly, 2 years later, June-August 1974.
      Crazy time.

  • William Hay October 8, 2021, 8:10 PM

    One of my favorite Ansel Adams photos, Moonrise over Hernandez. I have a framed copy in our bedroom. I was fortunate to be able to visit the Ansel Adams gallery in Yosemite years ago, it was a highlight of my time in CA.

    • Vanderleun October 10, 2021, 8:24 AM

      High marks for identifying the photo.

      • William Hay October 10, 2021, 11:51 AM

        I have been an Ansel Adams fan since the early 70’s when I took a photography class in high school. I have had the privilege of seeing several exhibits of his original prints over the years. Because of him I have come to appreciate the true beauty of black and white photography.

        • Vanderleun October 10, 2021, 3:37 PM

          That makes me recall a Web Exclusive posting I did in 2006 about Adams’ work in LA during the war. A far cry from Half Dome.

          Ansel Adams’ Lost Los Angeles @ AMERICAN DIGEST

          Ansel Adams’ Lost Los Angeles
          [Happy Birthday this week to Ansel Adams, 1902- 1984.]

          Unknown photographs from when Adams was, if only for a few days, an urban photographer.

          I don’t recall what I was searching for when I came across the Ansel Adams photographs of Los Angeles at the beginning of World War II, but I don’t think it was a handsome rendering of Half Dome or a Moonrise in New Mexico. It was something much more gritty. On reflection, it might have been photographs of my original elementary school, Benjamin Franklin in Glendale. In any case I was running a search in the Los Angeles Public Library’s immense online collection of photographs when something in a record caught my eye, the name “Ansel Adams.” The image attached to this record was of a parking lot with a cars jumbled together around a prominent No Parking sign….

  • steve walsh October 9, 2021, 4:51 AM

    Always loved this song. Paul Simon who created it is part of the generation of Americans that is intent on destroying the America that he looks and longs for. I recently spent some time in Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and South Dakota – I didn’t do a lengthy or extensive analysis, but the America I love appears to be alive and well there.

  • Anonymous October 10, 2021, 7:10 AM

    One thing I never liked about this song. They go from Saginaw, to Pittsburgh to the Jersey Turnpike. Most sane people head west to “look for America” not the complete opposite.

  • Dirk October 10, 2021, 4:40 PM

    Friends I don’t bite, I knowing seems I do, apologies. The point, you wish to come to southern Oregon when the lunkers are hitting, your welcome here. Being empty nesters we have a couple extra bedrooms, the lovely Mrs Williams is a fine cook,seemingly wonderful host.

    The streams are cooling down, the bigs should be out.

    Early season the Klamath Lake is some dam fine fishing. Got a decent boat know where to be, and when to be their, your part would be hooking em.

    Sincerely your welcome here, ill do’ my best to not go hunter killer nonsense.

    Dirk and Carole.

  • chuck October 12, 2021, 7:30 PM

    the saddest thing about this song…..paul simon grew up in America, grew rich and famous and successful in America, continues to live VERY WELL in America…..

    still hasn’t found America…….

  • chuck October 12, 2021, 7:33 PM

    on the other hand, he IS still ‘the only living boy in new york”……

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