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“Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike They’ve all come to look for America”

Somewhere in my corroded Palaces of Memory, I see myself as a young man, sometime in late 1968 (Thanksgiving? Christmas?) riding the Greyhound home up the spine of old Highway 99, Sacramento to Chico. Just outside of Oroville looking out over the brindle hills I saw a pale horse shy away from the highway as beyond “the moon rose over an open field.” I was listening to my old silver transistor radio as I leaned against the cool bus window of the autumn night. It was playing this song. I thought at the time that it would be a good life’s work to have “gone to look for America.” And so I did and so I am still.

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’s pies
And we walked off to look for America
Cathy, 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

Cathy, I’m lost, I said though I knew she was sleeping
And 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


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Skorpion November 3, 2020, 9:40 AM

    Their best song. Anthemic, with evocative lyrics and soaring harmonies.

  • James ONeil November 3, 2020, 9:41 AM

    -27°F. right now, right here, as I head to the polls looking for keeping America.

  • nunnya bidnez, jr November 3, 2020, 10:28 AM

    The band Yes did their own version;

  • Kevin in PA November 3, 2020, 11:27 AM

    Yes, great tune for the day, G.

    I do prefer S&G version of their song. The YES – Jon Anderson, Brit- soprano is not fitting for an American song.

  • Anonymous November 3, 2020, 11:57 AM

    The opening scene is filmed at Mesa View Arch in Island in the Sky district of Canyon Lands NP just outside of Moab, Ut. Not too far from our home. This is one of our favorite places to visit in spring, fall and winter.

  • Behind Enemy Lines November 3, 2020, 1:49 PM

    Listened to this last week for the first time in a long time. It’s still a smack in the head.

    Us guys, we’ve all come to look for America.

  • twolaneflash November 3, 2020, 2:27 PM

    I, too, have memories of being on a Greyhound bus in 1968, riding home from college in Atlanta to north Georgia. Before leaving Atlanta, I ate a couple of chili dogs with onions at the nearby famous Varsity drive-in. As the bus bounced up Hwy 41, the meal became a gaseous bolus seeking release, which I attempted, but failed, to let out quietly. Following the explosion, I quickly looked around to see if anyone had heard the roaring noise. Across the aisle from me, my eyes locked with those of a large black woman who said, loudly: “Don’t you look at ME white boy! I saw you tilt!”.

  • CHRISTIAN LEBLANC November 3, 2020, 6:03 PM

    This came out when I was about 9 or 10 years old, as did The Sterile Cuckoo. I have always conflated the two.

  • Nori November 3, 2020, 6:28 PM

    Had a comment about Mexican Hat UT,my big shaggy dog,a huge full moon,& the photo-op of a lifetime,but 2lane’s chili dogs just blew it away. Too funny,eyes tearing up,good grief…

  • Anne November 3, 2020, 8:46 PM

    For “Two land flash”.
    We laughed and we loved it. Yours was the first comment to bring us together for a good laugh!
    Thank you,

  • Boat Guy November 4, 2020, 7:28 AM

    America can still be found if one seeks it.

  • CharleyC November 4, 2020, 2:52 PM

    I don’t mind admitting that on this day from hell, the song made me cry for all that I have seen and loved and cherished and enjoyed. I fear for the young of this land for they may never know the joy of wanderlust, the freedom of simply being without master, without care.
    I read about comments from the left today calling their vile minions to war. If war it be, then bring it on. I am old and tired but hardened from the years. They will not find me an easy mark, a willing servant or a compliant surrender. Would that I die today on my feet before serving one day on my knees before any other than God himself.

  • AesopFan November 4, 2020, 10:42 PM

    Thanks for reminding me of one of my favorites.
    I used to tell my kids that I quit listening to popular music when Simon and Garfunkel broke up.
    There is nothing else quite like their collaboration.

  • Boat Guy November 5, 2020, 2:13 AM

    Well “spoken” Charley. We are in similar places, you and I.
    For AesopFan; there has been plenty of good music since S&G. They had some great harmonies, melodies and interesting lyrics that spoke well to my early adolescence. There were many others in the ensuing years.

  • Assistant Village Idiot November 5, 2020, 6:48 PM

    When Bernie used this for a campaign video in 2016 I was moved, even knowing that the America his people were looking for wasn’t the same as mine. I loved S & G when young, and Simon was a very talented lyricist. Intellectually, he turned out to be a fraud, but they gave me some good songs on my way up.

  • Cappy November 7, 2020, 5:52 PM

    Have you looked behind the fridge?