A prisoner of the white lines on the freeway

We just heard a 1994 NPR World Cafe replay interview with Joni Mitchell in which the album Hijera was discussed, and a part of the song “Coyote” was played.  Back as a teen, I remember wearng thick black and white headphones plugged into a damaged receiver amp from Goodwill and a BSR turntalbe playing the album, and ths song.  I enjoyed the bass.

The song wasn’t a bad capture of the general feel of growing up on country roads in Willamette Valley in the lat 1970s– especially on warm summer evenings with late sunsets and bonfires on gravel roads and teenagers learning to talk and interact without adults around.  That was fun, but beneath and behind it was the drving– American Graffiti-style car culture infused life , with the quarter mile spray painted on a perfectly straight country road and a rush of  pavement and a the yellow center stripes blurring into one.

Maybe that was the conflict of it– a good life, a good atmosphere on those warm summer nights, but a cranky sense that there must be something more– something better down the road.  The bonfire was beautiful, but it said something was over.  Time to leave.  The moment was sparks fading into stars.  The white lines on the freeway were real.

So we end up far away.  Today we explored some high reaches of the Portsmouth harbor estuary by boat, returning after dark with faulty nav lights on the bow, and had dinner in a gently rocking cabin with wind whistling in the rigging.  1994 Joni Mitchell streamed on the iPhone via NPR, talking about a song from 1976, and I felt both home in Oregon and million years away, in a more interesting and more complicated place.

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