I have my usual Saturday routine of biking out to the Port Colborne YMCA and Aquatic Center, swimming 6000m or so, then cycling home again. Before that however, it’s the regular breakfast and coffee cuddles with Tina the Cat, a hefty poop and then this Day 40 of the 100 Day Challenge (click HERE) set to a little heady vinyl, specifically ‘Running Down the Road‘ by Arlo Guthrie.
This is the 1969 album by the iconic American folk singer. Guthrie’s version of the traditional folk tune ‘Stealin’‘ which spotlighted the album was also featured in the film ‘Two-Lane Blacktop’, and the cover even shows him upon a Triumph TR6 Trophy motorcycle which is also pictured in the album’s ‘gatefold’.
Although this album’s ‘Coming in to Los Angeles‘ crossed Guthrie over and into the rock underground, especially via its performance at Woodstock, most of his third record is actually far more laid-back country-rock.
Very much a production of its time, in a slightly negative sense, ‘Running Down the Road‘ features Guthrie employing the cream of L.A.’s top country-rock players as session men including Ry Cooder, James Burton, Clarence White, Jim Gordon, Gene Parsons, Jerry Scheff, and Chris Etheridge. The tone therefore is good-natured and easygoing – too good-natured and easygoing sometimes, in fact, as on the unexciting cover of ‘Stealin’‘. Guthrie acknowledges his folk roots with covers of tunes by his father Woody Guthrie (‘Oklahoma Hills‘), Pete Seeger (‘Living in the Country‘), and Mississippi John Hurt (‘Creole Belle‘). These are surrounded by originals that follow the Dylan “back to basics” mold of the late ’60s, both in musical and lyrical concerns (‘My Front Pages‘ might even be taken as a gentle Dylan satire). As such, much of the record is inoffensive but inconsequential, although the drug smuggling ode ‘Coming into Los Angeles‘ adds a touch of much-needed urgency. The title track is entirely uncharacteristic of the album, with its harsh blasts of distorted psychedelic guitar and tough, walking-blues stance – for these reasons, it’s a standout.
So with this first workout in the bag, it’s time to suit up in my warm cycling duds, down some yogurt, back up my swim shit and hit the Friendship Trail out to Port Colborne in the -stupid° weather.
Truth be told, I’d much rather stay indoors today and cuddle with Tina the Cat in front of the boob tube and a smmich, but I’m forcing myself out the door with the notion that today’s 0° temps are the perfect conditioning for the Hell that is about to unleash itself in the Brock torture chamber next week.
Besides, these laps aren’t going to swim themselves, are they?