The Allman Brothers Band – Southbound

Brothers and Sisters
Year :
Warren Zevon / The Guess Who / Little Feat

The open road is wrapped up in the traditional American character–the possibilities of expanse. What can be achieved, and/or what can be run away from. Even in the 21st century, we’ve got a lot of space. I think we’ve got approximately the same size landmass as Europe, with less than half the population. For all the appeals of urban living, I like that cities can give way to almost nothing within a few miles of the metro area. There is a liberation in getting out of the city and flooring it on the highway, or winding through rural roads.  Liberation can be its own reward, but I also really think it should have a soundtrack.

I was in Krakow, Poland for work in April of this year. I had an unexpected extension of my stay and had an extra weekend. Having already spent enough time in the city, I had a certain itch to get behind the wheel on a Saturday and drive to nearby Slovakia, just a couple of hours south. I rented a car and, against all better judgment, drove by myself from one very foreign country to another.  Krakow is pretty fascinating because it almost immediately gives way to rural Polish farmland. I cut through the roads past the nonexistent border controls and drove through the High Tatras, rounding back into Poland and heading back into Krakow via Zakopane. On the way back, the city manifested itself from nothing but the same rural roads. There were no gradients of urbanity.

It was an incredible ride and something of an adventure, but whenever I got behind the wheel I could not help but think of the potential consequences of any of the circumstantial hammers that could have dropped. I mean, what if my car started having problems? Or if I got into an accident? I didn’t know anyone in Slovakia, or anyone outside of the Krakow metro area for that matter. I had to be at work on Monday. Why did I go it alone? Maybe I’m not cut out for the open road–a pleasant mountain drive put me on tilt. Throughout the course of the trip, I heard one song on the radio multiple times (well before it ever caught on in the States) to the point where its repetition came to define the ride. It was no road anthem; it was “Blurred Lines”. Every time I hear that song, I’m reminded of anxiously driving through Polish countryside. Not the worst association in the world, but kind of an odd one for a song that’s ostensibly about drunk sex.

For an anxiety-free, good old American road song, I’ll take “Southbound” by good old American outfit The Allman Brothers Band. I’ll turn it on when I’m driving up and down 95 through my intra-New England travels. It’s a great song for turning up the volume, rolling down the windows, feeling the wind, and enjoying the ride. I know the destination, I know the roads, I know the language. I can’t get lost. It’s freedom on rails–the new American character.

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Jeff Bennet (@JeffBennet) goes with Drake any time someone asks him who his favorite band or artist is, because he has this personality flaw where he needs to be all things to all people.

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