Last night on The Tonight Show, Jay Leno’s musical guest was James Taylor. Before Taylor played, Leno told the story about why he picked Taylor to do the honors of Leno’s last show farewell. He said that as he was moving to California to give himself a shot at big time show business, he played James Taylor’s song, “Sweet Baby James.” The line “With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go” seemed apropos. [song after the jump]
Leno’s nostalgic look at a song significant to his life as he traveled from his past to his future by traveling to a new place, reminded me of my own traveling from my past to my future song.
When a friend and I traveled across the U.S. for three months–mostly by bus, after our two-years in the Peace Corps the song “America” by Simon and Garfunkel captured our emotional state the most. I remember looking out the bus window watching the scenery roll by while listening to that song with a shared Walkman and two pairs of headphones.
Neither of us had any idea what was ahead for us, but we were looking. Three months of interacting with the physical America helped with our direction. I ended up in Albuquerque, New Mexico and she headed to Washington, D.C. Since then, we’ve both traveled elsewhere.
Of all the experiences I’ve had in life, nothing was more strong than that move back to the U.S. from The Gambia, looking for a place to land where I would feel comfortable and thrive. Simon and Garfunkel were fitting companions on that journey.
By the looks of the hug James Taylor gave Jay Leno after he sang, Taylor’s song helped Leno find his way.
Have any songs helped you find your way as you’ve traveled to a new destination? Metaphorically or physically, it’s all part of the the traveler’s path. For more songs that have inspired us at Gadling, here’s our series Sounds of Travel. One of Annie’s songs was “America” as well.
And, here’s James Taylor singing “Sweet Baby James” in 1970. He’s traveled a bit himself since then.