The Sounds of Travel 3: “The Lakes of Pontchartrain”

Here at Gadling we’ll be highlighting some of our favorite sounds from the road and giving you a sample of each — maybe you’ll find the same inspiration that we did, but at the very least, hopefully you’ll think that they’re good songs.

Got a favorite of your own? Leave it in the Comments and we’ll post it at the end of the series.

Week 3 – “The Lakes of Pontchartrain,” performed by Paul Brady

I first heard this Civil War-era song when the bluegrass band Nickel Creek played it at one of their concerts several years ago. Since then, I’ve tracked down several versions of it, including a cover by Bob Dylan and a fantastic one by the Be Good Tanyas.

The song itself is old, sure, but the themes it deals with are timeless: the strange, indescribable feeling that new places bring, the hospitality of complete strangers, the memories of life’s finished chapters, and the thoughts about what could have been.

Here are the opening lyrics, discussing (in my mind, anyway) the homesickness that travelers often feel when they leave home:

It was on one bright March morning
I bid New Orleans adieu
And I took the road to Jackson town
My fortune to renew
I cursed all foreign money
No credit could I gain
Which filled my heart with longing
For the lakes of Pontchartrain

And here’s a verse about the generosity and hospitality with which travelers are so often met:

I said my pretty Creole girl
My money here’s no good
And if it weren’t for the alligators
I’d sleep out in the wood
“You’re welcome here kind stranger
Our house is very plain
But we never turned a stranger out
On the banks of Pontchartrain “

Here are the rest of the lyrics, in case you’re interested.

Click here for previous Sounds of Travel.