Cruising the Airline

If you’re a Mainer, I don’t need to tell you about The Airline.  Innocently listed on the map as Route #9, it begins (or ends, depending upon direction!) in Bangor and meanders for 95 miles through woods, hills, lakes, and streams before ending at the border town of Calais.  Many of the towns along the way are numbered – i.e., Township 24, Township 28, etc. – as a geographical guide for hunters and loggers.  It’s the real Maine.  (And all you Hyde folks who only know Bath, well, that’s Northern Massachusetts.)

Anyway, I found myself cruising The Airline late last Friday night en route to meeting up with my family on beautiful (!) West Grand Lake.  I had the whole road to myself.  Then again, drivers are advised to keep an eye out for wandering deer and moose as the road ranks high in car/animal collisions, a statistic that likely escapes the purview of most suburban folks.  (FWIW, The rule of thumb: You might survive a deer, but you’ll likely not walk away from an automotive encounter with 1600 pounds of moose.)

After passing through Brewer and continuing into increasingly isolated rurality – If that isn’t a word, it ought to be. – I set the iPod on shuffle.  Normally I’m an impatient listener, clicking through my 7,252 downloaded tunes in a never-ending quest for just the right sound for a given occasion.  This time I decided to go mindful, committing myself to refrain from pushing the click-through button for the entire trip along The Airline.  Here’s what came out:

– Ben Sidran – “Last Dance” – Off On the Live Side (1986)

– The Thorns – “Thorns” – Off The Thorns (2003)

– The Grateful Dead – “New, New Minglewood Blues” – Off What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been (1977)

– Aretha Franklin – “Tracks of My Tears” – Off Soul ’69

– Digable Planets – “Blowing Down” – Off Blowout Comb (1994)

– Dixie Hummingbirds – “I Bid You Goodnight” – Diamond Jubilation: 75th Anniversary (2003)

– Freedy Johnston – “If It’s True” – Off Never Home (1997)

– Grandaddy – “Lost on Yer Merry Way” – Off Across the Great Divide – Music Inspired by The Band (2005)

– Johnny Cash – “I Walk the Line” – Off @ San Quentin (1969).

– Diesel Doug & the Long Haul Truckers – “An Angel Not a Saint” – Off Mistakes Were Made (2006)

– Harry Nilsson – “Over the Rainbow” – Off A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night (1973)

– Charles Mingus – “The Shoes of the Fisherman’s Wife Are Some Jive Ass Sneakers” – Off Let My Children Hear Music (1972).

– Bob Dylan – “Like a Rolling Stone” – Off Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

– Rolling Stones – “Following the River” – Exile on Main Street – Deluxe Remix Version (2010)

– Levon Helm – “Back to Memphis” – Off Ramble at the Ryman (2011)

– Bob Weir & Rob Wasserman – “Fever” – Off Bob Weir & Rob Wasserman Live (1988)

– Steely Dan – “Your Gold Teeth” – Off Countdown to Ecstasy (1973)

– NRBQ – “That’s Alright” – Off Peek-a-Boo: The Best of NRBQ 1969-89 (1990)

– Brian Wilson – “I’ve Got a Crush on You” – Off Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin (2010)

– The Band – “Beautiful Thing (Song Sketch)” – Off A Musical History: Boxed Set (2005)

– Michael Jackson – “Carousel” – Off Thriller (1982)

– Charlie Haden & Hank Jones – “Hymn Medley: Abide w/Me/Just As I Am Without One Plea/What a Friend We Have in Jesus/Amazing Grace – Off Steal Away (1994)

– The Flatlanders – “Back to My Ole Molehill” – Off Wheels of Fortune (2004)

– Gram Parsons – “She” – Off GP (1973)

– Chris Knight – “The Jealous Kind” – Off The Jealous Kind (2003)

– Jelly Roll Morton & His Red Hots – “Kansas City Stomps” (1928) – Off R. Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country (2006)

– Bonnie Raitt – “Storm Warning” – Longing in Their Hearts (1994).

– John Hiatt – “Memphis in the Meantime” – Off Hiatt Comes Alive at Budokan? (1994)

I pulled into “Kenny’s Camp” just before midnight.  Maybe next time I’ll try the rumored dirt road short-cut that supposedly shaves 35 miles off the trip.

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld