SONG TITLE: TRAVELIN’ LIGHT
PERFORMER: PETER CASE
SONGWRITER: PETER CASE
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1989
COMMENTS: Peter Case is probably about as close to Jimmie Rodgers’ spirit as we have gotten in the last couple of generations of songwriters. This is his classic invitation to the road. “So you’re a mixed up kid, come on and join the crowd of the ones who only fit where they’re not allowed.” He gave life to the romance of the hobo like no one since the Singin’ Brakeman.
Peter Case is considerably more sophisticated as a wordsmith though, with no disrespect intended for the classics. He really explains a lot in a few words, as in noting that when the character left his “childhood home no one cared to trace the tracks you laid.” Without getting overtly “artistic” about it, at his best he was totally articulate and detailed in both the physical and emotional descriptions of the joys of drifting and the emotional turmoil that keeps them moving.
Sometimes he did both at once. The classic example of Peter Case lyric writing is the line in the chorus here about having “a hole in your sole where the wind blows through” in describing the troubles of a young drifter learning the ropes. He could have used a few days partnered up with Roger Miller’s “king of the road.”
Most important, Case wrote at least as good and maybe better a melody as Rodgers or Miller ever wrote. Again, this is praise for the Mr. Case, not derision of the classics. He worked up good long extended melody lines, varied and distinctive, yet maintained an outstanding rhythmic thrust within the very tune, and the proper way the cadences work out is just outstanding craftsmanship.
Moreover, Case had the good services of a hotter band than any hobo you ever heard. The arrangements features the outstanding guitar work of David Hidalgo, on loan from Los Lobos. As side projects go, this song will whoop ass on even the Los Lobos song from Paul Simon’s Graceland – “All Around the World.”
They put a strong Mexican/Cajun gypsy spin on the song to make this a top flight swingin’ dance track that should theoretically have strong appeal to rock fans, classic country listeners, folkies, college kids, even Latin audiences.
You definitely MUST own the original Blue Guitar album, about which version of this song I’m talking. However, the St Jude album rates pretty high as well.Powered by Sidelines