This is the prelude to my odyssey.
I’m gonna travel to the Western Sea
And find what’s waiting there for me.
More important than the scenery,
I’m gonna learn what’s inside me
And become a better man…
They say that I’m a better man than most,
But they know less of me than of their ghosts.
I can’t help, but wonder what my odds are.
I’d be much safer in a brand new car,
But then I’d not be following my star.
So take me Lord, if you like.
I’d rather die on a motorbike
Than prone in a shade of ghostly white.
Either way I’ll be a better man than now.
I only look to You to show me how.
In March of 1987, I promised to ride my friend’s 1976 Triumph Bonneville from West Virginia to his home in California. He’d left it behind when he went off to graduate school and I volunteered to deliver it to him. I don’t know what I was thinking. I knew the bike pretty well because my father owned an identical model and I was a fair-to-middlin’ Whitworth wrench. Turns out, fixing the bike wasn’t a problem, but finding parts in West Memphis, Arkansas and McLean, Texas was. I battled weather, hypothermia, mechanical breakdowns, and tertiary numbutt (it took 6 years before the feeling returned to certain parts of my body). What was supposed to take 3 or 4 days took all week. I lost half a day twice with breakdowns and was delayed a full 24 hours when the road iced up and the bike froze to the parking lot…but I made it.
I guess I saw this trip as a rite of passage and I expected it to be insightful…it wasn’t really. I kept a journal, but I don’t even know where it is anymore.
Anyway, the night before I left, I wrote and recorded this song on my cassette player in my apartment in Morgantown. Clearly I was aware of the dangerous nature of the trip. I didn’t tell anyone but my sister and my friend in California that I was going to do this.
Originally, the vocal was recorded on the left channel and the guitar was on the right channel. I kept most of the separation, but mixed them together a little.
I played the guitar and sang the lyric.
Originally recorded in 2-track stereo in 1987. Re-engineered to digital from the stereo mixdown using Cool96 September 1999.