Getting Ready For The Road

by Bob Sparrow

First, thanks to son, Jeff for the new Header – a great graphic designer if you ever need one!

Next, even though we have a new name, we’re keeping our same ‘Morning News in Verse’ domain, as we didn’t want to ask all you loyal subscribers to re-subscribe to a new blog site. Hope you enjoy our observations.

“You, who are on the road, must have a code that you can live by” Teach Your Children Well, Crosby, Still, Nash & Young

So many of us in the sixties listened to the lyrics above and all we heard were the great harmonies. Why was that? I could put it this way, no one remembers much about the sixties because if they did, they weren’t there, but I don’t want to drag out that old hackneyed phrase . . . oops, sorry. Perhaps the real reason was that most lyrics at the time generally contained the same message: grow your hair, make love not war, feed your head and smoke dried banana peels. Today as I sit in my cannabis-free home with hair disappearing and dropping pills for cholesterol and gout, I’ve started to listen to the words of songs. The lyrics above got me wondering about that opening line and its reference to the ‘code’ by which those on the road must live.

I developed a particular interest in finding this code, if in fact there was one, because as a recent retiree, I had some time on my hands and was looking to ‘hit the road’ to chronicle ‘life’s little observations’. Contemplating these lyrics, I wondered, “What’s this code thing all about?” Would I be out on the road and commit a major road faux pas and be told to get off the road until I had a better grasp of the ‘code’? The lyric kept running through my head, “. . . must have a code . . .” I felt like I couldn’t back out of my driveway until I found and deciphered the ‘code’. I needed to figure this all out fairly soon or risk becoming an agoraphobic.

Thus I began my search for the code. I was hoping that it wasn’t some mythical or unwritten code – those are the toughest to find and virtually impossible to crack – so I searched under the assumption that there was indeed something, somewhere used by ‘you who are on the road’ when traveling to guide you along your way. Search as I may, I found nothing; even Google was uncharacteristically quiet on the subject and offered no response to a ‘code of the road to live by’. I wondered, for the first time, if Google really did know everything.

I decided I needed to look into the origin of the lyrics.

The song first appeared in the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young album Déjà Vu, released in 1970. Stephen Stills wrote the music and Graham Nash wrote the lyrics that apparently dealt with the relationship with his father, who had spent time in prison. Prison? It was beginning to sound like something the country-western folks would have loved to get their hands on. In my research I found an interesting sidebar; Jerry Garcia agreed to play the steel pedal guitar on this song in exchange for harmony lessons for his band, The Grateful Dead. Based on the Dead’s subsequent album I’m guessing that C,S,N&Y never fulfilled their part of the exchange. My search, while interesting, gave me no clue as to the code. However, given the cast of characters, I concluded that hallucinogenic substances were probably involved and that the ‘code’ was most probably a figment of some very fertile imaginations. Clueless and codeless I hit the road.