• The Hesh

Lyric of the Week: JUGHANDLELAND v.1


Well it’s past midnight in Boston and time just creeps

Something like one thirty in the morning

Heat’s on, wife’s gone, can’t get no sleep

And the weather outside is thunderstorming

I was gonna hit the road at the crack of dawn

But there’s no sense in laying here and waiting

So I shake a leg and shake off a yawn

Jump into the car and start the engine cannonading

Well she ain’t no fifty-nine Cadillac, Jack

She ain’t no classic-ass fifty-seven Chevy

They say she burns rice, I think “they” are full of shice

‘Cause she takes me to places unreached by those heavies

And this morning she’ll take me far away from this place

Where the only direction is backed into a corner

No more wild race, no more disgrace

And four more hours before I slip across the border

Full tank of gas and the oil changed

Fistful of quarters for the toll change

Got the stereo cranked and blasting through the roof

With my favorite rock’n’roll bands

Lightning and thunder surround me

Like hell breaking loose all around me

Well it doesn’t matter ‘cause my old world shatters

and my enemies scatter as I’m headed

down to Jughandleland.

At a truck stop on the Connecticut shore

Sleeping diesels roar to life

I give my own little roar and at half past four

I join the procession down ninety five

It’s a slalom race of pylons and shifting lanes

Barriers and ever-changing patterns

Of construction and constriction, arranged and rearranged

Like negotiating the rings of Saturn

And all the suburbanites in their little bedroom towns

Clustered along the main route

Bleed into the stream and slow the flow down

In the hardened artery of the morning commute

The tollbooth valves traffic like the flow of blood

Metering movement toward the city

Struggling and straining, holding back the flood

It doesn’t for a minute look pretty

But then the triple bypass road opens up

And the next thing you know, I’m free

Through the rear view I can see the sun coming up

As I ride the wave to the Tappan Zee

The river opens before me

I make my way over the span

Making good time as I slip across the line

Into Jughandleland.

Four in the morning, time to go to work

Decked out in my suit and tie

Better a limo driver than a sales jerk

And at the time not much else to try

To and from the airports for commission and tip

On the road for a three-year spell

Waiting for the arrival of my big ship

And in the meantime get to know the roads real well

Every little diner, motel, or go-go bar

Every little shortcut and back road

I could tell you how long and I could tell you how far

I could tell you how big the load

You’d think the magic and the freedom of the road would be lost

After countless trips so mundane

And after years of breathing in the stop-and-go exhaust

You’d think I’d lose a big piece of my brain

But there’s something there that keeps me behind that wheel

Maybe something I got from my dad

Just something I am, something I feel

Maybe something I just wish I had

Something I can’t get a handle on

Something I can’t understand

Something that keeps me turning right when I need to go left

Down in Jughandleland.

Twelve times three years since I started the voyage

And I’m still counting the white lines

Through slowdowns and backups I still have the courage

To look for Destination 99

No sleek machine with today’s gasoline

All the new boxes look alike

All the old cruisers are on the oldies scene

And prices are at an all-time spike

But tonight I’m back in my beat-up old box

Headed to I don’t know where

Crashing through the barriers and the roadblocks

Looking for something I know is out there

And if the highway’s blocked I’ll take the secondary

Nothing’s gonna stop my quest

And if the secondary’s backed up I’ll take the tertiary

Driven with a spirit obsessed

From the Parkway to the Turnpike to the steel graveyard

From the bombed-out back roads to the boulevard

From those in cars to make a living to those living in their cars

From the faded and the jaded to the shooting highway stars

They’re lost but somehow not hopeless

They still struggle for an upper hand

They may be wounded or dead but they’re resurrected

Forever and ever in Jughandleland.

© 2018 The Hesh Inc.

This is a typical example of the Jersey Jughandle.

Route 35 North and Deal Road, Ocean Township, NJ.

This song, an outtake from my Soul In Exile magnum opus, is (of course) a blatant Bossism. It started its life as "Another Cruising on the Highway Song" back in the days when I lived in Boston and wished nothing more than the ability to move to the Jersey Shore. It told the story of my post-midnight road trips from Boston to the Shore on nights when my then-wife went home to mother and I had no reason to keep eating beans.

Well, that marriage ended and I moved down to the Shore, and in short order I set about the business of putting together a band and finding my way into the local music scene. I made the mistake of showing "Another Cruising on the Highway Song" to a well-meaning person on the scene who said I shouldn't use it; comments like that can have a lot of negative impact on sensitive songwriters, and so the song remained in mothballs for the next few years.

But then Soul In Exile began to assume monolithic proportions, and I found that there were part of the story I still wanted to tell. So I pulled "Another Cruising on the Highway Song" out of storage and gave it a serious second look. Thinking I would create something with a hip-hop beat and a sample from an old bootleg in my possession, I recast the whole song in Springsteenian terms, added some autobiographical elements, and changed the title to be a play on one of Bruce's most epic songs.

I had the full intention of including it on one of the next albums, but seeing as I already had enough megillahs in the track list as well as another song, in my own voice and not Bruce's, that told the story more effectively, I decided to take this one out of the lineup and add it to the outtakes file.

Still, I like the musical idea of a sample of an alternate take of Bruce's song set over a hip-hop beat, so this may yet see the light of day.

#originallyrics #SoulInExile #NewJersey #BruceSpringsteen #outtakes

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