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  • Writer's pictureHesh Meister

'Soul In Exile' Lyric: SHORE POINTS

(And so it was

Three left lanes to the shore points

All roads lead to the shore points.)

Well we heard it on the highway

On our way down to the shore

It was broadcast with the immediacy

of a cannon blast from a battery

of the coast defense artillery

that exists no more.

Down the turnpike, down the parkway

In the lazy lethargy of an August day

Through all the towns on 36 along the bay

We set off to explore.

Keyport, Keansburg, Leonardo

Jettisoning all our baggage and extra cargo

Through Middletown and into Atlantic Highlands

Headed for the shifting sands and barrier islands

Atop Mt. Mitchill looking down at Sandy Hook

And across the bay at the oppression we finally shook

Exit 117

All roads lead to the shore points.

Up the twisting, winding road to the Twin Lights

Looking down at the Navesink and Sea Bright

With the wide-open ocean over open sights

Dazzled by the diamonds of the morning light

And on through Rumson and Red Bank on a side trip

Through the land of the hopelessly rich and terminally hip

Exit 109

All roads lead to the shore points.

Monmouth Mall, Monmouth Park, and Monmouth Beach

Filling the void, stepping into the breach

Long Branch, West End, and Elberon

For a brief sojourn before moving on

May all the SYs in Deal get a clue and get real

And may Loch Arbour and Allenhurst be spared two opposing worlds’ worst

Exit 105

All roads lead to the shore points.

The wreckage of what once was lies hard and stark

What can be only gets a fractional start

Born to run, glory days, and dancing in the dark

Everybody here has got a hungry heart

Waiting for the fire to be lit by the spark

In the struggling city of Asbury Park

Exit 102

All roads lead to the shore points.

A retreat from the profane for which its vaunted founders strove

Where the state was restrained and the church bloomed and throve

Now is it the Lord’s Square Mile and a spiritual trove

Or the land of fruits and nuts, that Ocean Grove

But don’t blink too fast or it’ll all be gone

And you’ll be comparing and contrasting in Bradley Beach and Avon

Exit 100

All roads lead to the shore points.

Belmar, a party town tries to shake its image

Locals and bennies locked in a line of scrimmage

Bennies don’t want to give up their summerlong spring break

Locals are envious of their neighboring Spring Lake

Manasquan, with a bit of both, can go either way

Sea Girt and Brielle stay well out of the fray

Exit 98

All roads lead to the shore points.

All boiled down, this shore point town is the region’s quintessence

Fun and thrills, for over-the-hills and pre-pubescents

The same five bands, the DJs canned, playing to post-adolescents

Newly legal, pheromonal and adrenal, in beer-buzz luminescence

The rides and games, the owner’s name, its omnipresent reach

You can wonder only who really owns Point Pleasant Beach

Exit 90

All roads lead to the shore points.

Strung out like beads along southern 35

Where in unexpected moments our love came alive

Jumped off from Bay Head and Mantoloking

In winter cruise through, in summer traffic choking

Chadwick, Normandy Beach, endless tackle-box rows

Lavallette, Ortley Beach, and so it goes

Exit 88

All roads lead to the shore points.

Amusement piers in ethereal lights

Orbit through the summer like satellites

Droves of nascent heavy metalites

Wander the planks in search of noisy delights

To satisfy long restless reckless nights

In the endless parade of Seaside Heights

Exit 82

All roads lead to the shore points.

Running parallel along Rt 9

Wandering mesmerized and spellbound through the pines

Beachwood, Bayville, remember that time

The gasket blew and sent our temp over the line

Toms River through Forked River, on through Oyster Creek

And its unsteady deadly power, know not of what we seek

Exits 80 and 74

All roads lead to the shore points.

They say that if you go into those pine barrens, you don’t come out

The dark woods will swallow up your cries and shouts

So you unintrepid souls would do best to heed our words

Stick to the roads and follow the sound you’d not expect to be heard

In Waretown tonight at the Royal Piney Hall

And fight the urge to follow your primeval call

Exit 69

All roads lead to the shore points.

Barnegat (Light) and Loveladies, sea and sky

Harvey Cedars and Surf City, rent or buy

Ship Bottom and Beach Haven, both low and high

The parties are never in short supply

It lives for summer, that no one can deny

Long Beach Island, alias LBI

Exit 63

All roads lead to the shore points.

The Manahawkin halfway point, we’ve come this far

We plowed through Tuckerton down Great Bay Blvd.

Past Mystic Island, following the glow on the horizon

Where we could see the casino lights eerily rising

To the ends of the road, where we’ll again renew our vow

Now as forever, forever is now

Exit 58

All roads lead to the shore points.

And though the lights beckon from a point so seemingly near

It’s back around the long way ‘cause we can’t get there from here

Through the woods and over the rivers, Bass and Mullica we go

Ignore ye olde historick touriste trappes out only for our dough

And on into the AC bedrooms of Absecon and Brigantine

Where we’ll pause and prepare for the next big scene

Exits 50, 48, and 44

All roads lead to the shore points.

Gleaming, polished up, and pretty

Bumps butts with the down and gritty

Successful take-your-chancers all giddy

Thinking they beat the regulating committee

Oh Lord, on the losers have pity

Hypnotized by the lure of Atlantic City

Exit 40 and 38

All roads lead to the shore points.

Headed on south through Ventnor, Margate, and Longport

Elephants and cheesesteaks, high hopes that fall short

Glided gracefully across the bridge over the Great Egg

On through Ocean City on the next leg

Strathmere, Sea Isle City, Avalon, Stone Harbor

The Ocean Drive in all its splendor, regarded briefly but with ardor

Exits 37 through 10

All roads lead to the shore points.

Five mile beach with distractions aplenty

Like the above-named Seaside multiplied by twenty

All tacky and seedy and junkfood America

In sunbeaten libidinous never-neverland hysteria

A honky-tonk Shangri-La going back to many lost childhoods

In the doo-wop cheeze and boardwalk sleaze of the Wildwoods

Exit 4

All roads lead to the shore points.

At the very end of the GS Parkway

Where the ocean meets the mouth of Delaware Bay

On the southern tip of the state, there lay

A paradise of candyland palaces painted pretty and gay

Watch the brilliant sunset at the end of the long day

Drawn to the spiritual magnet of Cape May

Exit 0

All roads lead to the shore points.

Where do we go once we’ve reached the end

Once we watched the sun go down at day’s and land’s end

Can’t just turn around ‘cause of needs to tend

Can’t forever stay no matter how much we pretend

Come here to transcend but can’t comprehend

The road is paved with what we intend

No more exits

All roads lead away from the shore points.

We’ve taken this journey, now what does it all mean?

Is it all a blowing wind or a fleeting dream?

In a time when fear and terror dominate the scene

And the Great Creator’s name is co-opted or blasphemed

Such quests of the spirit are sure to seem

Superfluous, meaningless, and not worthy of esteem

No more exits


All roads lead to the shore points.

So here you have it—127 miles of strand

Vying for the position of this side’s holy land

A trek, a pilgrimage, was what was called for

To survey and claim this place we call the Jersey Shore

We’ve reached the land of dreams, with the help of The One

We can end the song, close the book, now the epic is done

Exits 11, 9, and 2; 117 through 0

All roads lead to the shore points.

©2019 The Hesh Inc.

exit 7a
Exit 7A ... all roads lead to the shore points.

I am breaking a cardinal rule here by posting a lyric that has yet to be recorded and is not, strictly speaking, an outtake. This is intended to be the epilogue, the grand finale of the Soul In Exile magnum opus, which will hopefully be recorded and released while I am still in this decade of my life. Question is, will it be recorded in this sprawling form, or will it somehow be edited for length as well as timeliness.

See, I first wrote it in the early 2000s, when I was still living at the Jersey Shore and still very much considered myself part of its fabric. Its issues resonated and each place had some sort of significance to me. I had moved there in 1990, remember, and I had wanted to live there long before that. When I finally did, I made the place mine by traveling its highways, municipal streets, and back roads, until I knew many of its holes in the ground—literal as well as figurative. (Working as a limousine driver in those early days, as much as I hated the job, went a long way toward familiarizing myself with much of the state, not just the Shore area.) Mind you, this was all before I ever imagined myself moving across the country and taking a fancy to Southern California, which turned my perception of many things upside down and inside out.

Its length is due to the fact that I wanted to say something about every little spot along the shore, starting from Sandy Hook Bay and ending in Cape May, with several detours inland. I wanted to catalogue my travels and perceptions and have it be the crowning jewel of the entire work.

But it has an even more interesting source of inspiration: The liturgical poems that are focal points of the Jewish High Holiday services, specifically "Melech Elyon" ("The Supreme King") and "Maaseh Elokaynu" ("The work of our G-d"). Each of these has the following features:

  1. a brief preamble at the very beginning,

  2. stanzas containing several rhymed lines, a line leading into the refrain, and the refrain itself, i.e., the title of the poem,

  3. each stanza describing another magnificent divine attribute, which we mere humans cannot begin to fathom,

  4. several stanzas toward the end questioning the whole thing,

  5. and a final, uplifting stanza, bringing it all home.

For years, during the era in which I was conceiving of Soul In Exile, writing and performing the songs, and recording them when I had the chance, I would attend services during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, reach these poems in the service, and wonder whether I could compose something similar but related to the themes in my work. But then the holidays would end and my attention would be taken up by other things. Every now and then my thoughts would come back to it, and I had sketched out several verses—those of Asbury Park (of course), Seaside Heights, Atlantic City, and Wildwood. And that's the way it stayed until 2002, when I took a crack at fleshing the rest of it out. It all came tumbling out in one huge paroxysm of writing that lasted several days. A few tweaks here and there, and it was done.

But what to do with it? It is so huge that it could take up an entire CD. It makes Bob Dylan's "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" look like a Ramones tune. I knew I wanted it to be the big finish to the entire opus, and I was not ready to record it yet. And as of this point, I am still not. The next phase of recording will probably commence in 2020, and there are about a dozen other songs to be recorded first.

HOWEVER, the song made its live debut at my farewell to the East Coast show at The Saint in Asbury Park in January, 2010, the last song in an hour-long set. Musically, it was based around the "Green Onions" groove, but rather than a 12-bar blues, it was stretched out to a 16-bar blues:



The song wowed the crowd, if I may say so myself. One notable member of the audience was Glen Burtnik, stalwart and veteran of the New Jersey music scene, former member of Styx, founder of The Weeklings, and in-demand sideman for international acts such as The Orchestra (ELO sans Jeff Lynne) and others. We chatted for a bit after the show and he told me he had been impressed by the size and scope of the song, as well as the playing. Compliments such as this don't come that often.

Glen Burtnik with The Hesh at The Saint
Pictures or it didn't happen.

When I finally commit this song to fixed form, it will probably retain its 16-bar-blues structure, but rather than "Green Onions," it will probably employ as its base "Boardwalk Blues," an instrumental that I composed on the piano when I was 15 years old, living in Israel and dreaming of the Jersey Shore. AND, I probably will edit for brevity, although it probably will remain an epic by my own standards. I will probably also update the subject matter somewhat so that the issues are less anchored to a specific era.

#JerseyShore #NewJersey #SoulInExile #originallyrics

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