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Lyric of the Week: TURNPIKE BLUES / DESTINATION 99

Updated: May 29

Slicing like a laser

Trailing like a blazer

Slashing like a razor

through the refinery stench

The radio fast talker

The post-midnight stalker

I’m like Luke Skywalker

in the Death Star Trench

Turnpike divides ahead

Braced for what lies ahead

Trooper cruiser flies ahead

on a lean mean streak

She was shooting like a blaster

In the left lane but I passed her

I just got to go faster

I’m a speed speed freak.

Stop take ticket

Admission to the thicket

She was a speeding ticket

on the freeway of love

Lane change psychopathic

Stop and go spastic

Dual dual traffic

What was she thinking of?

From thirteen to eleven

From 18E to seven

It’s road rage armageddon

in the afternoon rush

Jackknifing and crashing

Red signs flashing

Drivers’ teeth gnashing

no love from this crush.

Where are we going

There is no way of knowing

Are we speeding or slowing

or just standing still?

Are we starting or ending

Living or pretending

Retracting or extending

Is it up or down hill?

Well, everybody’s got their somewhere to go

I know I haven’t found mine

Everybody’s going a hundred different places

I’m looking for Destination 99.

Everybody’s going somewhere

Everybody’s crossing a line

Everyone’s looking for their hundredth destination

I’m looking for Destination 99.

Don’t stop for a picture

You’ll get caught in the stricture

The law will be victor

and you’ll be the one to lose

And if you don’t find this amusing

Then get your clunker cruising

Got to keep on moving

or else you’ll end up with the blues

And hey I’m sick of riding

With you jawing and jiving

Let me take over driving

and I’ll make the first strike

And as we dive under the skyway

I’ll say we’re going my way

This ain’t just any old highway

this is the blues turnpike.

Where are we going

What kind of load are we towing

Which way’s the traffic flowing

Is it going anywhere?

Are we just lost and messed up

Where’s the nearest rest stop

Where are we gonna end up

How will we know we’re there?

Well, everybody’s got their somewhere to go

I know I haven’t reached mine

Everybody’s going a hundred different places

I’m going to Destination 99.

Everybody has to go somewhere

When they’re tired of toeing the line

Everyone’s looking for their hundredth destination

I’m looking for Destination 99.

©2024 The Hesh Inc.

"Stempunk NJTP" - original AI art by The Hesh Inc.
This ain’t just any old highway, this is the blues turnpike.

The New Jersey Turnpike looms large in my consciousness, as it does to almost anyone who grew up in the Middle Atlantic region of the USA and especially in the state of NJ. Since the time I was born, I was traveling this monster of a road when going just about anywhere west and south out of the New York area, and I still do. I always get a sense of the musicality of this road whenever I'm on it; each passing feature, each ramp, curve, rest area, water tower, refinery, and exit has its own unique musical tone. I tried capturing this sense when I took courses in Electronic Music at Brookdale College during the 1990s; I had a great time composing this piece, "Turnpike Blues," as my honors project.


The first lyric ideas, some of which populate the first and second verses, came to me during my first stint as a limousine driver during the year and a half prior to attending Brookdale. Later on, when I shared my musical idea with my friend and co-worker Angela C'bro, she mentioned to me that she also had an idea for a song about driving on the New Jersey highways, which she titled "Destination 99." I told her I loved the idea, and that I would include it in my song about the Turnpike, if she didn't mind. These reached their fruition during my second stint as a limo driver in 2002-2003, when I wrote the pre-choruses ("Where are we going") and the choruses ("Well, everybody’s got their somewhere to go"). So the credit for those must go to her as well.


I will probably record this as a combination of electronic and rock-band arrangements when I finally finish my Soul In Exile magnum opus, of which this constitutes the "opening salvo" of the next installment, hopefully before too long.

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