After any significant trip, I try to post an itinerary that reflects the journey we’ve taken. During our most recent sojourn to the United States of America, however, our main goal was to visit family, so an itinerary would lack the usual sights and experiences in favour of get-togethers, dinners and catch ups. Before we left Australia, we joked that a trip to America is basically a journey through some of history’s most renowned songs. Every other city seems to have a song named after it, so as it turned out, ‘We’d all come to look for America’ (America, Simon and Garfunkel, 1968)!
We were based in ‘Dallas’ (The Flatlanders, 1990), Texas, and seeing that Linh’s family were not ‘Born in the USA’ (Bruce Springsteen, 1984), they joined us for some of the day trips we took. After a few days in Dallas, we took a drive to Arkansas to look at a farm that some of the family were hoping to buy, driving ‘Back to Oaklahoma’ (Ned Miller, 1970) for lunch and on to our base ‘Deep in the heart of Texas’ (June Hershey/Don Swander, 1941).
For our next outing, we ‘took it down to New Orleans’ (Big River, Johnny Cash, 1958) for the New Year’s Eve celebrations. We spent a night in what could easily have been ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ (The Animals, 1964) – or at least a shotgun house in the Ninth Ward – where we got a first-hand look at the gap between classes that exists in the country. On the way back to Dallas, we found ourselves ‘Busted flat in Baton Rouge’ (Me and Bobby McGee, Roger Miller, 1969) where we stopped for breakfast and a look at the steamers and battleship that were hidden by the morning fog that was just ‘Rollin’ on the River’ (Proud Mary, Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1967).
During the drive home we had hoped to drive through ‘Jackson, Mississippi’ (Kid Rock, 2003), and then on for a few hours of ‘Walking in Memphis’ (Marc Cohn, 1991). This would have allowed us to drive back into Texas ‘about a mile from Texarkana’ (Cottonfields, The Beach Boys, 1968). Unfortunately, time was against us as our hosts needed to get back to ‘Working for the man’ (Roy Orbison, 1986).
Once back in Texas, we took a drive south through ‘Austin’ (Blake Shelton, 2001) to see who was ‘Home in San Antonio’ (Bob Wills, 1944). As ‘Anybody going to San Antone’ (Charlie Pride, 1970) knows, this is the epicentre of Texan pride, and is the place where people go to ‘Remember the Alamo’ (Johnny Cash, 1963).
On our last day ‘somewhere down in Texas’ (George Strait, 2005) we thought we’d visit the other half of Texas’ twin cities. From now on, when people ask, ‘Does Fort Worth ever cross your mind?’ (George Strait, 1984) I’ll be able to say that it was nice, but I think of it only rarely. We took in the stockyards and the daily longhorn muster before getting ready to leave Texas.
The next morning we were ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’ (Jon Denver, 1969) to explore ‘The red hills of Utah (Marty Robbins, 1963) for some snowboarding at Park City. We even had a day to visit Antelope Island and the Bonneville salt flats. While visiting the speedway on the salt flats, we made time for a quick ‘Stop in Nevada’ (Billy Joel, 1973) at Wendover, where Con Air was filmed. Finally our time had come to head home and we boarded the plane filled with pop culture references and musical links ready to get back to the land ‘Down Under’ (Men at Work, 1981).
Note: the songs listed are mostly by the musicians who wrote or covered the version that I first heard.