The endless road, to some, always still seems to have an end, and to others, it lives up to the name and the thousands of songs and books dedicated to the very romantic and heartbreaking spirit of that lonesome highway, lit dimly and stretching into all of shadows. Forget the road that Kerouac made historic as well as the one that Cormac McCarthy made stunning in its bare necessities to win the Pulitzer Prize a few years ago.
Or better yet, confuse them as one road - of unforgettable journey and post-apocalyptic desperation. When the pavement is really made endless, when there's no real home to return to, no domesticated animals that know their names to eagerly await the pitter of your feet and your rough belly rubs, the road is nothing more than agony that somehow begins to change a man or woman into a rambling person who follows the clouds and is so in touch with everything that the beauty still finds itself to them. They discover so much about themselves - what they need and mostly what they can do without - that they involuntarily become astute pairs of X-ray glasses into all of the non-ramblers that they meet and pass as a part of their travels.
Red Hunter, who has become this thing called Peter and the Wolf, is such a person who knows better than anyone the tragic implications - what it means for the next six hours alone in a car - of saying goodbye to another person - friend, foe, stranger just met or lover from many seasons. He knows what it means to say hello to a fresh face, for it could lead to somewhere that makes the goodbyes tougher, more of a struggle. The songs that he writes and plays always seem to have a light browning to them, the kind you admire in toast, the one that signifies the waning light of the sky, an indication that a lot of lessons have been filed away today, a lot of learning has taken place.
It's always a gathering of vibrations and moods and feelings and instances when Hunter is of the scene. He comes from his own individual implorium (a place invented right here on this glowing page that is a personal laboratory that's not solely about cold studying, but more about the scientist interacting with all that's being viewed) that sees for itself, that samples the tart and the sweet far longer than it would take a normal person to make the designation between the two. It makes for deeper connection and all of that can be heard in the albums Lightness and The Ivori Palms, representations of the many-splendored restless soul of Hunter. He sings, "For one shining minute we're all okay," in "Race Around the World" and it's enchanting to want to believe that he means for this shining minute to be just one our of an entire day, that fragment of solemnity, of quaint calmness and still body and mind that it took 23 hours and 59 minutes to finally accomplish. It could be all we work for - that one minute. He takes to the road without letting it tire him much and there's gorgeous evidence of the things he's deciphered about the world in all of his imaginative and exasperatingly effortless breezes of songs. He must sometimes choke up at the sunsets that he dreams about all day long, anticipating the ways in which they might blind him, blowing west as he tries to unwind. He must appreciate the last paragraph of McCarthy's book, "Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not to be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery."
*Essay originally published April, 2008