Back in the day I had the (mis)fortune of having to make many long drives across various parts of the south central U.S. This was before satellite radio or iPods and rental cars didn’t have tape decks. So you listened to the radio; mostly country music, and in more than a few of those DJ’s minds Waylon and David Allen were a lot more respected than Garth or Travis. That early outlaw country, along with the scenery that’s different everywhere, but changes slowly, left an indelible print in my mind. All those memories came flooding back when I listened to the latest from West-Texan Scott Walker, entitled The Rock House Project. The songs for the record were first recorded with a group of Walker’s friends hanging for a couple of weeks in a 2-room rock house overlooking the Rio Grande.
The disc starts with a solid, southern rock ballad, Fourteen Days, about the singer’s girl leaving him and now he’s lost “like a lab rat in a maze.” Then, right into a tune that owes more than a little to the Doug Sahm sound, Deja Vu. Just Passing Through is another dance-compelling number that has a Roger Miller swing feel to it.
More than a little of the album explores the characters who do those long drives. I-35 is a fabulous honky tonk song with a ton of twang about a truck driver with a woman in every town. And Walker manages to capture even the verbal twang when he turns a single letter into a couple of syllables, eye-yi-thirty-five. The Lights Of Amarillo waltzes through the mind of a lonely truck driver. Glide Dyna Glide is a love song to two-wheeled transportation, namely a Harley. Find My Way goes to the other side entirely to the perspective of a hitch hiker trying to get home and not really certain even where that is.
About the author: I've actually driven from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I've seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night.