I am writing this from Bethany, MO, on our way to Kansas City for a show. As I was standing outside the hotel having a morning cup of coffee I had a little 'woah, I'm touring America' moment.
America, I'm sure, means different things to us 'foreigners' coming over, living and working here. One of the reasons I connected so much to Woody Guthrie's 'Pastures Of Plenty' was the story of migrant workers coming here, working the land, traveling across this vast and diverse country. Well, that's me really.
Yesterday, we drove more miles than the length of England, for one show, and to get a little ways to the next. 3 people, in a van full of gear. It's not glamorous. It's not what half of our audience think is what we do, and even at its most tiring, relentless and uncomfortable, it is still an absolute dream come true.
While I wake up, and wait for the rest of the band to do the same, I wanted to write about what this country looks and feels like, as an 'Outsider Looking In'. It's a long one, but bear with me.
America looks like the movies. Big cars, pickup trucks, drive thru's and ins, massive portions of food. Endless straight roads. Huge trucks hauling their loads. Who knows where they're going. Scenery changing from lush green rolling hills and forest, to flat plains and farmland dotted with red barns and silos. Seemingly out of nowhere, the high plains, dotted with ancient canyons and vast mountains spring from nowhere, eventually giving way to unforgiving but beautiful desert that roll down to the pacific coast, again turning into massive forests in places, massive valleys and sandy beaches in others. It's totally and utterly mind blowing.
I've been to 48 of the 50 states now. Alaska and Hawaii still on the list.
Describing America to someone who's never been is almost impossible. I was once flying from Manchester UK to see my sister in Malta. I was carrying my mandolin case, which is always a great converstIon starter;
"What's that you've got there then?"
"oh it's a mandolin."
"very nice, where are you from? "
"The Isle of Man, but I live in Chicago now"
"Really? You like it? We didn't like it in America at all!"
"Love it, great place to live. Sorry you didn't like it! Where did you go?!"
"Las Vegas, 2 weeks".
End of conversation. You are judging a country 3,500 miles wide on a 2 mile strip of debauchary, seediness - basically an adult theme park you stayed in for two solid weeks. It's like judging the entire of the UK after going to Alton Towers one time. With more alcohol.
To experience the U.S is to travel across it, to see that scenery change, to find the family run little restaurants and diners and shops in between the iconic and incredible cities that seem to have grown out of the ground as if they were always there. To meet the fantastic people here. America has got to be the friendliest place I've ever traveled to. I maintain its a wonderful place, filled with wonderful people, poorly represented outside its borders.
I've seen a lot of it, and there's still more to see. It's so vast and diverse - it's totally understandable that a good portion of Americans haven't been out of the country. I've made a home here, my Fiancée is from here. So are my two cats. I still miss home (Isle Of Man home) and still maintain that there is no such thing as 'The Best Country In The World', only 'A Country In The World'.
This is a very good one. Not without its faults or quirks, but an inherently good one.