Take the Long Way Home

Photo by JOHN TOWNER on Unsplash

Supertramp. Wikipedia tells me the band name was inspired by a book, The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp, by Welsh poet W. H. Davies.

I’d never wondered about the name until now. I was not even ten years old when “The Logical Song” hit the airwaves, and it quickly became a childhood favorite. The band’s name (and “The Logical Song’s” lyrics) stood out in an era laden with disco one-hit-wonders. Their sound was certainly distinctive, so I just sort of took the name “Supertramp” as a given. You hear Roger Hodgson’s vocals, you know it’s Supertramp.

“The Logical Song” doesn’t hold the same sway over me as it once did. But there is another song from Supertramp’s Breakfast in America album that gets to me, every time I hear it. Every time. That song is “Take the Long Way Home.” Maybe it’s the harmonica, maybe it’s the lyrics, maybe it’s just the way it seems to evoke a certain, specific, plaintiveness in me.

These lyrics, in particular:

Does it feel that your life’s become a catastrophe?
Oh, it has to be for you to grow, boy
When you look through the years and see what you could have been
Oh, what you might have been,
If you’d had more time

Now, friends and family, please don’t read into this. There’s nothing catastrophic in my life, nor am I mourning any lost opportunities. Quite the contrary. I don’t even regret that it took me this long to really pursue fiction writing. It had to be when I was ready, and I didn’t know when that circumstance would occur until I came to it.

Maybe, I had to take the long way home to cross that point.

And, I love certain songs. It doesn’t mean those songs are mirroring my own feelings.

To prove that I’m not feeling particularly blue, I’ll conclude with a somewhat random thought. A few weeks ago, I wrote about Steve Winwood’s “While You See a Chance,” (which would release roughly 18 months after Supertramp’s “Take the Long Way Home”). When I saw the mega-blockbuster Avengers: Endgame, it felt like Steve Winwood might be having a moment. (Or, at least, a moment with me). His vocals are featured in the opening notes of the movie, as Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” plays while Tony Stark and Nebula pass time in a spaceship.

I thought it was a great transition from the bleak way Avengers: Infinity War ended. Catch these lyrics: “Do anything, take us out of this gloom / Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy.” Given the devastation caused by a snap of the fingers in Infinity War, I thought choosing that song was nothing short of inspired.

That’s it for now!

While You See a Chance

April’s quote: “Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come.”

There’s something I’ve been meaning to write about for a while, now: Steve Winwood’s song “While You See a Chance,” from the album Arc of a Diver, released in February 1981.

Wikipedia tells me it made it all the way to Number 7 on the “Billboard Hot 100” by April of that same year. Thirty-eight years ago.

I remember that song pushing all the right buttons for me. I was a pre-teen, my tastes and predilections beginning to form, starting to diverge from those of my six older siblings. While those tastes never developed me into a die-hard Steve Winwood fan, that song has always ranked pretty high among my all-time faves.

A few months ago, I got a yen to hear it, and looked it up on YouTube. It’s a truly bizarre video, featuring proto-Blue-Man-Group performers and really bad visual effects, including light flashes that feel seizure-inducing. If you’re curious, click here.

Spotify’s audio-only version is preferable. Not only because I don’t have to shield my eyes, but also because it’s apparently been re-mixed. There’s a weird dub spot that I remember from the radio version, that’s still on YouTube. At around 2:19, Steve Winwood’s vocals go up and end abruptly, at the end of the lyric “And don’t you wonder how you keep on moving? / One more day your way.” How “your way” comes out┬ánever sounded right to me. It’s fixed on Spotify.

And speaking of the lyrics, they’re still one of my favorite things about the song. These are perhaps my favorite verses:

“When some cold tomorrow finds you
When some sad old dream reminds you
How the endless road unwinds you

While you see a chance take it
Find romance, fake it
Because it’s all on you”

Looking back to the Spring of 1981, I couldn’t have fathomed the many ways the endless road would unwind me. But deep down, I’ve always known that it’s all on me to find a way to re-wind.

And nowhere do the words “it’s all on you” feel truer than when you’re trying to write a story. Solo, without collaborators. I’m pretty sure that’s why I got the yen to hear this song in the first place. It does a great job of reminding me of my youthful enthusiasm, and helping me tap into an energy I had before I started down this endless road. ­čÖé