This Road Of Music
By Alan Rhody

Hello everyone and welcome to the second fifty years of my life! I want to thank everyone who helped make by 50th Birthday Bash and Fund-Raiser a most memorable and successful evening. It was a sellout and we raised a nice chunk of money for the Maurice L. Kohnhorst Memorial Rose Garden at Kentucky Children's Home. The garden is nearing completion thanks to much hard work and time, mainly from my sister Sarah and Eric Faber.

If you'd like to visit the garden, it's on the grounds of the Kentucky Children's Home in Lyndon, on the east side, between the two ball diamonds. K.C.H. is on LaGrange Road, about a mile east of its origination at Herr Lane and Lyndon Lane.

Oh, yes, whoever gave me the "Over the Hill" T-shirt, please let me know so I can thank you in my older and wiser way. I couldn't find any reference from whom it came.

In the recent travels department, I drove back to Nashville on October 11, spent all of two hours at home and left for the airport, where I departed for Landergin, Texas (about 35 miles west of Amarillo) and the 70th Anniversary of "The Mother Road," Route 66. I was invited to perform at the big shindig by David Sanger, the drummer for Asleep at the Wheel, and founder and president of Lazy S.O.B. Records. This is the label that released the eclectic collection, The Songs of Route 66, Songs of the All-American Highway, which includes my full-band version of "The Mother Road," which I co-wrote with Kevin Welch.

The two-day event had everything from cloggers and gun-slinging cowboys a la the Old West to a steak-eating contest and a chili cook-off. There were also some beautiful vintage classic automobiles. The music was provided by a regional band called The Vera Brothers, and country singer Dawn Merriott, as well as yours truly singing "The Mother Road" to open and close my set! It was great fun and I met a whole bunch of friendly folks. There was a Route 66 organization with representation from each of the eight states the famous highway runs through, all of whom are doing everything they can to keep the Mother Road alive and well.

The highlight for me was [that] immediately upon my arrival on the second when a spokesperson from each of the states represented said a few words to open the day's events. David Sanger also said his piece.

But topping this off was when author Michael Wallis, who wrote the book Route 66 The Mother Road (St. Martin's Press 1990) gave such a testament of the 'road,' with passages and reference to John Steinbeck, Woody Guthrie and Jack Kerouac, that I was moved to tears. And this was at 11 a.m., folks. It was a great pleasure not only to meet Michael finally, but also to spend a little time with him and his wife Susanne. He was as excited to meet me as I was him. He's become very familiar with our song and considers it the modern anthem of Route 66. I don't know a songwriter could receive a bigger compliment. I was a bit taken back by his reaction. He had met Kevin Welch a couple of years earlier at other "66" celebrations and felt this completed his knowledge of the song. I was most grateful.

The couple who more or less hosted this incredible gathering, George and Melba Rook, also stirred everyone's emotions with their pure character and down-to-earth ways. Melba told a story of a down-and-out family who showed up at their store (Route 66 Antiques and Soda Shop) selling rock crystals to try and work their way West where the eldest son was to have life-saving surgery. They promptly fed and helped on their way. The young man who was to have the surgery gave Melba his prize box of rocks.

What also struck me about this whole thing was that it was right there along side the old highway, which on that particular stretch of road runs parallel to I-40. You really felt the impact of the past and future meeting head-on.

As I sat in my seat flying back home with my new Route 66 ballcap proudly on my head plus a bag of T-shirts and a few other small souvenirs of my journey, I was inspired all over again and vowed to myself to get back to Landergin one day soon. And who knows, maybe a complete road trip on that great American highway that could take me from Chicago to L. A. and through "states I'd only dreamed of as I put that hammer down."

(Lyrics from "The Mother Road" © Sony/ATV, used by permission)