Take Me to the River


Today I will journey far into the southwestern Missouri river lands to revel in the merriment of floating and camping with a migraine of children.

That means more than one; a group of them, correct? That's what Webster defines it as, I'm quite sure about that.

As I commence to packing up the family Jeepster, I mentally make a playlist in my mind.

A playlist of songs perfect for camping.

Now, I would immediately include an excerpt from The Hills Have Eyes since I'm terrified of inbreeders, and I know they are in those woods, watching, waiting, looking for someone to whisk away in the night and lock up in their windowless shanty house far above the river, but that's not very festive and certainly not appropriate for hip high ankle biters.

So, I table that idea and move on to a more family friendly, non-therapy needing catalog.

I have to include songs for the road trip down, float tunes, and finally fireside classics to wind down to.

I can name five right off the top for the ride down.

1. Sweet Thing by Keith Urban. Country? Yes, I'm aware of that. I tend to feel a little nitty gritty pickup trucky when I travel further than Eureka down the 44 line, so this fits in nicely with my newly acquired drawl.

2. Amie by Pure Prairie League. This one is a no brainer. This automatically goes on every road trip playlist. The fingerpicking intro sets you in a mood to roll the windows down, stick your arm out and hand surf the air gusts.

3. Never Going Back Again by The Mac. Fleetwood Mac that is. Lindsey Buckingham can pluck my musical heartstrings every day of the week. He is an underrated genius and I will fight you if you think differently.

4. Rapid Roy by Jim Croce. Or Car Wash Blues. Coin toss. Both are upbeat little ditties that get your fingers tapping on the steering wheel. Lyrics are fast and furious and utterly awesome. This man is missed. Fo' sho'.

5. Upside Down by Goldford. It's like I'm listening to a better John Mayer. It's just a cool, pure, simple song and I like it. Don't judge.

Now, we're floating down the river and the sun is shining down upon us. The day is warm and the water is cool. Lounging back, feet up on the rubber sidewalls, soaking up all that vitamin D and not caring that at some point, I'll look like the landlady in Something About Mary, I'm fairly positive my choice for the sounds of summer will include but not be limited to...

1. China Cat Sunflower. Not the Dead version, although that is awesome on its own, I kind of dig the Jackie Greene / Bob Weir version. It's acoustic hipness breeds happiness.

2. Anything, mostly anything by The Little River Band.

3. Steamroller Blues by James Taylor. Or Copperline. Or Shower the People, but only the live version where Arnold McCuller blows the shit away with his vocals. My man can sing some backup.

4. Shambala. I don't care if it's by Three Dog Night or the instrumental version that they used in the episode of Lost where Hurley jumpstarts the Volkswagen hippie bus. One I can sing with, the other I can swing with. Not that kind of swinging. Just to clarify. No key parties going on in my neighborhood.

5. Going to California. The Mandolin version by Led Zeppelin. All day long.

The sun is now setting and the campers are all sitting around the roaring fire, not unlike Tom Hanks monstrosity in Cast Away. Only one child has lost his eyebrows, so all in all, the camping trip has been a success. The s'mores have been eaten and the marshmallow that is still stuck on little Tommy's face will have been eaten off by various flying insects by morning. Again, a good night. As we settle into the evening and prepare to break out the adult beverages now that we are on dry land and no one will be leaving the campgrounds, it is time to mellow out for the night.

1. One Lonely Light by Amos Lee. I actually wouldn't care if he was singing a jingle for a dog food commercial, he's going to be on my list somewhere. He's amazing and beautiful and if you ever get a chance to see him live, I highly encourage it. Catch him in a smaller venue. He shines. Not in a creepy little boy living in your finger way.

2. Moondust by Terry Black. What?? Who the hell is Terry Black?? Pipe down, people. I am a sucker for bubblegummy, can I get some wine with that cheesy soundtrack songs and this one tops that chart. It appears on the epitome of summer camp soundtracks, Meatballs, which for the record, made it all the way to number 170 on the pop charts in August 1979. Side note: I love David Naughton in anything. An American Werewolf in London, Dr. Pepper commercials, Psych, and I love when the CITs start to fight over virgins or non-virgins as they start to groove at the dance with his masterpiece "Makin' It" playing in the background'. But, that's not the song on the soundtrack that makes me rewind over and over again. It's Moondust. When the counselors are on the overnighter and they are floating on the lake, the moon is shining and the lovin' is strong. It's possibly one of the worst songs in the history of music, but it soothes my soul. Great for a little moonlight chill under the stars.

3. Lenny by SRV. (That's Stevie Ray Vaughan for the musically impaired.) He makes the Strat sing like an angel. It is and shall remain my favorite SRV song. Period.

4. Peace of Mind by Loggins and Messina. Can't beat it. Perfect song for sitting by the river, drinking a longneck, talking shit about your sister / cousin. Just kidding. I don't drink beer.

5. Mondo Bongo by Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros. Now, as much as I like to enjoy this song when I'm south of the border eating chilaquiles and drinking tequila, it sits just as well south of the city. Strummer's laidback vibe makes me want to tango my way up the hill to the shower where I can scrub the Deep Woods Off from my skin so I can sleep without the chemicals slowly eating my flesh.

I know that my list is biased. Of course, it's biased. Because it's awesome. Don't lie, Craig. You know it's true.

Obviously, I'm full of shit. But do me a solid. Next time you find yourself floating down the Meramec with ten rugrats talking nonstop about Minecraft and how they love watching total losers that live in their parent's basements playing Minecraft and uploading videos to YouTube, maybe throw yourself a little mix with these songs on it and see if that doesn't help take the edge off.

Or, get shitfaced drunk.

Tomato, tomahto.