At the tail end of the summer of 2008, with murmurs of great depression in the air, a band of great American musicians crammed themselves into an RV and took to Route 66, the Mother Road, much like the Okies in Steinbeck’s masterpiece, seeking something like a new home. It was a noble undertaking and a foolish lark. They didn’t really know what they were looking for, but they had hope that they would find it nonetheless in the journey itself.
They began in Chicago and followed the old broken highway as best they could for 2500 miles, through eight states in the tired heart of a once great land; mile by mile rediscovering bits and pieces of its former glory and collecting them as spiritual souvenirs. On this journey they encountered the vast congregation of the heartland and learned that the magic of the Mother Road flowed and still flows from the people who live on it and work off it and the souls who make their way upon it. Folks. Neighbors. Fellow travelers. The least of these my brethren. They received lessons in mercy, humility, hospitality, fortitude and grace from the salty, stalwart ilk of Americana lore and they glimpsed the face of Christ in the toothless grins of over-alled geezers and the hope-filled eyes of Navajo children.
The journey was not without its perils, however. Prayers for traveling mercies were offered both for themselves and for those with whom they shared the road, for the only way Mike could avoid being carsick was to drive and in keeping with their moniker they did get lost a few times; a few wrong turns here and there; a few missed turnoffs (notably that left turn in Albuquerque.) And Lord knows, sitting in a motor home for three weeks will give anyone the Grapes of Wrath, but by and large they wended their way further up and further in, following the setting sun.
By forsaking the broad road and sticking to the scenic routes the four Lost Dogs found their way home. Not necessarily a new home, for California is the home of their forefathers, the home of half-remembered childhoods and simpler devotion. But to find the old home afresh, and to see it with the eyes of the heart is to find a spiritual home, which is, after all, the whole point of pilgrimage.
Through a new album of songs inspired by this expedition, the Dogs are getting ready to share their home movies with us all. The lights are dim, the coffee’s brewing and the slideshow is ready to start. Fourteen snapshots of a pilgrimage on the Glory Road, the Main Street of American culture, and believe me, it’s never looked quite like this before.