Thursday, April 25, 2019

Western Stars

by Gregg Chadwick

Gregg Chadwick
Rio Grande
30"x40" oil on linen 2015

 Under blue skies on a California Spring day, I am listening to Bruce Springsteen's new song Hello Sunshine from his forthcoming album Western Stars. It is a country tinged song reminiscent of Harry Nilsson's Everybody's Talkin' from the movie, Midnight Cowboy.  
Over the years I have driven thousands of miles under wide open skies across the American west. Scanning the radio dial as I drove, I was searching for the sound of the western road. Today I found that cinematic sound in Springsteen's new song. A rhythmic wash like a distant train running in the distance underlies Hello SunshinePedal steel brings us into the west and the strings add a wide open sonic vista. Bruce's vocals are world weary but not defeated. 
Last September I ventured solo from Southern California to Chicago for a show of my artwork at The Other Art Fair in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood. The 2,000 mile drive took me across the western desert scapes of Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Western Colorado. The espresso fueled hours brought back memories of cross country trips with my family when I was a kid. At night under western stars, my dad drove with the window open to keep him alert. My brother and I would scan the license plates on the trucks and autos around us, hoping to get all 50.  The rushing sounds of wind and tires on the road muted my parent's conversation to a sort of road trip lullaby. I looked out the window as if I was in a movie. Each passing place, every passing car played a role in our family film. We drove from coast to coast - California to New Jersey and back. The last miles were always the most exciting. Driving up the New Jersey turnpike we could feel the power of Manhattan reaching out across the Hudson river. And on the return journey to California, we could see the glow of L.A. on the horizon as we grew close to home. 
Years later when I got out of college, the wanderlust remained. On nights when I didn't have to work the next day, I would take my car out on the road and drive hundreds of miles into the desert and back. As the pink light of sunrise glowed around me I would pull my car in back home. With the engine off, the car would lightly rumble like a horse after a run. I would pick up the morning paper from the driveway. I could taste fresh coffee already. 
Gregg Chadwick
Road Movie
48"x48" oil on linen 2013

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