Hitting the ‘Road’

After doing “street” songs last week, this seemed like the logical next step. Oddly, I had exactly 31 songs with “street” in the title, and the same number with “road.”

Some kind of volatile helplessness reigns …

“At the End of the Road,” Julie Miller
Bright Side of the Road,” Van Morrison
Car Wheels on a Gravel Road,” Lucinda Williams

Chicken Crosses the Road,” Terry Taylor
Country Road,” James Taylor
Crossroad Blues,” Robert Johnson
“Farther up the Road,” Vigilantes of Love
Further On (Up the Road),” Bruce Springsteen
Further On (Up the Road),” Johnny Cash
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” Elton John
Hit the Road to Dreamland,” Betty Hutton
Holiday Road,” Matt Pond PA
“King of the Road,” Jim White
Lonely Road,” Mark Heard
Lonesome Road,” Crooked Still
“Long Road,” Patty Griffin
Low Side of the Road,” Tom Waits
Main Road,” Victoria Williams
Middle of the Road,” The Pretenders
“More Than the Road,” Christine Havrilla
On the Road,” Tom Waits
Road Movie to Berlin,” They Might Be Giants
Road of the Righteous,” Dropkick Murphys
“Road So Clear,” Cassandra Wilson
Road to Peace,” Tom Waits
Rocking Horse Road,” Elvis Costello
South Ferry Road,” The Hooters
Telegraph Road,” Dire Straits
Thunder Road,” Bruce Springsteen
Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” The Beatles
Wrong Side of the Road,” Tom Waits

A thesaurus will tell you that “road” and “street” are synonyms. This is more evidence that synonyms are an imaginary creature dreamed up by people certain that denotation matters more than connotation. If you want to know the difference between a street and a road, go get three or four Tom Waits albums, it doesn’t matter which, and pay attention to when he sings about streets and when he sings about roads. Tom’ll explain it for you.

Or just go through these song titles and substitute in “street” for “road” and consider how it changes them. The King of the Street is a very different person from the King of the Road. Lonesome Road sounds like a journey while Lonesome Street sounds like a location — same with the Road/Street of the Righteous. Crossroad Blues is a life-changing turning point while Cross-street Blues sounds more like a traffic problem. And Hit the Street to Dreamland just sounds vaguely disreputable. I somehow lack the Willie Nelson classic, but On the Road Again is a very different sentiment than On the Street Again.

Or consider what just might maybe be, sometimes, my favorite song: Thunder Street just would not do. Nor would it be quite the same if Mary were to waste her summer praying in vain for a savior to rise from these roads.

Synonyms? There’s no such thing.

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  • Kiba

    And just to let my nerd flag fly…

    The Road Goes On from The Lord of the Rings musical.


  • Bless the Broken Road – Rascal Flatts
    Golden Road – the long instrumental piece that used to be played while they showed the winning team cut the baskets down after the NCAA Basketball Championship before playing One Shining Moment

  • glendanowakowsk

    Dust Down a Country Road – John Hiatt
    This wouldn’t work on a street either.

  • Interesting that I only have two songs in my collection with “street” in the title, and a good dozen or so with “road”. And probably a quarter of those come from various movie soundtracks.

    Road to Perdition is a grim movie with a gorgeous soundtrack that I highly recommend. And yeah, Street to Perdition would just sound silly.


  • thatotherjean

    Hit the Road, Jack – Ray Charles

    The Long and Winding Road – The Beatles

    Neither would work well as “street.”

  • I’ve now completed ripping all my music onto this PC, so let’s see how long this list will be:

    End Of The Road – Boyz II Men
    Further On (Up The Road) – Johnny Cash
    Good To Be On The Road Back Home Again – Cornershop
    Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John
    Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Keane
    Hit The Road Jack – Ray Charles
    (I’m A) Road Runner – Junior Walker & The All-Stars
    I Love Rocky Road – “Weird” Al Yankovic
    Jericho Road – Steve Earle
    King Of The Road – The Proclaimers
    Long Road – Pearl Jam
    Long Road To Ruin – Foo Fighters
    Middle Of The Road – The Pretenders
    Mississippi KKKrossroads – Chris Thomas King
    On The Road Again – Bob Dylan
    On The Road Again – Canned Heat

  • J Neo Marvin

    The British Road – Robert Wyatt
    Dirt Road Blues – Barn Owl
    Dirt Road Blues – Bob Dylan
    Doun De Road – Poet & The Roots (Linton Kwesi Johnson)
    Down The Road A Piece – The Rolling Stones
    The End Of Our Road  – Gladys Knight & The Pips
    Freedom Road – The Pharaohs
    Get Off the Road – The Cramps
    Go Down Emanuel Road – Harry Belafonte
    Good To Be On The Road Back Home Again – Cornershop
    Hello Sunday, Hello Road – Gil Scott-Heron
    Hit The Road Jack – Big Youth
    Horseradish Road – The Mountain Goats
    Hot Road – The Wailing Souls
    Hotel Road – The Mountain Goats
    I Love To Bumpity Bump (On A Bumpy Road With You)  – Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians
    Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road – Robert Wyatt
    Little Red Robin Hood Hit the Road – Robert Wyatt
    The Long and Winding Road – Langley Schools Music Project
    Long Long Road – Incredible String Band
    Long Promised Road – The Beach Boys
    Long Vermont Roads – The Magnetic Fields
    Road  – Nick Drake
    Road & Hedgehog – Tall Dwarfs
    Road Of Life – The Heptones
    Road Runner – Bo Diddley
    Road That Never Winds – Eleventh Dream Day
    Road To Florida – The Mekons
    Road to Morrocco – Mallard
    Road To Rock N’ Roll – Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros
    Roadkill – Pulp
    Roadrunner – Chris Spedding
    Roadrunner – The Modern Lovers
    Side O’ The Road – Creedence Clearwater Revival
    Six Days On The Road – Dave Dudley
    Southwood Plantation Road – The Mountain Goats
    Strangled Road – Six Organs Of Admittance
    This Road – The Minutemen
    Walk A Lonely Road – The Magnetic Fields
    Why Don’t We Do It In The Road? – The Beatles
    The Wrong Road – The Go-Betweens
    Yellow Brick Road – Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band

  • connorboone

    This Dark And Twisted Road – Abney Park
    The Long And Winding Road – The Beatles
    Road Trippin’ – Red Hot Chili Peppers
    Road Movie To Berlin – They Might Be Giants

    And I’ll be seeing Abney Park in two weeks when they return to the middle of absolutely nowhere for their second show here in two years.

  • My English teachers from middle school on taught that no two words in the English language are truly synonymous, something that had really been brought home by listening to my foreign exchange students in their struggles translating their thoughts into English.

  • friendly reader

    “The Japanese Alphabet Road with Chinese Bellflower’s Sweet Smell” from the Hellsing OST (again, TV series).
    “Long Road to Ruin” by the Foo Fighters
    “Silk Road” by Tan Dun from the soundtrack for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

  • vsm

    Synonyms are actually words with the same or very close meaning, precisely for the reason Fred mentions. Lots of linguists would agree that ‘same’ shouldn’t even be part of the definition.

  • This Dark and Twisted Road – Abney Park (high fives connorboone)

    Hm.  That seems to be it.  Guess I need to buy more music. Oh well… ;-)

  • no two words in the English language are truly synonymous, something that had really been brought home by listening to my foreign exchange students 

    At one point in my well-spent youth (a period of my life that mysteriously covers more territory the older I get) I was a volunteer ESL teacher, and I would encourage my students to bring me words or phrases they’d run into that day they were puzzled by.

    So one student asked me what was the difference between “stick” and “staff,” and I explained the connotations… and mentioned, in passing, that “staff” also described a group of people who worked together, like the staff of a company. A little later, someone asked me what the difference between “staff” and “club” was, and I started in on that, and explained that they were not-quite-synonyms in both meanings, which my class thought was delightfully perverse.

  • redsixwing

    “Road to Nowhere,” Talking Heads.

    Dave, I like that about “staff” and “club.”

  • A Hard Road – Black Sabbath
    Till We Run Out of Road – Jewel
    The Killing Road – Megadeth
    We Came Along This Road – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
    Road To Nowhere – Ozzy Osbourne
    Roads To Madness – Queensrÿche

  • Jim Roberts

    Whether this is accurate or not, it’s my perception that English has more synonyms than most other languages, probably because it is so very, very willing to steal vocabulary from any langauge it encounters. Frankly, I blame Shakespeare.

    “Winding Road” – Bonnie Sommerville

    (I don’t have many songs on my PC at the moment – this must be rectified.)

  • connorboone

    Thanks for the high-five.

    I actually took second in the costume contest they had during the break last year.  I’m not going as all-in this year, though.

  • Huh, lots of incidental TV/movie music on this one.

    Crossroads“, by Don McLean
    “Crossroads”, performed by the Takáts Tamás Dirty Blues Band
    Endless Roads“, by Neo
    Gyalogkakukk (Roadrunner)/It’s Over Now“, by Neo
     “(I’m A) Road Runner“, by Junior Walker and the All Stars
    坂道のテーマ (Hill Road Theme)“, by Nakaido “Chabo” Reichi

    Hit the Road Jack“, by Ray Charles
    桔梗薫るイロハ道 (The Japanese Alphabet Road with Chinese Bellflower’s Sweet Smell)“, by Ishii Yasushi

    That Lonesome Road“, performed by the King’s Singers
    Long Dark Road“, by the Hollies
    Long Promised Road“, by the Beach Boys
    Love is a Long Road“, by Tom Petty
    Podmóbű/Roadmovie“, by colorStar
    “Railroading on the Great Divide”, performed by the Children’s Chorus of Washington
    Road Movie“, by Yonderboi
    Road Runner“, by the Zombies
    Road to the West“, by the Seatbelts
    “Roadhouse Blues”, performed by the Takáts Tamás Dirty Blues Band
    Tobacco Road“, performed by the Hobo Blues Band

  • LouisDoench

     Very Cool! I discovered Abney Park last year looking for good Nanowrimo music. Very cool stuff.  If you like them you’ll probably like The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets.

  • phranckeaufile

    Not a song, but I have to say it:

    Road House!

  • Obitwo

    “Any Road” by George Harrison.

    I mean, come on!

  • rm

    I can’t believe I typed this. Of all of these, the one that jumps out as a great song is “Railroad Wings” by Patty Griffin. And it definitely would not mean the same thing to sing “Why Don’t We Do It in the Street?”

    Beaver Dam Road — Frank Proffitt
    Blowin’ Down This Road — Woody Guthrie
    Blowing Down This Old Dusty Road — Woody Guthrie
    Blue Railroad Train — Doc Watson
    The Butcher’s Boy (The Railroad Boy) — Buell Kazee
    Call of the Road — Doc Watson
    Copperhead Road — Steve Earle
    County Road Gang — Fields Ward
    Crossroad Blues — Fields Ward, Tom Hanaway, Honeyboy Edwards & James Cotton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cowboy Junkies, Turtle Island String Quartet, and of course Robert Johnson
    Green Green Rocky Road — Dave Van Ronk
    Dirt Road Blues — Bob Dylan
    Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky — The Country Gentlemen
    Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky — Wayfaring Strangers
    Down the Dirt Road Blues — Charley Patton
    Down the Old Plank Road — The Chieftans
    Down the Old Plank Road — Holy Modal Rounders
    Down the Road — John Herald & the Greenbriar Boys
    End of the Road — Jerry Lee Lewis
    False Knight on the Road — Fleet Foxes
    Fischer Store Road — Sarah Jarosz
    Further On (Up the Road) — Johnny Cash
    Go Dig My Grave (Railroad Boy) — Tom Carter
    Goin’ Down the Road — Bob Dylan
    Goin’ Down the Road — Elizabeth Mitchell
    Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad — Carolina Chocolate Drops
    Going Down the Road Feeling Bad — Woody Guthrie
    Goodbye Yellow Brick Road — Elton John
    Got No Lovin’ Baby Now (Lonesome Road) — Frank Hovington
    Got the Railroad Blues — Vernon Dalhart
    Mean Old Road — Robert A. Zimmerman with Danny Kalb & Ramblin’ Jack Elliott
    Hard Road — Lucinda Williams
    Hard Road — Mary Lou Lord
    Highway 80 (She’s a Mighty Good Road) — Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer
    I’ll Stay on the Right Road Now — Fa Sol La Singers
    I’m Workin’ On a Road (To Glory Land) — Flatt & Scruggs
    I’ve Been Working on the Railroad — Pete Seeger
    I’ve Got a New Road Under My Wheels — Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys
    I Play the Road — Zac Brown Band
    Ice on the Road — Norman Blake
    If I Die a Railroad Man — Green Baily
    The High Road to Linton — The Cape Cod Fiddlers
    Je M’En Vas Dans Le Chemin (Going Down the Road) — Blind Uncle Gaspard, Delma Lachney, & John Bertrand
    Jordan is a Hard Road to Travel — Uncle Dave Macon & His Fruit Jar Drinkers
    K. C. Jones (On the Road Again) — North Mississippi All-Stars
    K. C. Railroad Blues — Andrew & Jim Baxter
    King of the Road — Jerry Lee Lewis, The Proclaimers, Reid Jemieson, of course the great Roger Miller, Sugar Beats, Teddy Thompson & Rufus Wainwright
    Lafayette Railroad — Little Feat
    Little Boy Working on the Road — J. W. Day
    Lonesome Railroad — Tom Darby & Jimmie Tarlton
    Lonesome Road — Crooked Still
    The Lonesome Road — Sister Rosetta Tharpe
    Lonesome Road Blues — The Williamson Brothers, Eric Weissberg, Frank Hovington, Mike Seeger, Obray Ramsey, Sam Collins, Wade Mainer
    The Long and Winding Road — Aretha Franklin
    The Long and Winding Road — The Beatles
    The Long and Winding Road — Paul McCartney
    Look Down that Lonesome Road — John Jacob Niles
    Muddy Roads — Hammons Family
    Muddy Roads — Holly Tannen & Pete Cooper
    My Man’s a Jolly Railroad Man — Moonshine Kate
    New Railroad — Crooked Still
    On the Road — Sam Bush
    On the Road Again — Sugar Beats, Willie Nelson (album and live),
    On the Road Again — Memphis Jug Band (not the Willie)
    On the Road Again — Carolina Chocolate Drops (Jug Band, not Willie)
    One for My Baby (And One for the Road) — Johnny Mercer
    One for the Road — Bob Dylan
    The Open Road — Bela Fleck
    The Open Road — John Hiatt
    Railroad Bill — Crooked Still
    Railroad Bill — Frank Hutchinson
    Railroad Bill — Taj Mahal
    Railroad Blues — Woody Guthrie
    Railroad Boy — Furnace Mountain
    Railroad Boy — Joan Baez
    Railroad Boy — Bob Dylan
    Railroad Wings — Patty Griffin
    A Railroader Lover for Me — Emry Arthur & Della Hatfield
    Railroadin’ Some — Henry Thomas
    The Road — Danny O’Keefe
    Road Cases — The Drive-By Truckers
    The Road Goes On Forever — Robert Earl Keen
    Road Hog — John D. Loudermilk
    Road I’m Takin’ — Walt Cronin
    Road Runner — Bo Diddley
    Road Runner — Sugar Beats
    The Road to Austin — Tom Paley
    Road to Emmaus — Rickie Lee Jones
    The Road to Washington — Ernest V. Stoneman
    Roadblock — Janis Joplin
    Rocky Road — Alabama Sacred Harp Singers
    Rocky Road Blues — Bill Monroe
    Rocky Road Blues — The Home Folks
    Seven Bridges Road — The Eagles
    Side of the Road — Lucinda Williams
    Sisters of the Road — Uncle Earl
    Thunder Road — Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Tortoise
    Thunder Road — Cowboy Junkies
    Thunder Road — Hayward Williams
    True Love Travels on a Gravel Road — Elvis Presley
    True Love Travels on a Gravel Road — Percy Sledge
    Waiting at the End of the Road — Cliff Bruner’s Texas Wanderers
    Way Down the Old Plank Road — The Highwoods String Band
    Way Down the Old Plank Road — The Mammals
    Way Down the Old Plank Road — Uncle Dave Macon & Sam McGee
    Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? — The Beatles
    8 Days on the Road — Howard Tate

  • rm

    Wait, how do I not have “Hit the Road, Jack” and “Road to Nowhere”? With computerized music I am never sure what I have.

  • Urquelldude

    Red Dirt Road – Brooks & Dunn

  • Okay, I have very little music on my computer, so I wasn’t going to try to remember which tracks in my album collection might fit in with this week’s theme.  But then it hit me–nobody has mentioned the song “The Long Road” by Eddie Vedder with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, which means that nobody posting has Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture Dead Man Walking, which means that even Fred Clark does not have Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture Dead Man Walking, which is a shame.

    Seriously, the Dead Man Walking sorta-soundtrack has songs by Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, Suzanne Vega, Lyle Lovett, Tom Waits, Michelle Shocked, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Steve Earle, and Patti Smith, as well as two songs by the duo mentioned above.  How does our Slacktihost not have this?  How can such things be?

    And related to last week’s post:  people need the Ralph McTell song “Streets of London” just because it’s a classic.  If you can get the live version, go for it.

  • Kilburn High Road” – Flogging Molly

  • Amaryllis

    Never tire of the rolling wheels, never tire of the the ways of the world…

    No, “Never Tire of the Street” doesn’t sound the same at all.

    It seems that The Chieftains spent a lot of time on the road. And that everybody spent some time on Raglan Road.

     Car Wheels on a Gravel Road – Lucinda Williams
    The Crooked Road – Christy Moore
    The Dispute at the Crossroads – John Doherty
    Down the Road – Fred Jordan
    Further On (Up the Road) – Bruce Springsteen
    Jordan Is a Hard Road to Travel – The Chieftains with John Hiatt
    The Kilburn High Road – Flogging Molly
    Never Tire of the Road – Andy Irvine
    On Raglan Road – Mark Knopfler
    On Raglan Road – Van Morrison and the Chieftains
    On the Road to Lurgan – Paddy Killoran
    Raglan Road – The Chieftains with Joan Osborne
    Raglan Road – The Dubliners
    Raglan Road – Loreena McKennitt
    The Road’s My Middle Name – Bonnie Raitt
    The Road to Dundee – Derek Bell
    The Road to Lisdoonvarna – The Chieftains
    Road to Peace – Tom Waits
    Road to the Isles – The Homespun Ceilidh Band
    Rocky Road to Dublin – The Chieftains with The Rolling Stones (really!)
    Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen

  • borealys

    Cemetary Sideroad – The Tragically Hip
    Headlights on Dark Roads – Snow Patrol
    Hit the Road Jack – Ray Charles
    In the Road – Sarah Harmer
    Man’s Road – America
    Mountain Road – Keri Latimer
    Open Road Song – Eve 6
    Road – Brothers in Stereo
    The Road I’m On – 3 Doors Down
    Silver Road – Sarah Harmer
    Winding Road – Bonnie Somerville

  • Theo

    A Hard Road – Black Sabbath
    A13, Trunk Road to the Sea – Billy Bragg
    Copperhead Road – Steve Earle
    Dirt Road Blues – Bob Dylan
    Down the Road – Steve Earle
    False Knight on the Road – Tim Hart & Maddy Prior
    Further On up the Road – Johnny Cash
    Going Down the Road (Feeling Bad) – Woody Guthrie
    Jericho Road – Steve Earle
    Johnny B. Goode / Roadrunner (Medley) – the Sex Pistols
    Keep Us on the Road – Motörhead
    Neon Angels on the Road to Ruin – the Runaways
    On the Road Again – Bob Dylan
    The Recruiting Sergeant / The Rocky Road to Dublin / Galway Races (Medley) – the Pogues
    Road to Acceptance – Green Day
    Road to Nowhere – Ozzy Osbourne
    Roadblock – Big Brother & the Holding Company (Janis Joplin)
    Roadhouse Blues – the Doors
    Roadhouse Blues – Imperiet
    Roadrunner – Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers
    Roadrunner – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
    Standing in the Road – Blackfoot Sue
    Telephone Road – Steve Earle & the Fairfield Four
    Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen
    (We Are) the Road Crew – Motörhead
    Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? – the Beatles
    Wrong Side of the Road – Tom Waits

    27 songs, as opposed to 48 with ‘Street’.

  • imathers

    Cross the Road, Molina – Songs: Ohia
    Dirt Road Blues – Bob Dylan
    The Geese of Beverly Road – The National
    I’ve Lived on a Dirt Road All My Life – Caribou
    Ring Road – Underworld
    Roads – Portishead
    Standing at the Crossroads – Eddie & Ernie
    Take Me Home, Country Roads – Toots & The Maytals
    You Don’t Own the Road – The Kills
    100 & Something Foxhall Road – Six By Seven