"A Tombstone Every Mile," Dick Curless
He had a patch and a voice as deep as Johnny Cash’s. Dick Curless was also from Maine. And this song, an ode to a deadly stretch of road up north in Maine that’s “never, ever, ever seen a smile,” was my subtle reminder to the production kids driving to watch the black ice.
"Positively 4th Street," The Byrds
This song accomplishes 2 things. It lets me play a little Dylan without annoying Stitz with Dylan’s voice and it gives me a chance to highlight Clarence White’s guitar playing. White, born in Lewiston, ME, joined the Byrds after their commercial glory days but his pulls and twangy fills are the highlight in version 2.0 of Roger McGuinn’s band.
"Mercury’s Blues," Kenny Roby
If you can find a better songwriter than North Carolina’s Kenny Roby, throw that stuff on a zip drive and pop it in the mail. This is off Roby’s first solo album, after the breakup of his Twangcore-produced 6 Sting Drag.
"King of the Road," Roger Miller
Everybody knows this song. And everybody feels this song when you’re heading out of Greenville and know that miles and miles of Maine roadways -- that kind where your Starbucks app reveals there won’t be any lattes for hours -- await you. Is there anything cooler than when that string bass sounds, the fingers snap and Roger’s drawls out “I ain’t got no cigarettes.” Or that Roger Miller is heading to “Destination, Bangor, Maine.”
"Well, You Needn’t," Thelonious Monk
It’s hard to get anybody to dig the jazz on the road. The kids have never heard it. The old folks go for rap or Rush. This song, I think, should be the exception. I’m pulling the version of 1957’s “Monk’s Music.” That’s where Thelonious, beret and all, is crammed into a kid’s wagon. Nothing quite as cool as when Monk shouts “Coltrane” and the great saxophonist kicks into his solo.