HOLIDAY: To ensure books arrive by 12/25: Order by 12/1 for international delivery and by 12/15 for domestic delivery.

Bonfire of Roadmaps

[ Regional/Texas ]

Bonfire of Roadmaps

By Joe Ely

Acclaimed singer-songwriter and Flatlanders band member Joe Ely creates an authentic picture in verse and drawings of a musician’s life on the road.

2007

$17.95$12.02

33% website discount price

Paperback

5.5 x 8.5 | 196 pp. | 31 illustrations

ISBN: 978-0-292-75629-8

Since he first hitched a ride out of Lubbock, Texas, at the age of sixteen, singer-songwriter and Flatlanders band member Joe Ely has been a road warrior, traveling highways and back roads across America and Europe, playing music for "2 hours of ecstasy" out of "22 hours of misery." To stay sane on the road, Ely keeps a journal, penning verses that sometimes morph into songs, and other times remain "snapshots of what was flying by, just out of reach, so to savor at a later date when the wheels stop rolling, and the gears quit grinding, and the engines shut down."

In Bonfire of Roadmaps, Ely takes readers on the road with him. Using verse passages from his road journals and his own drawings, Ely authentically re-creates the experience of a musician's life on tour, from the hard goodbyes at home, to the long hours on the road, to the exhilaration of a great live show, to the exhaustion after weeks of touring. Ely's road trips begin as he rides the rails to Manhattan in 1972 and continue up through recent concert tours with fellow Flatlanders Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock.

While acknowledging that "it is not the nature of a gypsy to look in the rearview mirror," Joe Ely nevertheless offers his many fans a revelatory look back over the roads he's traveled and the wisdom he's won from his experiences. And for "those who want to venture beyond the horizon just to see what is there... to those, I hope these accounts will give a glint of inspiration..."

  • 52 Cities till Christmas
  • Iron Rhinos
  • Bonfire of Roadmaps
  • One Fuse of a Summer
  • Lord of the Highway
  • Gulf War One
  • Jim Beam
  • Laredo East and West
  • On the Run Again
  • Afterword

Damn, Damn, Damn I kick my self out the door
Dragging my ball and chain
The yard cats scatter and the buzzards take flight
Crazy ol' Joe is back on the road

***

First stop London, God not again
I haven't been there since the Gulf War made pebbles
From the proud stone banks of the Mesopotamia
And sold the rights to CNN and BBC

***

I take that back, I was there last week
Seeing the city through Marie's eyes of innocence
Tug boats became swans, busses, red castles on wheels
In a throng of storybook faces

***

And through the eyes of Sharon
Who saw the fabric, the lace and the burlap
The scarves and shawls that drape the city
And the blossoms on rusty security bars

***

Am I becoming another weary gypsy
Like those in Barcelona, drinking wine
At Public monuments and Urinals
Whose world has shriveled to a paper sack?

***

Jimmy called this morning
Worried about his father, 83 and waning
Saying sometime in the tour he might take leave
If his father's condition does worsen

***

We meet at the airport with huge red bags
Carter and Charles look like Irish Sherpas
Ready to make a climb to the Sunrise and back
We have 52 cities before Christmas

***

Back in the belly of the proverbial bird
And back to my seat at the back of the plane
Tho I'm not smoking now, I sit with the smokers
In training for the nights to follow

***

The man to my left looks through photographs
Of himself walking on coals, juggling fire
A drunken Detroit blonde has been cut off from the spigot
So she's conning me into rustling up her drinks

***

I toss and turn and shudder with reality
It'll be months till I see my girls again
Tho their smiles I carry with me
And give me strength when lights are low

***

We skid in to Gatwick parting the Red Fog
And take our place in the notorious queue
A mini van is waiting and we groan at the sight
As memories come back to smite us

***

I cash it in at the hotel and begin a deep troubled sleep
It blows me back to the dusty ol' Plains
My father came to tell me how he tried to hang on
But the forces of nature were against him

***

I vaguely remember my ancestors of old
Walking in the curves of Piccadilly
Ian says that England is trapped in its own history
Cruel nature doth trick the lazy to change

***

And change is in the wind and the News is hungry
There's trouble in the Beehive, the Royal family's pumpin' honey
They're feigning so cool, so wholesome, so majestic
Tho history is serving them an eviction notice with a gun to their head

***

Maybe a premonition, maybe it was in the wind
But Jimmy got a call from his sweet Claire
"Your daddy, he died at the dining room table
Across the ocean in sad Del Rio"

***

Poor Jimmy heads back across the Briny Drink
A half of a day into the tour
Our grief, in harmony, travels with him
As he is the soul of the band

***

The next day is a tempest, pre-show panic
We need a bass player who can learn the set in an instant
My whole life boiled down to a couple of hours
And the tour begins tonight in Leeds

***

I rush to the station with Carter and Charles
Missing our first train, catching the next
Screeching in to the station, the Irish Center by taxi
The souls of my boots still smoking

***

I play Leeds solo, just me and my guitar
And face culture shock, stone alone
The crowd seems not to mind that the band is vapor
And that the hotel is a Holiday Inn

Joe Ely is a legendary live performer whose music combines rock, country, folk, and Tex-Mex. In addition to his solo work, he is a member of the Flatlanders and has also performed with Bruce Springsteen, Los Super Seven, James McMurtry, and the Clash. His albums include the Grammy-Award-winning Los Super Seven, Letter to Laredo, I Heard It On the X, Wheels of Fortune, Streets of Sin, Now Again, Live at Antone's, Honky Tonk Masquerade, Live at Liberty Lunch, and Love and Danger. He lives in Austin, Texas.

"In Bonfire, I can't help but think of the Beat writers—Corso, Ginsberg, Burroughs, and mostly, of course, Kerouac.... Bonfire of Roadmaps, at its very best, is about where music comes from and how it comes from. It offers us a glimpse into the heart of music.... This book is true."

—Terry Allen