Letter: We’ve all been down ‘This Road’ before

This song has been stuck in my head since the town hall meeting hosted by the Rappahannock News last week. I thought it might give some perspective about what seems to have drawn all of us, on all sides of the debate, to the county.

I’d almost moved to Rappahannock County in the early ’70s but went to West Virginia instead. Somewhere, deep in memory, was this willow tree overhanging a river. I couldn’t remember where that came from until we moved here in 1985 and I saw the tree again where U.S. 211 and Gid Brown Hollow meet. When they four-laned U.S. 211, cut down the tree and straightened out the entrance to Gid Brown, my friend John McCutcheon and I wrote this song called “This Road.” I recorded it with my band Trapezoid.

For all of our Rappahannock friends, there’s a free download at http://bit.ly/thisroad.

“This Road”
© 1993 P. Reisler/Zoidsongs (ASCAP) and John McCutcheon/Appalsongs (ASCAP)

The road stirs in the distance

I stop and strain to view

across the bridge around the bend

another passing through

he trails the road behind him

never waves or slows

A headlong flight to somewhere else

he hurries down the road

Who is this passing stranger

Who travels all alone

Along some road to nowhere

So far away from home

I watch him at the crossing

I watch him fade to dust

he travels when he wants to

I travel when I must


This road was young when my granddad

first plowed this tired land

this road saw neighbors come and go

and come and go again

across the river, through the gap

back and forth they flowed

out of mem’ry, out of sight

and out of this old road

I remember all the young men

Their call came loud and clear:

Get a job, get a car

Get the hell away from here

And, one by one, they all were blown

Like dust upon the wind

Till what was left were those who found

the road back home again


I guess the day will finally come

when this road’s just like the rest

No wild thread, but straight and wide

where cars pass two abreast

there’ll be no place for folks like me

no place for sweet and slow

down the highway fast and fierce

a long time down this road


for the sweetest days are the days I’ve known

standing here by the side of the road

watching others come and go

at home on this old road

Paul Reisler

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