Diversions :: William Tyler / Out West (A Tour Diary, Pt. 2 of 2)

Diversions, a recurring feature on Aquarium Drunkard, catches up with our favorite artists as they wax on subjects other than recording and performing. Below, part 2 of William Tyler’s stream of consciousness reflections concerning his late-Summer North American tour out west. Read part one, here. . .

It’s been said that this is a country ruled by its coastlines, but it’s only a half-truth. To be sure, the realms of big finance and cultural capital are largely controlled by the mega cities that line the east and west coasts. But the vast interior of the country is the realm of big dreaming, of yearning and reimagining. It’s often called the ‘heartland’ as if there is some continuum of wheat fields, big sky, churches, small towns in the middle of nowhere that produce football stars and corn, little else? Yet this is precisely the body integral of what makes the nation such a peculiar animal. The scope of the interior, the distances necessary to traverse, the land all at once full of haunted memory, new possibility, and a sly promise of something greater as one chases the horizon. This is the hypnosis of the land; the thing that keeps the traveler wandering, wondering, and moving westward.

I forgot that driving through Eastern Washington was a lot of high lonely desert, the promise of lush pine and frequent rainfall and access to the coast drawing you onward. I played in Seattle outside on a gorgeous Friday afternoon. Nothing like a place that doesn’t take sunny days for granted.

South through Portland, Eugene, down the coastal 101 highway. I was so relieved to be off the interstate for a few days, snaking through scenery humbling, exotic, and breathtakingly beautiful. Pine forests that seemed to rush all the way to the jagged coastline and then, off beyond the sheer cliffs and the sand dunes violently jutting down, nothing but the Pacific. This was the payoff for the folks who didn’t give out on the Oregon Trail. Manifest Destiny really began when Columbus accidentally hit a continent he didn’t think existed, and it ended when Lewis and Clark reached a point where they realized there wasn’t any further west you could go. The rest of the history was grisly detail.

I had stopped for a rare night off in Bandon, Oregon. My place of lodging for the night was an old school type drive up motel and it was walking distance from the waterfront. I wandered around the town at nightfall, grateful for an evening of respite in a quiet, hidden place. I found an Italian restaurant overlooking the dock and ate by myself half looking out the window, half paying attention to the conversation of the table beside me. It was a group of five or six middle aged guys from Texas, probably on a ‘let’s get the college gang back together’ kind of bro vibe, playing golf, drinking a lot of wine and scotch and making lots of bummer jokes about ‘the left coast’ and ‘bein out here with the liberals’ when the waiter wasn’t around. I was frightfully homesick for hearing southern accents, but not when the conversation was of this bent.

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