Even on the oldies sta­tion­s, you nev­er hear Al Ste­wart any more. In my youth he was a pret­ty big deal though, and had mega-hits with Year of the Cat and Time Pas­sages. Roads to Moscow wasn’t a big hit but it was al­ways my fave among his songs. I lis­tened to it again the oth­er night for the first time in years, and I was moved again by its sto­ry, and by its melod­ic grace.

Al’s al­ways been a bit (to use a Bri­tish word) naf­f; goofy-looking, yuck­ing it up, not much of a voice, not re­hears­ing much. But boy, some of those songs can get their hooks in­to you.

Roads to Moscow is a pret­ty straight­for­ward end-to-end nar­ra­tion of the Se­cond World War from the point of view of an or­di­nary Sovi­et in­fantry­man, from be­ing over­run in Oper­a­tion Bar­barossa to march­ing in­ex­orably on Ber­lin. I think it’s rea­son­ably his­tor­i­cal­ly ac­cu­rate. I’ll sam­ple a few lines:

And the evening sings in a voice of am­ber, the dawn is sure­ly com­ing
The morn­ing road leads to Stal­in­grad, and the sky is soft­ly hum­ming
Two bro­ken Tigers on fire in the night flick­er their souls to the wind
We wait in the lines for the fi­nal ap­proach to be­gin

General Guderian

“General Gud­e­ri­an sands at the crest of the hill…”

Go and read the whole sto­ry; it’s not long. It has a sad end­ing; most war sto­ries do, but es­pe­cial­ly this one.

This is #103 in the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. This tune on Spo­ti­fy, Ama­zon, iTunes. Here’s live grainy b&w video from 1977; but with OK sound and a good per­for­mance. I feel so sor­ry for the guy in the song.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Doug K (Apr 13 2018, at 10:52)

big Al Stewart fan, for these historical songs, and his whole approach to song writing. His last release was a great acoustic set of songs from a tour, Uncorked, with spectacular guitar playing from him and

Dave Nachmanoff.

An interview, link from my name above,

"Al: when I was in the Top 10, when I would play a show, the people who would come backstage would not be cute chicks in miniskirts. They would be, I don't know, 6-foot tall guys with glasses who wanted to talk about the Russian Revolution with me. Obviously, I had done something catastrophically wrong (laughing).

P&P: that's hilarious !

Al: hilarious for you maybe.. "

[link]

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