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.



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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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April 13, 2018
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