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The record begins with a journey alongside Peter Levenda, a conspiracy writer who became obsessed with this Kentucky city, imagining it as the geographical nexus of history.
Drawing on Levenda’s very strange series of books called Sinister Forces and his trip southwards in a cherry-red convertible, the song sees the Kentucky landscape as a weird American panorama that combines Indian heritage (the legend that Kentucky means “dark and bloody ground” in some unknown Indian language), Colonel Sanders billboards, and hometown icons such as Charles Manson, Naomi Judd and Henry Clay.
The lyric “our traveling companions are the ghosts we’ve abandoned” serves as the mission statement of the record: that our inheritance as Americans are the unresolved questions of the past.
I'm following the river
Over dark and bloody ground
Past the white-haired colonels
And ancient Indian mounds
I have no traveling companion
Just the voice of Charles Manson
Singing "forever" on the radio
and I do believe I'll make it to Ashland
Naomi Judd is on the phone
She's askin' what I'll want to eat
And if I'll find those bones
That sleep beneath her quiet streets
My traveling companions
Are whistling through the canyons
And Henry Clay on the radio
Sings "no North, no South, no East, no West
In this chosen land
In this promised land
Our traveling companions
Are the ghosts we've abandoned
We listen for their secrets on the radio
And I do believe we'll find them
from Songs for the Forgotten Future Vol. 2,
released August 8, 2008
Doug Stone—vocals and guitar
Robin Aigner—backing vocals
David Wechsler—piano and backing vocals
Gerald Menke—pedal steel guitar