I was playing around with a new version of one of my favorite toys the other day – Google Earth – and found something new to tinker with. How long this particular feature had been available, I don’t know, but I was looking at the overhead view of our house just to see the date of the latest imagery – when we first moved here, the imagery was old enough that it showed a driveway that no longer exists – and I saw graphics that showed little representations of cameras.
I clicked on one, and then clicked on the resulting popup, and I was looking at a view of our home as seen from Lincoln Avenue. I panned south and around, and there was the closed American Legion, but there was no sign of the brand new residence for chronic alcoholics. Now panning west, I went to the other side of Lincoln, and there were the railroad tracks and the houses on the other side. Then, panning north and then east, the view came back across Lincoln and I found the apartment complex adjacent to our place, and then I was panning south and looking back up the driveway to the garage.
I clicked out of the picture and then chose another of the multitude of camera graphics that had sprouted on the streets alongside our home and checked out a few more views. Then I was off to travel the world. I checked out the nearby intersection of Kilian Boulevard and Eighth Street S.E. for the houses where Rick and Rob and I grew up. I went to Minneapolis and found the apartment I lived in for seven years on Pleasant Avenue. Further south in the city, I found the field called Bossen Park, and – across the street – I saw the short fence behind my apartment building on nearby Bossen Terrace, the fence on which the Texas Gal and I were perched when we shared a memorable moment during one of her first visits to the Twin Cities.
I entered “Fredericia, Denmark” in the address bar and looked at street views of that city. The youth hostel where I lived is gone, replaced by houses, and Google’s street-level photographers have not yet gotten to the short street where I lived with my Danish family. I clicked to Paris and looked at the front door of the hotel on the Île de la Cité where I stayed with five other students for a few raucous days, then flew back across the Atlantic and looked for the house that was home for two years in Minot, North Dakota; the street had not yet been photographed.
The main street of tiny Conway Springs, Kansas, has been, and I took a quick look at the house where I spent three months during the summer of 1990, and then – as I did in real life during that summer twenty years ago – I zipped from Conway Springs to Columbia, Missouri. The house I first settled in on Ripley Street – the one in which I was overexposed to pesticide, an event that echoes in my health to this day – looks battered and careworn, but at least it’s still there. The house I fled to after the overexposure – where I rented the main floor apartment from my employer, Stephens College – is gone, a parking lot in its place.
I looked at that parking lot on Willis Avenue for a while, recalling my months in that main floor apartment, which was a pleasant refuge after the health scare on Ripley Street. And I thought about all the streets of my life, some of which I have yet to check out.
And I thought I’d check out some musical streets while I was at it:
Here’s “Jump Street” by Boz Scaggs from his 1976 album Silk Degrees, which spent five weeks at No. 2 during September and October that year, blocked from the top spot in the chart by Frampton Comes Alive!
The Orlons, an R&B group from Philadelphia, had five Top 40 hits in 1962 and 1963. The most successful was the first, “The Wah-Watusi,” which spent two weeks at No. 2 in July 1962. But my favorite is “South Street,” which went to No. 3 in April of 1963.
From what I can figure out, folk singer Ralph McTell recorded at least three versions of his magnificent song “Streets of London.” The first was on his 1969 album Spiral Staircase; another, was released as a single in 1974, according to various sources, and went to No. 2 on the British charts. It showed up on the album titled Streets . . . in 1975. I
think have no idea if the version used in the video below is that single version , though I’m not entirely certain. Nevertheless, it’s a gorgeous presentation of a great song.
Genya Ravan is a singer and producer whose story is amazing. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, she was a vocalist for the jazz-rock band Ten Wheel Drive (before starting her own solo career, which continues to this day; check out her page at Facebook). “Fourteenth Street (I Can’t Get Together)” is from 1971’s Peculiar Friends, the last Ten Wheel Drive album that had Ravan as lead singer. It cooks.
Somewhere, I came across an abum called The Burning of Atlanta by a group called the Spirit of Atlanta. Well, not quite a group. AMG says: “While essentially a vanity project for composer/producer/arranger Thomas Stewart, backed here by a cadre of ‘Hot ’Lanta’ session players, The Burning of Atlanta is nevertheless an excellent funk LP that boasts the panoramic scope of a classic blaxploitation soundtrack. With the vocals embedded deep in the mix, the emphasis lies squarely on the record’s intensely hypnotic grooves.” So here’s “Hunter Street” from 1973.
And we’ll end this trip through the streets with Richie Havens’ interpretation of Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia” from the 1997 album One Step Up/Two Steps Back: The Songs of Bruce Springsteen.
All things going well, I’ll be back Thursday with the next installment of the Ultimate Jukebox.