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Anyone can see the road that they walk on is paved in gold
April 24, 2014 6:08 AM   Subscribe

The 1998 hit "The Way" by Fastball was based on the real-life disappearance of an elderly couple in Texas: The song’s lyrics -- about an elderly couple who disappears from their home, finding immortality on the road -- seem sweet. That is, until "shadows" on the highway are referenced. The promises that the unnamed couple will never go home, grow old, or be hungry again seem a great deal less reassuring. Perhaps, the listener thinks, the "immortality" they found on the open road is purely allegorical.
posted by Cash4Lead (33 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I always thought that song was about a couple with young kids that committed suicide.
posted by double bubble at 6:20 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Before they were married, Lela was a widow and Raymond a widower, and after their death in Arkansas their bodies were buried next to those of their respective first spouses.

This is the point where the dust really kicked up into my eyes. Stupid dust.
posted by Etrigan at 6:23 AM on April 24 [3 favorites]


.
posted by Stoatfarm at 6:30 AM on April 24


I think of that song every time we have a "Silver Alert" for missing elderly here in Texas, which is sadly often.
posted by emjaybee at 6:31 AM on April 24


Strange how, in his recounting of how he was inspired to write the song, he doesn't mention ripping most of the melody off of "Delilah."
posted by chococat at 6:48 AM on April 24 [4 favorites]


Perhaps, the listener thinks, the "immortality" they found on the open road is purely allegorical.

As opposed to literal immortality? Making the song a fairy tale story about a couple who were transported to a magical, undying realm? That would be a pretty interesting take on it, actually -- that it's basically a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel in disposable pop-rock form.
posted by penduluum at 6:54 AM on April 24 [4 favorites]


I hope there's no disturbing back story to their song Out of My Head, because I love that song with a fierce passion.

This was a good read. It's heartbreaking that they were pulled over twice before it happened, there being no way to know what was going on in their heads to sense any danger.
posted by GrapeApiary at 7:00 AM on April 24


a missing persons bulletin was issued that day.

When that failed, a Thompson Twins alert was dispatched to all departments.
posted by dr_dank at 7:07 AM on April 24 [18 favorites]


Having lived a long and full life, they died together instantly in their 80's before dementia robbed them of their agency and freedom.

The true story doesn't seem that dark to me.
posted by justkevin at 7:15 AM on April 24 [16 favorites]


In our darkest times, my wife and I often referred to "The Way" as our theme song. Even now when we come across it on the radio my wife will crank it way up.
posted by Ber at 7:17 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


I've always loved this song, but can never ever remember what it's called or who it's by. I suspect this will remain the case.
posted by cthuljew at 7:48 AM on April 24


I love this song because you can dance the Rhumba to it.
posted by Roger Dodger at 8:03 AM on April 24 [3 favorites]


For some reason I strongly associate this song with the year I spent working in a North Austin porn store, but that would've been a couple of years before it was released. I don't recall listening to much radio at any other time in the second half of the 90's, though. Was Fastball's one hit so unavoidable that it somehow worked itself into my brain before it was even recorded?
posted by item at 8:08 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


I've always loved this song, but can never ever remember what it's called or who it's by. I suspect this will remain the case.

Let me help, the band is called Fastball. They named themselves after a porno.

Hideously inappropriate for the revelation, here, but there you go.
posted by LD Feral at 8:15 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


That song reminds me of Hotel California. All I ever really got from it was vague Californian 90s angst. As in, not angsty enough to count as real angst. And hit you over the head symbolism about shadows and light.

This story kind of slightly redeems it though.
posted by quincunx at 8:39 AM on April 24


can never ever remember what it's called or who it's by

That's because Fastball is the most generic band name possible. They were originally called Magneto U.S.A. which is a far superior, if highly litigable, name.
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:42 AM on April 24


Yeah...never really liked this song, see yesterday's post.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:51 AM on April 24


I grew up and lived just a few miles from where this story closes in Arkansas, and I never knew this was inspired by an actual event. Which surprises me, since I was a junior/senior in high school when it was playing every day on MTV and every radio station in the land.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:02 AM on April 24


Interesting story. Now I want to hear some of their other stuff. It only takes me 10-15 years to get around to that usually.

Two of the guys were in a band called Big Car before that. Apparently I am one of the only people who had that album.
posted by bongo_x at 9:10 AM on April 24


For some reason I strongly associate this song with the year I spent working in a North Austin porn store, but that would've been a couple of years before it was released.

Let me help, the band is called Fastball. They named themselves after a porno.

Pretty sure that's your answer right there.
posted by NMcCoy at 9:26 AM on April 24 [3 favorites]


Thanks for making some of my middle school memories a little more surreal.
posted by warm_planet at 9:46 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


I'd always heard the story as them coming to some kind of violent end, so I'm glad to have the story straight. Not that dementia-induced driving until you run off a cliff is any less tragic. I'm really glad my mother gave up her license now.
posted by immlass at 10:34 AM on April 24


My parents loved this song, and my Dad made it the first song on a CD they used as a driving mix. He knew the story. (My family can have a dark sense of humour.)
posted by joannemerriam at 10:43 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


This is a major song of my youth. One of the first I really noticed on the radio. Always will have a soft spot for it, still think it's catchy.
posted by scose at 11:41 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Before they were married, Lela was a widow and Raymond a widower, and after their death in Arkansas their bodies were buried next to those of their respective first spouses.

I actually find this a little bit weird and disrespectful. I mean in one sense I don't give a crap where I'm buried (I guess I'd rather not be buried at all) but if the burial is going to make a statement about your life (such as, who you're married to) I don't understand why the first marriage takes precedent there.
posted by RustyBrooks at 12:47 PM on April 24


Probably an agreement they made at the beginning of their relationship. My mom and stepdad did the same thing. From a practical standpoint, couples usually buy burial plots together long before either of them die - and then purchase a headstone for two with one side left empty when one is buried.
posted by double bubble at 1:16 PM on April 24 [3 favorites]


Before they were married, Lela was a widow and Raymond a widower, and after their death in Arkansas their bodies were buried next to those of their respective first spouses.

I actually find this a little bit weird and disrespectful. I mean in one sense I don't give a crap where I'm buried (I guess I'd rather not be buried at all) but if the burial is going to make a statement about your life (such as, who you're married to) I don't understand why the first marriage takes precedent there.


We don't know what they had asked for beforehand. While it's possible that a couple of people in their 80s had never discussed their burial plans, I'm willing to believe that it was Lela and Raymond's wishes to have it that way.
posted by Etrigan at 1:17 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]


The lyrics to "The Way," for those interested.
posted by zardoz at 2:30 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Which surprises me, since I was a junior/senior in high school when it was playing every day on MTV and every radio station in the land.

Yes, those were the good old days.

...Actually, just remembered Fastball had a nice song of that name on the same album.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 3:00 PM on April 24


I think the gravestones were likely a double plot. If you look at the photos, one spouse died in the mid 70s and it looks like the other was from 1985 or another "5" year. So they probably had purchased these plots ahead of time and it just made sense to use them. They may have arranged this. Maybe they thought it made more sense for their kids to be able to visit the gravesites and keep the focus on their family, since graves are really for the living.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 3:09 PM on April 24


This song is in my regular set. It's such a crowd pleaser I hate to know that it's not about twenty-somethings getting baked and driving away towards what they hope is a better future.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:38 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


the year I spent working in a North Austin porn store

I would buy this book.
posted by MoxieProxy at 3:50 PM on April 25


the year I spent working in a North Austin porn store

I think that was a Tom T. Hall song.
posted by bongo_x at 4:20 PM on April 25


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