To visit Martin's writing website, press here.



To visit Martin's songwriting website, press here.


September 4, 2011

Walk Away Towards


Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature's darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature's sources never fail.  John Muir


I took a tiny music player on my PCT section hike this summer. Very few people were on the trail. I went several days without seeing another human, which was nice. I’d just spent a week at a big meeting (more later). The other hikers I met were friendly and spaced out on what we were doing and where. No one had much to say. One thru-hiker guy, giddy after his first 30-miler, just spread his arms, “Isn’t all this just … the greatest?!”

Why would you want to be anywhere else? When I got back to Tracy, I had no phone, no television, no computer, no radio, and I was alone in the house for several days. It wasn’t the liberating solitude but claustrophobic and weird: reading books, eating ice cream and checking the clock; it was okay but wrong. I wanted to be back up there in the higher altitudes.

My feet needed a break, but my spirit was still flying. I was proud of myself, something that doesn’t happen all the time. I liked myself, something I wish would happen more often.

You want ecstasy? I know where you can get some. Hard work but huge rewards that last. Not so hard that I should see only a handful of people in 10 days. Where were you?

Here are two of the songs that I listened to over and over, walking tunes. At the beginning of the trip, I was more into the long bluesy tone of the Dylan song, but as days went by the Greg Brown elation took over as the dominant feeling, the yahoo off the mountaintop. Anyhow, two great songs from Further In and Modern Times. Listen.

Two Little Feet  Greg Brown

Two little feet to get me 'cross the mountain
Two little feet to carry me away into the woods
Two little feet, big mountain, and a
Cloud comin' down, cloud comin' down, cloud comin' down.

I hear the voice of the ancient ones
Chanting magic words from a different time
Well there is no time, there is only this rain
There is no time, that's why I missed my plane.

John Muir walked away into the mountains
In his old overcoat a crust of bread in his pocket
We have no knowledge and so we have stuff and
Stuff with no knowledge is never enough to get you there
It just won't get you there.

A culture exploded into knickknacks and memories
Eagle and Bear trinkets, I don't think it's good
Old man what am I trying to say it's a
It's a messed up world but I love it anyway.

Two little feet to get me 'cross the city
My little hand to knock upon your door
My little thing for your little thing
And a big love to lift us up once more to the mountain
Lift us up.

Tumble us like scree let us holler out our freedom like a
Like a wolf across a valley like a kid lost in a game
No time no name gonna miss that plane again
And I'm gonna stay here with you baby and kiss you to a good dream
I'm goin' kiss you
Kiss you like you like it.

I got two little feet to get me across the mountain
Two little feet to carry me away into the woods
Two little feet big mountain and a
Cloud comin' down, cloud comin' down, cloud comin' down.


Ain't Talkin'  Bob Dylan

As I walked out tonight in the mystic garden
The wounded flowers were dangling from the vine
I was passing by yon cool crystal fountain
Someone hit me from behind.

Ain't talking, just walking
Through this weary world of woe
Heart burning, still yearning
No one on earth would ever know.

They say prayer has the power to heal
So pray for me, mother
In the human heart an evil spirit can dwell
I am trying to love my neighbor and do good unto others
But oh, mother, things ain't going well.

Ain't talking, just walking
I'll burn that bridge before you can cross
Heart burning, still yearning
There'll be no mercy for you once you've lost.

Now I'm all worn down by weeping
My eyes are filled with tears, my lips are dry
If I catch my opponents ever sleeping
I'll just slaughter them where they lie.

Ain't talking, just walking
Through the world mysterious and vague
Heart burning, still yearning
Walking through the cities of the plague.

Well, the whole world is filled with speculation
The whole wide world which people say is round
They will tear your mind away from contemplation
They will jump on your misfortune when you're down.

Ain't talking, just walking
Eating hog eyed grease in a hog eyed town.
Heart burning, still yearning
Some day you'll be glad to have me around.

They will crush you with wealth and power
Every waking moment you could crack
I'll make the most of one last extra hour
I'll revenge my father's death then I'll step back.

Ain't talking, just walking
Hand me down my walking cane.
Heart burning, still yearning
Got to get you out of my miserable brain.

All my loyal and my much-loved companions
They approve of me and share my code
I practice a faith that's been long abandoned
Ain't no altars on this long and lonesome road.

Ain't talking, just walking
My mule is sick, my horse is blind.
Heart burning, still yearning
Thinking about that girl I left behind.

Well, it's bright in the heavens and the wheels are flying
Fame and honor never seem to fade
The fire gone out but the light is never dying
Who says I can't get heavenly aid?

Ain't talking, just walking
Carrying a dead man's shield
Heart burning, still yearning
Walking with a toothache in my heel.

The suffering is unending
Every nook and cranny has its tears
I'm not playing, I'm not pretending
I'm not nursing any superfluous fears.

Ain't talking, just walking
Walking ever since the other night.
Heart burning, still yearning
Walking until I'm clean out of sight.

As I walked out in the mystic garden
On a hot summer day, a hot summer lawn
Excuse me, ma'am, I beg your pardon
There's no one here, the gardener is gone.

Ain't talking, just walking
Up the road, around the bend.
Heart burning, still yearning
In the last outback at the world's end.


“It’s a messed up world, but I love it anyway.”

Happy trials, Martin


Mutt:  Pressure’s on after a season off.
Jeff:  You mean we have to be funny again?
Mutt:  Again?
Jeff:  Okay, remember the time we were at the theme park. It was an extremely windy day, and the area sweeper (you know, the person with the small dustpan and broom you see in parks sweeping up the litter) was that small woman, Mary Lou (4'10", 90 pounds), who joked that she would have to put rocks in her shoes when she went outside to work.
Mutt:  Yeah, she used to say, “Now I weigh me down to sweep.”
Jeff:  Was that the same pert and perceptive young lady whose boyfriend is currently prospecting for oil somewhere in the Middle East?
Mutt:  The very same.
Jeff:  I heard she sent him a 'Get Well' card.
Mutt: And did you hear about the constipated composer?
Jeff:  Yeah. He couldn't finish the last movement.
Mutt:  Question: If you dream in vivid colors, is that a pigment of your imagination?
Jeff:  So what happens when you play country music backwards?
Mutt:  I know this, I know this. You get your wife back, you get your house back, you get your job back, you get your car back, etc.
Jeff:  Did you hear about the optometrist who fell into a lens grinder and made a spectacle of himself?
Mutt:  You know, my friend, I’m exhausted from doing nothing.
Jeff:  Me too. I get enough exercise just by pushing my luck.

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