Performer: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Songwriter: David Crosby
Original Release: If Only I Could Remember My Name
Definitive Version: Four Way Street (remastered), 1992
When the remastered and extended Four Way Street came out, I was in the midst of a major CSNY resurgence that was ignited by the release of the CSN box set the previous year as well as Weld by Neil Young.
It was about at this time that I got a letter out of the blue from Matt, my Wabash roommate my senior year. I hadn’t heard from him in a while—and hadn’t seen him in a longer time—when I got the notice of his pending ordination as a minister. I knew that he had gone to Duke’s divinity school, but I knew nothing further.
Well, why else would he send me a notice unless it were an invite, right? I called Matt and told him I would be coming down. Matt was taken aback. That was just an FYI notice; you don’t have to come. Oh, well, I’ve already asked for the time off …
He was delighted to hear I’d be making the trek and insisted that I stayed with him and his wife for the weekend. I gladly accepted the free room and board. He was living East of the Raleigh-Durham triangle in a small town that I’ve since forgotten. I still was in I’d-rather-drive mode, so my transportation was set.
I figured it would be a two-day trip. I’d get up early on Friday after work and drive to Virginia that day and then to North Carolina Saturday and arrive sometime in the afternoon before dinner. The ceremony was Sunday (duh), and I’d head back Monday.
Friday was an overcast day, and I still have a clear memory of driving through Columbus while it was raining just enough for me to start the windshield wipers. I remember feeling that driving through Columbus, like I would other cities, without stopping to see my family or friends was a weird sensation. I was connected to the city but removed from it at the same time. At once, it was and wasn’t home.
Anyway, although Flint to Columbus is a fairly straight shot, getting to North Carolina from there is not. My choice was essentially drive all the way over to Pittsburgh and then head south on I-77 from there or take the direct route, which would be U.S. 35 to Charleston W.Va., and pick up I-77 there.
I chose the latter option, because I was somewhat familiar with it, but 35 is mostly a two-lane stop-and-go highway through small towns. It’s an interesting drive, but it doesn’t make for a quick journey, and by the time I got to Charleston, it was well after dark.
Not that this was unexpected. I figured I’d arrive in Virginia about midnight, and I was on schedule. However, I had been driving now about eight hours without stop save for gas and a burger, and this was after working the vampire shift the night before at the Journal and getting my usual three hours sleep on a getaway day. This was the first time I had really driven a long distance after that quick of a turnaround, and by the time I merged with the freeway, I was fading fast.
I blasted my music (and it wasn’t this solo acoustic tune) and even rolled down the window to let the cold March air blow on my face to keep me alert. However, when I passed a semi going down the back side of the Smokeys doing 75 and realized that I couldn’t remember making the pass because I had nodded off, that’s when I threw in the towel and pulled off at the next exit that had lodging.
I was about two hours short of my goal, so I’d have to get up that much earlier in the morning to account for the extra Saturday driving time. But that beats driving off the side of the road into a mountain, don’t you think?