Making Americayana: Got to Go

After figuring out how my hero was born, the next episode in the story that I wanted to tackle was his exile. In many versions of the Ramayana (IMVOTR), Rama is exiled to the forest for fourteen years by his father at the request of one of his father’s other wives, who wants the throne for her own son, Rama’s brother. His wife and some combination of his brothers vow to follow him into the forest, and they have many adventures while traveling across India.

While trying to figure out why my hero would have to leave the family that had sacrificed so much to get him and head “out on the road” as I had already decided in “Burn So Bright,” I started thinking about how IMVOTR, Rama’s divine nature is unclear to the people around him (and sometimes even to himself). How unnerving it must be, I thought, to grow up around someone who just might be a god.

That in turn made me think of the HBO series Carnivale, about a young man who discovers he can bring the dead back to life; shunned by his family for possessing these unnatural powers, he joins a traveling circus troupe (the series was unfortunately canceled before revealing the true nature of the struggle between the hero and his apparently evil counterpart, a charismatic preacher). Why not combine aspects of both of those characters, I thought, and have my hero exiled by a community suspicious of the glimpses of uncanny powers that even he does not understand, and forced to make his living traveling the land as a preacher? Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger definitely had some influence in this idea as well.

Musically, “Got to Go” is pretty straight-up rockabilly — there’s a lot of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” in its DNA, especially in the lead guitar line. One slightly unusual aspect of the music is the percussion, which is made up largely of looped claps and table drumming; at this stage in the project I still had the idea that I was not going to use any software percussion, but rather just create loops of percussion I could do on my own. That idea didn’t stick, but it’s mostly in effect here. I’m also pretty happy with the distortion on the vocals and the harmonica, both of which were done through a Green Bullet microphone run through my guitar amp, in a nod to Little Walter.

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