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Song for Today: "Roads to Moscow" by Al Stewart
AlStewart.com ^ | 1973 | Al Stewart

Posted on 03/07/2014 6:25:50 PM PST by WXRGina

"Roads to Moscow" World War II history in the song

Song on You Tube: Roads to Moscow by Al Stewart

Lyric:

They crossed over the border, the hour before dawn Moving in lines through the day
Most of our planes were destroyed on the ground where they lay
Waiting for orders we held in the wood
Word from the front never came
By evening the sound of the gunfire was miles away
Ah, softly we move through the shadows, slip away through the trees
Crossing their lines in the mists in the fields on our hands and on our knees
And all that I ever
Was able to see
The fire in the air glowing red
Silhouetting the smoke on the breeze

All summer they drove us back through the Ukraine
Smolensk and Viasma soon fell
By autumn we stood with our backs to the town of Orel
Closer and closer to Moscow they come
Riding the wind like a bell
General Guderian stands at the crest of the hill
Winter brought with her the rains, oceans of mud filled the roads
Gluing the tracks of their tanks to the ground while the sky filled with snow
And all that I ever
Was able to see
The fire in the air glowing red
Silhouetting the snow on the breeze

In the footsteps of Napoleon the shadow figures stagger through the winter
Falling back before the gates of Moscow, standing in the wings like an avenger
And far away behind their lines the partisans are stirring in the forest
Coming unexpectedly upon their outposts, growing like a promise
You'll never know, you'll never know which way to turn, which way to look you'll never see us
As we're stealing through the blackness of the night
You'll never know, you'll never hear us
And the evening sings in a voice of amber, the dawn is surely coming
The morning roads lead to Stalingrad, and the sky is softly humming

Two broken Tigers on fire in the night
Flicker their souls to the wind
We wait in the lines for the final approach to begin
It's been almost four years that I've carried a gun
At home it will almost be spring
The flames of the Tigers are lighting the road to Berlin
Ah, quickly we move through the ruins that bow to the ground
The old men and children they send out to face us, they can't slow us down
And all that I ever
Was able to see
The eyes of the city are opening
Now it's the end of the dream

I'm coming home, I'm coming home, now you can taste it in the wind, the war is over
And I listen to the clicking of the train-wheels as we roll across the border
And now they ask me of the time that I was caught behind their lines and taken prisoner
"They only held me for a day, a lucky break," I say they turn and listen closer
I'll never know, I'll never know why I was taken from the line and all the others
To board a special train and journey deep into the heart of holy Russia
And it's cold and damp in the transit camp, and the air is still and sullen
And the pale sun of October whispers the snow will soon be coming
And I wonder when I'll be home again and the morning answers "Never"
And the evening sighs, and the steely Russian skies go on forever


TOPICS: History; Music/Entertainment
KEYWORDS: music; songs; ussr; wwii

1 posted on 03/07/2014 6:25:50 PM PST by WXRGina
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To: WXRGina

I listen to this song often. Amazing work across the board. No one knows it. I think it was too long for FM radio in the 1970s, but surely one of the great works of pop music of that decade.


2 posted on 03/07/2014 6:33:21 PM PST by babble-on
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To: WXRGina

Talk about your timely posts!

Great history, lyrics, and imagery. I’ve probably listened to this a couple hundred times, and the ending chills me every time...


3 posted on 03/07/2014 6:39:22 PM PST by Paul R. (Leftists desire to control everything; In the end they invariably control nothing worth a damn.)
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To: babble-on; Paul R.

Yes, this is a chilling gem. Not many people know it. We also listen to this one over and over again.

Those who don’t know history... you know.

But, hey! Bravo to Al Stewart for his immense research in creating this masterpiece!


4 posted on 03/07/2014 6:43:17 PM PST by WXRGina (The Founding Fathers would be shooting by now.)
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To: WXRGina

Al Stewart sings about the Eastern Front in WWII and the Gulag, Hitler’s 1934 purge of the Storm Troopers (”The Last Day of June, 1934”), Basque terrorism (”On the Border”), etc.—not the normal subjects of rock and roll songs.


5 posted on 03/07/2014 6:43:30 PM PST by Fiji Hill
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To: WXRGina

This is not a song for low-information types.


6 posted on 03/07/2014 6:44:30 PM PST by Fiji Hill
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To: WXRGina

I’ve heard the claim that this is essentially the tale of Alexander Solzhenitsyn during the war.


7 posted on 03/07/2014 6:46:34 PM PST by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: Fiji Hill
This is not a song for low-information types.

HAHAHAHAHA!!! Yes, you're right! You made me laugh. :-)

8 posted on 03/07/2014 6:47:30 PM PST by WXRGina (The Founding Fathers would be shooting by now.)
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To: DuncanWaring

Yes, that may be. The top link above is from Al Stewart’s site, and he breaks down the lyric with historical explanation. Good stuff! (well, not really “good,” but you know what I mean)


9 posted on 03/07/2014 6:48:54 PM PST by WXRGina (The Founding Fathers would be shooting by now.)
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To: babble-on

“running like a water color in the rain”

Year of the cat

guy could write some songs...


10 posted on 03/07/2014 8:03:15 PM PST by crabpott (' we are living in the strangest, most perilous, and unbelievable decade in modern memory' VDH)
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To: crabpott

“Year of the Cat” is one of my all-time favorites (how could it NOT be?).


11 posted on 03/07/2014 8:46:51 PM PST by WXRGina (The Founding Fathers would be shooting by now.)
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To: WXRGina

IMO, one of the best songs ever written yet not much commercial appeal. It’s almost eight hours long with amazing high and low notes that you can truly enjoy in a full stereo mode. A true masterpiece.

The main character in the song fights for dear mother Russia in WWII only to have been briefly captured by the Nazis and, because his life is disposable to the Kremlin and he might possibly have been converted to a spy, the rest of his life is spent in a cold, soulless gulag with other prisoners. He really doesn’t understand what his country has done to him.


12 posted on 03/07/2014 9:24:23 PM PST by OrangeHoof (2001-2008: "Dissent Is Patriotism!" 2009-2016: "Dissent Is Racism!")
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To: OrangeHoof

Oops. Eight minutes long, not hours. For the main character, it probably seemed like eight years.


13 posted on 03/07/2014 9:26:19 PM PST by OrangeHoof (2001-2008: "Dissent Is Patriotism!" 2009-2016: "Dissent Is Racism!")
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To: WXRGina
“Year of the Cat” is one of my all-time favorites (how could it NOT be?).

IMHO as great as Year of the Cat is, I like Time Passages even more.

14 posted on 03/07/2014 9:28:06 PM PST by dfwgator
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To: OrangeHoof

Yes, it’s an intense, under-appreciated masterpiece, and heart-wrenching in the end. It’s sickening to imagine the song’s character’s fate, the faithful soldier betrayed by his country.


15 posted on 03/07/2014 9:29:46 PM PST by WXRGina (The Founding Fathers would be shooting by now.)
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To: OrangeHoof

I knew what you meant. :-)


16 posted on 03/07/2014 9:30:15 PM PST by WXRGina (The Founding Fathers would be shooting by now.)
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To: dfwgator
IMHO as great as Year of the Cat is, I like Time Passages even more.

Yes, it's a "sibling" song and just as good.

17 posted on 03/07/2014 9:31:18 PM PST by WXRGina (The Founding Fathers would be shooting by now.)
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To: dfwgator

“Time Passages”....I’m with you dfwg.


18 posted on 03/07/2014 9:32:07 PM PST by hoagy62 ("Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered..."-Thomas Paine. 1776)
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To: WXRGina

I love this song; it’s so haunting.


19 posted on 03/07/2014 10:20:34 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: Fiji Hill

I also love “On The Border”! Lovely guitar work in that one!


20 posted on 03/07/2014 10:23:29 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: dfwgator

I loved that song Time Passages.

It was late in December, the sky turned to snow
All round the day was going down slow
Night like a river beginning to flow
I felt the beat of my mind go
Drifting into time passages
Years go falling in the fading light
Time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight
Well I’m not the kind to live in the past
The years run too short and the days too fast
The things you lean on are the things that don’t last
Well it’s just now and then my line gets cast into these
Time passages
There’s something back here that you left behind
Oh time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight

Hear the echoes and feel yourself starting to turn
Don’t know why you should feel
That there’s something to learn
It’s just a game that you play

Well the picture is changing
Now you’re part of a crowd
They’re laughing at something
And the music’s loud
A girl comes towards you
You once used to know
You reach out your hand
But you’re all alone, in these
Time passages
I know you’re in there, you’re just out of sight
Time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight


21 posted on 03/07/2014 11:10:07 PM PST by RitchieAprile
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To: alstewartfan

FYI


22 posted on 03/07/2014 11:10:22 PM PST by Captainpaintball
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To: Fiji Hill

Also not the normal subject of rock-and-roll songs - Iron Maiden’s “Paschendaele”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mML4xirKTu8


23 posted on 03/08/2014 5:16:05 AM PST by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: DuncanWaring

The video that goes along with the music is certainly appropriate. Interestingly, they pronounce Passchendaele “passion dale,” which sounds like the title of a soap opera.


24 posted on 03/08/2014 6:00:34 AM PST by Fiji Hill
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To: SuziQ

Haunting is the EXACT word!


25 posted on 03/08/2014 6:51:22 AM PST by WXRGina (The Founding Fathers would be shooting by now.)
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To: WXRGina

ping


26 posted on 03/08/2014 6:52:20 AM PST by WXRGina (The Founding Fathers would be shooting by now.)
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To: Captainpaintball

How kind of you to send this thread to me, Captain!!! I am gratified to see that there are so many FReepers who know this song, one of the greatest songs ever written. Two more suggestions for casual fans: Somewhere in England 1915 and Trains. Both are long songs, but at the end, listeners will be blown away. Thanks again so much!!!! Bob


27 posted on 03/08/2014 8:02:08 AM PST by alstewartfan (Two broken Tigers on fire in the night Flicking their souls to the wind. From RTMoscow by Al Stewart)
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To: RitchieAprile

Although I don’t doubt Stewart is sincere in his song poetry, I used to revise the song simply by replacing “Time Passages” with “Drug Ref’rences” and enjoy the alternate meaning.

“I know you’re in there, you’re just out of sight.”


28 posted on 03/08/2014 8:27:52 AM PST by OrangeHoof (2001-2008: "Dissent Is Patriotism!" 2009-2016: "Dissent Is Racism!")
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To: alstewartfan

Shoot! I should’ve remembered you when I posted this. I know I’ve seen you before! I’m glad he pinged you to this thread anyway.


29 posted on 03/08/2014 5:55:26 PM PST by WXRGina (The Founding Fathers would be shooting by now.)
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To: WXRGina

You aren’t the “Gina” in the King’s Road, by any chance? That’s another Al song, a very good rocker from 2005. Thanks for your thoughts! Bob


30 posted on 03/09/2014 1:05:34 PM PDT by alstewartfan (Two broken Tigers on fire in the night Flicking their souls to the wind. From RTMoscow by Al Stewart)
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To: alstewartfan

HA! Well, I’m not blonde, but I was born in 1967, which is close to ‘68, even though THAT Gina was kickin’ men’s rears in 1968 when I was only a baby. :-)

Thanks, Bob! I hadn’t heard “Gina in the King’s Road” before. Yet ANOTHER in the rare few songs with my name in the title.


31 posted on 03/09/2014 2:01:50 PM PDT by WXRGina (The Founding Fathers would be shooting by now.)
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To: WXRGina

I am glad that you enjoyed this song about Al’s “naugahyde affair”. Al explained at a recent show that Gina is a composite from his early days, but she is the kind of gal who is so mesmerising that one becomes “almost sincere” while trying to make love with her. Interestingly, Al captures Gina’s own angst with his line “She’s wrapped around some stranger Hanging on for life.” BTW, the song sounds twice as good on the actual CD. At least, compared to MY computer sound system. Blessings, Bob


32 posted on 03/09/2014 5:37:45 PM PDT by alstewartfan (Two broken Tigers on fire in the night Flicking their souls to the wind. From RTMoscow by Al Stewart)
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To: WXRGina
Mine too. The complexity of the arrangement is brilliant and I never tire of the song. The more I listen to it, the more I appreciate it. :-)
33 posted on 03/09/2014 5:41:25 PM PDT by liberalh8ter (The only difference between flash mob 'urban yutes' and U.S. politicians is the hoodies.)
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To: alstewartfan

I caught all those lines—the naugahyde, her hanging on, and I could sense her desperation. He’s an excellent writer.

If only it was on vinyl! :-) We still play records sometimes. Good sound, a record! I know some prefer digital, though.


34 posted on 03/09/2014 6:02:56 PM PDT by WXRGina (The Founding Fathers would be shooting by now.)
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To: liberalh8ter

Me, too! We listened to it several times in just the past two evenings along with “Roads.” While it’s not as haunting as “Roads to Moscow,” it has its own haunting quality, a very rich song with a very rich lyric.


35 posted on 03/09/2014 6:05:20 PM PDT by WXRGina (The Founding Fathers would be shooting by now.)
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To: WXRGina
Incredible song - brutal 12-string work. One of the backing vocalists was from Queen.

Two broken Tigers on fire in the night
Flicker their souls to the wind
We wait in the lines for the final approach to begin.

Stewart got the story from Solzhenitsyn.

36 posted on 03/09/2014 6:11:54 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Billthedrill
Stewart got the story from Solzhenitsyn.

Yes, that's what others have said. His history with the song is in the top link above, from his website.

37 posted on 03/09/2014 6:32:59 PM PDT by WXRGina (The Founding Fathers would be shooting by now.)
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To: WXRGina

Roads to Moscow was inspired by “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Solzhenitsyn. Al claims to have read about 50 WWII history books before writing the song. Al’s Between the Wars from 1995 is my favorite record of all time. Stylistically, the entire record, except “Sampan”, sounds as if it was written during the 20’s and 30’s. It is a masterpiece, much as RtM is. Bob


38 posted on 03/10/2014 1:40:57 PM PDT by alstewartfan (Two broken Tigers on fire in the night Flicking their souls to the wind. From RTMoscow by Al Stewart)
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To: alstewartfan

BTW, Sampan contains one of my favorite Al Stewart lines: “Sea and sky Come together in a hazy kiss upon the ocean Europe seems a foreign notion Hardly thought of.”
While I’m at it, Al’s line from a New Years Eve celebration from same album: “Uncork your spirits and welcome it in. Who knows what it’s got up its sleeve? Can’t wait for it all to begin...She’s laughing, laughing into 1939.”
Pithy stuff, methinks. Bob


39 posted on 03/10/2014 1:54:14 PM PDT by alstewartfan (Two broken Tigers on fire in the night Flicker their souls to the wind. From RTMoscow by Al Stewart)
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To: WXRGina

Gina, I seem to remember that there may have been a 50’s song with a “Gina” in it, and maybe an Elton song too. Bob


40 posted on 03/10/2014 1:56:55 PM PDT by alstewartfan (Two broken Tigers on fire in the night Flicker their souls to the wind. From RTMoscow by Al Stewart)
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To: alstewartfan
Bob, it was Johnny Mathis' "Gina" from 1962. I don't know of one by Elton John. I know of a few other, more contemporary ones--not many, though! :-)
41 posted on 03/10/2014 4:19:22 PM PDT by WXRGina (The Founding Fathers would be shooting by now.)
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To: alstewartfan

PS: I need to read some Solzhenitsyn. I’m terribly unversed in his works!


42 posted on 03/10/2014 4:20:43 PM PDT by WXRGina (The Founding Fathers would be shooting by now.)
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To: WXRGina

Thanks to my prof assigning me Solzhenitsyn as a naive freshman in college, I was sobered, and could never again fall for Communist propaganda. I can pick the Clintons and Obamas as Marxists before they finish two sentences, just by their phraseology. BTW, I recommend Denisovich, b/c it’s short and subtly at times, and overtly at others, horrifying. His Gulag books are great, but a long and slow slog. Blessings, Bob


43 posted on 03/10/2014 4:53:32 PM PDT by alstewartfan (Two broken Tigers on fire in the night Flicker their souls to the wind. From RTMoscow by Al Stewart)
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To: alstewartfan

Thank you, Bob!


44 posted on 03/10/2014 5:48:55 PM PDT by WXRGina (The Founding Fathers would be shooting by now.)
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