“Mona Lisa must have had the highway blues, you can tell by the way she smiles… ” sings Bob Dylan, and I know exactly what he means. Since I’ve been back from my trip there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t have to fight the urge to pack my bags and leave again. The call of the open road seduces me. It promises a complete escape from life’s daily struggles and responsibilities. It grants absolute freedom and anonymity. On the road there are no worries about what people think or expect. There’s no future – or past – no family or friends. Nothing exists anymore except the moment.
For three months during the summer of 2001 I wandered America. Alone and free. Wandering and searching for quiet moments to photograph that reflected my own mood. Meeting and photographing people in the most public places of the country – in the streets – at parades – in public parks – at barber shops and beauty salons – in bus stations and on buses.
This is my country – my people. All across this land I found the same sad sweet song that echoes in my own soul. The sadness – the loneliness – the silliness of it all. Why are we here? What are we doing to help each other? What’s the point?
I found beauty and joy too. There’s such pride and perseverance in the American spirit. There is a reckless idealism and confidence which – though often so absurd it is laughable – somehow manages to reassure and inspire me to maintain my own faith and determination.
So this little book is my attempt to sing the same song in my own voice – through my own experience – to resonate those lyrics that have been sung by countless artists, poets and songwriters who have come before me. And all I am really trying to say is that I am America. And in my own cynical, desperate way, I love this country.