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The Greyhound Bus Song: Meet St. Lenox

st lenox

No matter if you’re searching for adventure or just want to leave heartbreak behind, music and travel are the perfect cure for almost any situation. For decades road trips have inspired musicians to write some of the world’s favorite songs like Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “America,” and St. Lenox has added one more to the list.

We first heard “The Greyhound Bus” song as St. Lenox was gearing up for his upcoming tour and got a chance to sit down with the singer/songwriter to find out what inspired his music.

 

Q: Let’s start by telling our readers a little bit about yourself.

A: Currently, I’m a desk jockey working in midtown Manhattan during the day and writing songs and performing at night and on weekends. Previously I was en route to being a Philosophy professor, but I realized that it wasn’t going to allow me to do the things I wanted to do in life – like live in New York City and pursue music – so I quit as soon as I got my PhD. Before that, I was a concert violinist.

Q: What inspired you to begin writing your own music and performing?

A: I grew up as a classical musician so I was always surrounded by music, but as soon as I got into college I stopped performing. Towards the end of my graduate studies, I realized that I really missed performing, and so I took up singing at karaoke and open-mics. People at the open-mics were writing their own songs so I figured I’d give it a try. It ended up being a really rewarding experience. I have a lot of things I want to say, and sometimes songwriting is the right medium at the right time. Sometimes you need music to help people understand things that they may not understand otherwise. I think realizing that was what motivated me to take it more seriously.

Q: What inspired “The Greyhound Bus Song”?

A: It was a stupid crush I had. I was traveling to Ohio from New York City at the time, and I think travelling is a good time to work out issues. Nobody’s bothering you. You can hear yourself think. I was imagining the protagonist travelling across the South, while the object of his desire gives him some sympathetic travel and sight-seeing tips to help him recuperate.

Q: Since you’re a frequent traveler, you took the approach in the song of the protagonist traveling to help find himself again after a breakup. Why is that?

A: I think for me, a lot of big life changes involved bus travel. I took the bus when I first went to college. That was a really difficult transition for me. This last year, I took the bus to visit my parents in Iowa. I can take Greyhound to within walking distance of my parent’s house in Ames. I usually take the bus when I go back to visit Columbus, Ohio to visit friends. I think there are a lot of people who have taken the bus during some momentous time in their life, and I think it’s a perspective that people can identify with. A lot of the people that I talk to on the bus are people who are going to visit loved ones that they haven’t necessarily seen in a long time. Or they’re making a new life somewhere else. I wanted to tap into that feeling.

Q: How do you view traveling somewhere: as a simple means to an end, or as a part of the entire trip experience?

A: For me it’s a necessary part of the experience. It takes time to adjust to a new place, and if you’re making a big transition, you need the travel time to prepare yourself for when you get there. Maybe you’re going to see a new love, what are you going to say to them when you arrive? Maybe you’re going back for a reunion, how’s that going to turn out? There’s heavy stuff involved in travel, and the act of travelling is there to help you adjust with how you deal with your destination.

Q: Let’s talk about the music video – how did you come up with the idea?

A: I wanted to capture a lot of the aspects of night travel. I oftentimes travel at night because I can sleep on the bus, and when I wake up I’m most of the way to my destination. But in between there are all of these fun stops you get to make. For me I try not to eat fast food too much because I’m trying to be healthy, but a late night hamburger on an overnight trip is just the best. I thought it was important to get little slices of life like that. That footage eating the burger was shot at a bus station, when I was taking Greyhound to Boston and back.

Q: You mentioned that you filmed the scenery shots during an actual trip – why is it?

A: Quite simply I think it’s just very beautiful, and can stand up to being the dominating visual component of the video. The night scenery off the highway in Iowa is just astounding. Separately, as I see it, the protagonist is fixated on the scenery while he’s working out his issues. To understand what he’s experiencing, you have to have the scenery there as the backdrop to his internal dialogue to fully make sense of it.

Q: What do you hope people take away from your music?

A: I hope that people get a larger sense of what music can do, and what kinds of experiences music can give them. I think if you listen to a lot of indie music, you get the sense that indie musicians are wealthy young adults. It’s why so much indie music is about youthful ambition and passionate love, and why so much indie music reads like Young Adult fiction. I think youthful ambition and passionate love are great things, but the world is much bigger than that. My job is to find other experiences off the beaten path, and if I can express them in a way that rings true then people will respond. This song is an oddity in that it’s about an unconventional story line, but it’s one that comes from a sincere place, and one that I think people can identify with. It’s important to have songs like that.

Q: What’s next for St. Lenox?

A: I’m working on recording a new album, tentatively entitled “Ten Songs From My American Gothic” – generally about the American experience in modern times. Or something like that, I have a lot of ideas. There’s actually a song off the new album called “Fuel America” which will be heavily travel-themed – about American ambition and manifest destiny.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

A: I take the Greyhound bus a lot. Usually from New York City to Columbus, Ohio. If you ever see me on the bus, feel free to say hi.

 

We’ve added St. Lenox to our Ultimate Road Trip playlist on Spotify, but you can also get his whole album on iTunes and Amazon now.

 

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