A few months ago, Lady Gaga unveiled a new song called "You and I" that has been making regular appearances on stops on the multi-platinum singer's Monster Ball tour. On Monday night (August 30), Gaga unleashed another new composition. This one is called "Living on the Radio," and much like "You and I," it's a mostly piano-based shuffle with the same sort of '70s Elton John vibe. Lyrically, however, Gaga seems to be covering a very well-trod road in American music.
"Living on the Radio" is Gaga's road song — the tune the expresses the highs and lows of living out of a suitcase (or in Gaga's case, out of a dozen or so tractor trailers) and engaging in a series of all-too-brief relationships with fans and friends while traveling the world. "Baby, you've got a friend/ And so many little monsters/ Keep living on the radio," she sings in the tune, suggesting that the comfort of hearing your songs played for the masses trumps the inherent loneliness of the road. "And when there's nowhere to go/ And all your friends are gone/ And you've only got your daddy to call/ You're gonna be all right, honey/ Because your songs are on the radio."
Gaga's latest tune joins the legendary tunes below among the great American road songs.
Bob Seger, "Turn the Page"
Seger's view of the road is pretty dire — it's all exhaustion and anonymous highways and empty roadside restaurants. It's so dark, in fact, that it was fit enough for Metallica to cover.
Mötörhead, "(We Are) The Road Crew"
Accompanied by Lemmy's savage growl and his band's buzzsaw dynamism, this tale of working on rock tours is told from the perspective of roadies. It's as bipolar as they come, with another drive, another party and another faceless crowd always around the corner.
Jawbreaker, "Tour Song"
Another dystopian view of the life of a band, with a broken down van and shady club owners at the forefront.
They say distance makes the heart grow fonder, which may be true in the case of this song, one of Journey's biggest hits. The narrative is all about being on tour and thinking of a loved one, waiting for the work to end and the trip home can begin.
The Who, "Postcard"
One of the Who's more obscure tracks is also one of the truest stories about road life. The general boredom and ennui expressed is palpable, but also accurate to life on the road. Because while touring is about bringing your work to exotic places, it's also about lying around anonymous hotel rooms trying to find time to call home.