Words by Dewey Bunnel of America

Chewing on a piece of grass
Walking down the road
Tell me, how long you gonna stay here, Joe?
Some people say this town don't look good in snow
You don't care, I know

Ventura Highway in the sunshine
Where the days are longer
The nights are stronger than moonshine
You're gonna go I know

'Cause the free wind is blowin' through your hair
And the days surround your daylight there
Seasons crying no despair
Alligator lizards in the air, in the air

Did di di di dit ...

Wishin' on a falling star
Waitin' for the early train
Sorry boy, but I've been hit by purple rain
Aw, come on, Joe, you can always
Change your name
Thanks a lot, son, just the same

Ventura Highway in the sunshine
Where the days are longer
The nights are stronger than moonshine
You're gonna go I know

'Cause the free wind is blowin' through your hair
And the days surround your daylight there
Seasons crying no despair
Alligator lizards in the air, in the air

Did di di di dit ...


Originally appearing as the lead track on Homecoming, the song "Ventura Highway" became one of the signature songs for the group America (reaching #8 on the charts). The song itself tells of Dewey and his time living in Omaha in his youth - "chewing on a piece of grass". The winters in Omaha were brutal - "this town don't look good in snow" and he would dream of California and wonder how much longer he was going to stay in Omaha. The city that most attracted his attention was the 'mythical' city of Ventura, California which sits along the coast a bit south east of Santa Barbara and north west of Los Angeles. If any thing is to be "Ventura Highway", it would be US 101 which runs right along the coast through Ventura. It turns out that between 1955 and 1974 (the song was written in 1972) the "Ventura Highway" (or freeway) was a real name for the segment of what is now US 101 that went from route 134 to the northern end of Ventura County.

So, we come to Ventura, CA - where "the days are longer and the nights are stronger than moonshine". Actually, it is true that the days (in the winter) are longer in Ventura, than in Omaha. Today (August 5, 2002), the length of the day in Ventura, California is 13:49 with sunrise at 6:09 and sunset at 7:58. While Omaha, Nebraska is has daylight for 14:17 with sunrise at 6:22 and sunset at 8:39. The reason for this that Ventura is further south. In summer, the further north, the longer the day (flip this around for the southern hemisphere). This is seen in the extreme at the Artic circle where during summer months there is sun all day long. In the winter, the closer to the equator, the longer the day.

The phrase "The nights are stronger than moonshine" is a play on words. The first is the astronomical version where "moon shine" refers to light reflected off the moon from the sun. There is also earth shine, where light is reflected off the daytime side of the earth and hits the moon and is visible on the night time side of the earth (thus allowing the viewer to see the full disk of the moon, though part of it is much dimmer than the other. The other reading of the phrase "moonshine" refers to distilled spirits (most often corn whiskey) that was created illegally (most often at night with the only light being that of the moon). Moonshine is very strong.

The alligator lizard is actually a real group of lizards (total of 67 distinct species). The alligator lizards native to North America range from Canada to Centra America. These small lizards do not fly. They are most often found in foothills and mountains but also range to the grassland. Their typical habitat is under blown down trees and rocky crevices.

Westbound from Chicago and stopping in Omaha, Nebraska at 11:45 PM the The California Zephyr train takes you to San Francisco, while the Southwest Chief (also leaving from Chicago) and getting into Kansas City, MO (need to take a bus over there) will take you to Los Angeles.

Having been hit by 'purple rain' predates the other mentions of this phrase in popular culture (the song by prince was recorded in 1984 - 12 year after Ventura Highway). My mind draws a blank for references at that time to purple rain (I was naught but a sparkle in the eye in 1972). The possibility for "what is purple rain" leads me to consider the possibility of wanderlust, to a rain from a fantasy place (as much as California is to Nebraska).

Changing your name can be done in two different ways. The 'easiest' is just to choose a new name and use it. The other is to go through a formal court process. There are some restrictions upon a name change

  • fraudulent intent (avoid bankruptcy or become someone else)
  • mess with a trademark
  • use numbers or symbols to confuse people (though, you can add Roman numerals to the end of the name to sound more pretentious) The artist who formally was known as Prince and recorded "Purple Rain" legally couldn't do that.
  • use vulgar or violent words or a racial slur. The names James Bond's companions were nicknames - not legal names.
  • Minors need a court decision (the most common occurance for this is with the divorce of parents and the child wishes to join his or her mother by using her maiden name)
Much, much more about name change can be found at: http://www.soyouwanna.com/site/syws/changename/changename.html

The song can be found on the following albums:


http://www.biscuitfan.com/america/song/song013.htm
http://www.reptilemall.com/caresheets/gerrhont.html
http://www.staronline.com/vcs/national/article/0,1375,VCS_123_1239216,00.html
http://calzephyr.railfan.net/
http://www.soyouwanna.com/site/syws/changename/changename.html
http://www.amtrack.com/

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.