So many road anthems pave the history of popular music. Some make poetry of the white lines on the freeway; others floridly celebrate rock and roll fugitives riding the arena circuit on their steel mounts. "Pardon Me," one of the loveliest tracks on the inexhaustibly fun, Americana Award-winning Mavericks album Mono, casts a more contemplative eye on the moving panorama the touring musician claims, acknowledging the melancholy that floats beneath the traveler's experience of constant novelty. Blending the elegance of early 1970s Nashville songwriting with just a hint of the emotionalism of Latin soul, "Pardon Me" is the heart song of a grown man coming to terms with the choices that both enrich and fragment his life.
The video, filmed in New Orleans by Ray Lewis, finds Raul Malo reclined in his well-appointed hotel room (these guys have clearly racked up some Starwood points), strumming his guitar and gazing at the Mississippi, that longest of American thoroughfares. An eerily empty French Quarter eventually fills up with revelers. The other Mavericks make their way into a bar, toward new friends and future hangovers. Contrasting scenes show a young boy at home and lonely, drawing pictures – the symbol of the home life these itinerant entertainers have left behind. Then the boy himself breaks free, running in an open field, perhaps preparing for a road life of his own. "I wouldn't change a single thing, as crazy as it seems," Malo cries, before dipping into a murmur, "Tonight if I should fall apart, pardon me." As the song fades out and the sun sets over that restless river, the song's message reverberates: even the hardiest road dog has his day.
Mono is out now on Valory Music/Big Machine.