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The Story Behind “The Way”

I hope it is ok to post this here. I realize it is an old story, but some may not know it...

This is true story that inspired Fastball’s song, The Way

]Story of the Couple Who Inspired “The Way”

It occurred to me that the page could disappear someday, so I've copied and pasted it here:

Memoir in a Melody: The Tragic Disappearance Behind Fastball’s ‘The Way’

By Matt Staggs

April 23, 2014

If you were anywhere near a radio in 1998, you probably heard "The Way," a jangling, Latin-influenced ballad by Austin rock act Fastball. It was the band’s first big hit, and managed to hold the number one spot on the Billboard Modern Rock chart for almost two months.

"The Way" is an incredibly catchy tune, but there’s something a little spooky about it too. The song’s lyrics -- about an elderly couple who disappears from their home, finding immortality on the road -- seem sweet. That is, until "shadows" on the highway are referenced. The promises that the unnamed couple will never go home, grow old, or be hungry again seem a great deal less reassuring. Perhaps, the listener thinks, the "immortality" they found on the open road is purely allegorical.

Fastball lead singer Tony Scalzo said that he wrote "The Way" in 1997 after reading an article in The Austin American-Statesman about Lela and Raymond Howard, an elderly couple who disappeared on June 29 after leaving their Salado, Texas home to attend an event fifteen miles away in Temple.

The article, "Elderly Salado Couple Missing On a Trip To Nowhere," appeared in the July 2nd issue of the paper and was written by Denise Gamino, a former reporter now employed as a freelance writer. She remembers the Howard case well.

Gamino had been assigned to the state desk during her time with the paper, and said that her colleagues preferred to cover politics, a topic that she had grown tired of after working for many years as a correspondent in DC. When an editor came looking for someone to cover the Howard story, she volunteered.

"I always sought out stories about people no one had ever heard of," said Gamino. "My journalism philosophy was ‘blessed are the nobodies, for theirs is the kingdom of fascinating stories.’"

When Gamino interviewed the family she learned that Lela and Raymond were both in their eighties and had medical conditions that left them prone to confusion. They had apparently made it to Temple, where they were spotted getting coffee at the local WalMart. After that, they disappeared. The Bell County Sheriff’s Office was notified when the Howards didn’t return home that afternoon as expected, and a missing persons bulletin was issued that day.

Their family had no way of knowing it, but by Saturday night the Howards were already 500 miles away in rural Arkansas. The wayward couple was pulled over once for driving without their headlights in Logan County, and then 45 minutes later in nearby Yell County for driving with their high beams on. Neither of the deputies who pulled them over were aware that they were missing, and wouldn’t know until Monday. By that time, the Howards were long gone.

Scalzo said that Gamino’s first article was a starting point for his own version of the story. His would be a happier one, in which the Howards find their youth again and live forever on the open road. Once he had the idea, it didn't take very long to write and record the song.

"I wrote 'The Way' in a couple of hours. It was a working demo similar to what you hear in the recording by the end of the day," said Scalzo. "It did not fit with Fastball's catalog by then. Most of the stuff we were doing was straight Modern Rock/Power Pop. I was just trying to do something a little different, but not very."

While Scalzo and his bandmates were working on "The Way," the search for the Howards had spread out to include much of the southeastern United States. Helicopters flew over the rough terrain of Arkansas to search for any sign of the couple, while relatives and volunteers combed back roads, woods, and ravines. The Howards had some family that lived near Hot Springs, and some held out hope that they might be making their way there, or would be found in the area, lost but unharmed.

Gamino continued her own investigative efforts, tracing their journey in Arkansas best she could and interviewing family members and law enforcement by phone and in person. At one point, she arranged to visit the Howards’ home to look for clues.

She described what she found there as "eerie." The television was unplugged and clothing laid out on the couple’s bed as if the Howards had been in the middle of planning a long trip and abruptly left. Their hearing aids and toiletries had been left in the bathroom, though.

The more she looked, the more it seemed that the Howards had been suffering from more confusion and forgetfulness than their family had been aware. Gamino left their home with more questions than answers.

“If they had planned a trip, why did they leave behind some essentials and not tell their son, who lived next door? This was July but the wall calendar in the kitchen was still turned to the page for February," she said. "The Howards were in their 80s and both had been exhibiting cognitive impairments, so the scene in the house didn't seem to bode well. When I found out the cat they left behind was named 'Happy,' the melancholy spoke for itself."

The search for the Howards came to an end on Saturday, July 12 when hikers discovered the crumpled remains of their vehicle at the bottom of a 25-foot cliff, just off of a stretch of highway near Hot Springs. The area had been searched before, but the crash site was obscured by thick vegetation that made it difficult to see. Bodies found at the site were confirmed as those of Lela and Raymond. They had died from injuries sustained in the crash, which apparently took place the Saturday they left for Temple.

Last edited by starzlookdoun, Sep/19/2018, 5:19


Sep/17/2018, 3:34 Link to this post Send PM to starzlookdoun
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Re: The Story Behind “The Way”

Have to admit I didn't know.

Not being a native English speaker, I tend to miss quite a lot of song lyrics.

I remember the video being played here too (as opposed to half of big US hits that I've never heard of).

The music video version:


Sep/17/2018, 8:46 Link to this post Send PM to Kaunisto


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