In 2008, a war zone foreign correspondent for among others, CNN and MSNBC took his notebook and his acoustic guitar, and boarded a Greyhound bus to take to the road in an effort to get to know real people in America for whom this low point in our country’s economy were impacted the most, and worst. Doug Levitt interviewed other travelers, played on street corners, in bus terminals, and at city council meetings across the country, writing and strumming his special blend of folk-pop-rock music.
Levitt has logged in over 120,000 miles since then, having published his book written on the road, “The Greyhound Diaries” which is comprised of testimonials of people’s lives and the impact poverty, economic hard times, and social politics has had on them and their families. He walks in the footsteps of other social activists and artists, including Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck.
He has performed at USC, Kennedy Center and countless homeless shelters, photographed thousands of people, and asked real questions of ordinary Americans. The result was a 212-page paperback book from North, South, East and Western areas of the country.
The Greyhound Diaries comes off to the reader as arresting, sometimes depressing, and definitely a grim cross-section of gender, race, creed, poverty levels, outliers, drug and alcohol abusers, and other artists of a kind, discussing along this “odyssey” of a journey on hard, plastic and sometimes tattered seats via fully-seated busses, taking off from city and small town terminals.
As a musician, there are several MP3, CD and live streaming opportunities to hear selected songs, written and performed by Levitt with titles such as:
In the Shadow of the City
Truck Drivers Road
Ballad of the Sunrise Motel
Awake on Orchard Street
Anywhere But Here
All of these are labeled EP for Extended Player, longer than a single but shorter than an album, usually between 4 and 6 tracks. EP versions of an artist’s creation is what the music industry defines as “used to raise awareness of their talent.”
Doug Levitt still takes to the road, taking notes, and still songwriting with an increased focus on being a voice for perhaps millions of Americans who travel by bus, fight to survive, and hopefully, find some peace along the ride. It might be called a road trip journal, as it includes his voice and style in the telling of fascinating stories from voices that, according to Levitt, need to be heard.