Church of Hed: The Father Road – Recording Notes (Side 4)

Here’s Side 4 of the studio production notes for the 2022 Church of Hed album, The Father Road. On this installment, we dive into the recording of this Lincoln Highway aural travelogue from the mountains of Western Pennsylvania to its ending at Times Square and sea beyond. The prologue of this series analyzes our studio setup, recording approach, and the hardware and software used on the album. It also includes background information on the overall Rivers of Asphalt concept. Read it, if this all seems a bit confusing!

One knob to rule them all! Photo by Angela Williams.
One knob to rule them all! Photo by Angela Williams.

In addition to the prologue, The Father Road’s recording notes span four sides, almost like a vinyl edition of the album that will probably never happen. Nevertheless, the metaphor works well for splitting this collection of notes into five parts.

Side 1 offers insights on the album from the Pacific Ocean outside of San Francisco Bay to the desert border between Nevada and Utah. Side 2 covers this trip down the Lincoln Highway from Western Utah to the Mississippi River. Side 3 tracks the LH studio action through Illinois all the way to the Alleghenies.

16. A Ship In The Mountains 03:53

A Ship In The Mountains serves as a requiem for the S.S. Grand View Ship Hotel located along the Lincoln Highway a few miles west of Bedford, PA. Like many cool spots along this nation’s two-lane rivers of asphalt, the building of the of the Interstate (in this case the execrable Pennsylvania Turnpike) served as the death knell for the hotel. Each time we drove past the site when on tour, we made sure to stop and pay our respects.

The track itself is another golden oldie, originally considered for Rivers of Asphalt. In fact, I used the chord progression from this composition in Trace The Rubicon from Electric Sepulcher. The coda of the piece is essentially an elegy for the Grand View with its delayed piano melody. The Yamaha MM8 combines with the classic Line 6 DL4 and Elektron Analog Drive, providing us with a bespoke grungy piano sound. Also look for a picture of the grand view beyond the hotel during the coda.

17. The Many Souls Of Byberry 04:49

Another track from The Father Road that speaks to a specific location, The Many Souls Of Byberry memorializes the Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry, in the Northeast section of the city on the Lincoln Highway. One of the country’s first mental asylums, it stayed in operation until 1990. Pennsylvania’s Benjamin Rush State Park currently resides on some of the hospital’s original grounds.  

This song mixes subtle influences of psychedelia and Philadelphia soul with a 7/8 rhythm inspired by Chris Squire’s excellent track, Lucky Seven, from Fish Out Of Water, which ranks as the greatest solo album ever released by a member of YES. Dink (Stan Lyon) did a great job coming up with a bass part inspired by his one true musical hero. The hazy ambience in the bridge section provides an elegy for those lost souls. 

18. Approaching Gotham 02:24

Approaching Gotham offers another piano interlude as The Father Road approaches the ending of our aural journey. As such, it combines with Sierra Ascent 1 to provide a sense of symmetry to the album’s composition. Also listen to the dark ambient sound of the Interstates paralleling our trip along the old road.

The inclusion of organ on this track probably pays tribute to Van Der Graaf Generator. This makes sense, as Hugh Banton and Peter Hammill are probably my biggest keyboard influences not named (The Prodigal) Jay Swanson. Our bespoke organ sound mixes a patch I created years ago on the Kawai K5000 with an organ patch from the Waldorf Micro Q. Of course, the Moog Sub 37 serves up that hot synth effects action.

19. The Palisades 02:36

The New Jersey bluffs overlooking Manhattan are known as The Palisades. This track slows down the pattern from Avoiding Toll Roads At Night, with a slightly funkier beat as we approach the end of the Lincoln Highway. The 6/8 rhythm supports that classic  Bruford trap kit style, with those rim shots still very possible on my TrapKAT.

For the lead synth sound, we combined the Korg Z1 and the Modal Electronic Skulpt SE, a different approach than our usual MoogCoast. These two synths blend well together, with a razor sharp lead sound. A synth effect from the Moog Sub 37 makes an appearance during the track’s ending, in concert with the tympani from Spitfire Audio’s Hans Zimmer Percussion library.

20. Times Square And The Shining Sea 03:37

Times Square And The Shining Sea concludes The Father Road as The Lincoln Highway terminates in Manhattan. This is another song written during the initial Rivers of Asphalt composing sessions, as it restates the theme from the album opener, Skyline. However, the coda of the track returns to the sea, or at least Long Island Sound, as we hear the album’s Midwest motif for the last time. The ambient mood of the ending also hearkens back to the fog-bound beginning of Golden Gate, thousands of miles – and 72 minutes – earlier.

In the end, The Father Road is effectively a 74-minute composition. When combined with Rivers of Asphalt, the entire piece provides a nearly two-and-a-half hour aural travelogue chronicling a surreal journey down two of America’s classic old roads. Be sure to revisit these roads and albums, time and time again.

Check out the other installments of the series cover the recording of Church of Hed – The Father Road!

The Prologue

Side 1

Side 2

Side 3


  1. […] Side 1 offers insights on the album from the Pacific Ocean outside of San Francisco Bay to the desert border between Nevada and Utah. Side 2 looks at the recording of this trip down the Lincoln Highway from Western Utah to the Mississippi River. Side 4 chronicles the rest of our journey, from Bedford, PA to Times Square and beyond. […]

  2. […] into Illinois. Side 3 takes us through Illinois all the way to the foothills of the Appalachians. Side 4 covers the LH from Bedford, PA to Times Square and […]