Motel Chronicles: Sam Shepard

By James Calemine

Published in 1982, Sam Shepard’s Motel Chronicles serves as a time capsule in his long career. Some of the chapters from this book formed the basis to his play “Superstitions” and the film Paris, Texas, featuring the Ry Cooder/Jim Dickinson soundtrack.

Shepard also chronicles his childhood, adventures as a ranch hand, musicians, actor and writer from different Western hotels in California, Texas, Washington, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

In December 1979, Shepard wrote this in Homestead Valley, California: “I knew a guitar player who called the radio “friendly.” He felt a kinship not with the music so much as with the radio’s voice. Its synthetic quality. Its voice as distinct from the voices coming through it. is ability to transmit the illusion of people at a great distance. He slept with the radio.

“He believed in a Faraway Radio Land. He believed he would never find this land so he reconciled himself to listening to it only. He believed he’d been banned from Radio Land and was doomed to prowl the air waves forever, seeking some magic channel that would reinstate him to his long-lost heritage.“

Motel Chronicles evokes some distant highway call. A Sam Shepard story appears in Insured Beyond The Grave Vol. 2.

Insured Beyond The Grave

The Local Stranger