Landslide Blues


Recorded at Backwoods Recording Studio by:

Vocals and guitar: Tony Ray Jones.

Harmony: Kim Marrs and Larry Marrs.

Fiddle: Kim Marrs.

Dobro: Al Goll.

Mandolin: George Pearce.

Arranged, mixed and produced by Tony Ray Jones.

Composed  by Mark Owen.

Released 22nd October 2012.

Creative Commons attribution licence.


To download your own MP3 of this song click on the black arrow next to the heart in the player above.

The Story

On 17th October 2011 a massive landslide blocked the main highway through the Manawatu Gorge in New Zealand's North Island. And a further equally disruptive landslide occurred a few weeks later. After a tremendous amount of work, the road was finally restored to normal traffic in September 2011. Thanks are due to the team of contractors, engineers and supporting staff who worked long hours, sometimes at great personal risk, to restore the road link and maintain much needed alternative routes.

The Manawatu Gorge is an unusually deep water gap carved out over millions of years by the river as the mountain range rose. The road was completed in 1872 on the south side of the gorge which is more accessible, though notoriously more unstable, than the north side which has a foundation of older, harder rock. It is the important  main road link between the east and west sides of the lower New Zealand North Island. A rail track was laid along a narrow shelf on the north side in 1881.

There's a persistent legend that's recalled every time a landslide blocks the gorge. During the Second World War, the United States Army offered to construct a tunnel linking east and west, providing the New Zealand government was willing to contribute financially. When landslides like this last one occur, we regret that finance was refused and the tunnel was never built. However, the government was likely correct in refusing finance because the country was under threat of imminent invasion and all resources were better put towards the war effort with an eventual good outcome for New Zealand.

To read more about landslides visit Dave Petley's Landslide Blog.


Verse 1

Half a rotten mountainside fell down on our road.
Now we go the long way round, with our heavy load.

Verse 2
Tons and tons of soggy dirt landed on our road.
Bridges once we crossed each day are buckled, bent and bowed.

Verse 3
Where we used to love to go is closed by a road block.
All  because a storm awoke a moving pile of rock.

Verse 4
Half a rotten mountainside fell down on our road.
Now we go the long way round with our heavy load.

On the road wet dirt does ooze.
Such bad news we did not choose.
Such bad news does not amuse.
Now  we sing the landslide blues!

Cover photo, for personal use only, courtesy of NZ Transport Agency.




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