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Roads To Moscow


Al Stewart

Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

"Roads To Moscow" is one of Stewart's epic songs, he is reputed to have read forty books researching it. Stewart's management tells us, "the narrator is a Russian soldier who fought for Russia, but was captured briefly by the Germans." Containing some intricate acoustic guitar work, it is one of his most requested tracks.
The studio recording of "Roads To Moscow" is a full eight minutes in length, while an excellent version, running to 8 minutes 17 seconds, appears on the second volume of Oceans Of Delphi. This is a three volume unofficial CD set of live recordings made between 1970 and 1996, and released through the UK fan club in 1996 by Stewart's official biographer Neville Judd. (thanks, Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2)
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Comments (4):

This song moved me so much when I first heard it as a young man. It is one of the most intelligent and literate songs ever written. It made me a confirmed Al Stewart fan for life. I still look forward to every concert when he comes to the Seattle area. And he still produces fantastic music--the man is amazingly prolific! Just listen to 2006's "Somewhere in England 1915." Brilliant stuff!
- Guy, Woodinville, WA
Matt's got it right. The song is the story of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who served in the Red Army artillery during the war. The narritive starts with the German invasion in the summer of 1941, describes the epic fighting retreat from Poland to Moscow, and then the slog back as the Russians learned how to beat what had been the best army in the world when it started. But, near the end, Solzhenitsyn wss captured by the Germans, held for a day, and then turned loose when they retreated. Winning the war hadn't helped Stalin's murderous paranoia, and anyone who had such experience, or any other contact with Westerners, Axis OR Allied, was considered likely to have become a spy. So Solzhenitsyn was jailed, tortured, tried, convicted and shipped off to the Gulag. He managed to survive, to outlive Stalin, and he was freed along with thousands of others in the later 1950s. Of course, millions had been sent to the Gulag, and many had died. His ground-breaking fiction, "A Day In The Life Of Ivan Dennisovich" told what the Gulag had been like. Later he produced the 3 volume, non-fiction, "The Gulag Archipelago". Richard Overy's "Why The Allies Won" has a quick and to-the-point analysis of how the Axis, the Nazis, the Facists and the Japanese Army had appeard to be unbeatable when the war started in 1937, but were halted by the fall of 1942, and completely lost strategic initiative by the middle of 1943. Wirth's "Russia At War" tells the military story from the Russian side effectivly, and "Enemy At The Gates", about Stalingrad, captures the exact moment of what Churchill called "The Hinge Of Fate". (Along with El Alamien in North Africa and Midway/Guadalcanal in the Pacific). I've seen Al Stewart perform this song several times and he introduced it as the story of Mr. Solzhenitsyn, with slides while he played, once or twice. Its a great song.
- Bill, Oakland, CA
Here's what the man himself had to say on the liner notes for Past, Present and Future:

Al wrote: The German Invasion of Russia, on the 22nd June 1941, was on of the greatest single events in the history of the world. The hero of "Roads to Moscow" fights his way first backwards towards Moscow, and then all the way to Berlin, only to be imprisoned by Stalin, as were incalculable millions of others at the end of the Second World War. General Guderian, the Panzer Leader, was incidentally perhaps the most imaginative of the early German Commanders, and his lightning drives across Poland and France had created the basis for mush of the German Army's reputation of invincibility. He was also the only German General to argue with Hitler, during the latter's frequent harangues.
- Greg, Shelbyville, KY
Sorry to disagree, but this song is written from the perspective of a Russian soldier.

The end of the song is most chilling. The soldier was captured by the Germans, and then released. Communist Russia was very suspicious of captured soldiers because they though they had been "comprimised." The "special train" that the soldier must board will take him to a kind of exile Siberia, forced by his own government.
- Matt, San Jose, CA
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