Caroline Rose proudly describes herself as a “failed scholar and modern-day hobo.” It’s a fitting assessment since she earned a degree in architecture and then decided to live in a van and sing songs around the world, but sometimes she still feels the pull of familiarity.
On “Back East,” a touching track from her debut album I Will Not Be Afraid, the Northeast native uses her delicate, breathy vocals to describe a rare moment of homesickness. Underneath, a plaintive mandolin and steady drum beat softly urge her to keep on the move.
“I wrote it when I was 18, so I don’t really remember where I was or who I wrote it about,” admits the 24-year-old in an email exchange. “I left home when I was 17, so I probably just missed my family. It’s a simple song about longing, loneliness and a desire to fly by the wind.”
Somewhat surprisingly, Rose says she doesn’t often think of “home” as fondly as the song implies.
“It makes me think I don’t really have a home, and I gravitate toward people who feel like they don’t have homes either,” she says. “I never felt comfortable where I grew up and wanted to get away from the time I realized there was a mighty big world to explore. My scene was run-down and filled with dead ends, a town that fell prey to drugs and boredom, and I never wanted that and saw through the people who didn’t care.”
Now she feels like life on the move is part of her identity.
“I always have dreams about finding the perfect place, but I’ll never stop traveling. Sometimes I feel kinship with a bird in a cage, wanting to fly and be free but not understanding why it’s trapped. Freedom comes in a lot of forms, and for me it’s experiencing everything — good and bad. If I can do that from the comfort of a home, then fine. But at least right now, I see that as giving up and accepting someone else’s way of life for me.”
Still, though, there are some things you just can’t do in a van.
“I’d really like a porch to drink cocktails on,” says Rose. “And a garden and a record player. But I could always just be like Elvis and have one installed in my Cadillac.”
Enjoy the CMT Edge premiere of Caroline Rose’s road-weary tribute to going home, “Back East.”