Doug Levitt used to be a reporter, a foreign correspondent. Based in London, he reported on the news for ABC, CNN and NBC. He covered conflicts in the Middle East, the Balkans and Africa. However, ten years ago he gave that up to travel around the United States on Greyhound buses searching for the America and Americans missing from the mainstream media. He gives Woodie Guthrie, who spent a lot of time in the Depression riding the rails along with many thousands of other displaced, homeless men seeking work.
Inspired by the people he met and the stories they told, he wrote their songs. Now he also records their stories in Greyhound, and sings the songs. He’s logged over 100,000 miles on Greyhound buses, and now keeps a records of his songs and stories, plus over 25,000 pictures, as the Greyhound Diaries.
In an interview on public radio, he explains how the bus as transportation encompasses every demographic in the country except economic. That’s because the only people who ride the bus are those who cannot afford to either drive or take an airplane. Since Greyhound has 2,200 destinations, it’s also the most geographically diverse as well. The other riders are normally struggling, and in the process finding a greater sense of their most authentic selves.
Doug found it easy to meet and connect with people. On the road, especially late at night in the dark, it’s easier to tell personal stories to people who are strangers, who’ll remain anonymous because they’ll never see each other again.
Doug Levitt is recording his songs and playing concerts. Back of his background growing up in public schools in Washington D.C., the son of DC Councilmember Carol Schwartz, was singing in a high school gospel choir. He uses music to speak to what people are contending with.
During his many miles on the buses during the past ten years the country has been troubled in many ways. In the past 10 years he has seen an increase in veterans, especially those Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder self-medicating their condition with illegal drugs and alcohol.