Mar. 10th, 2010

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Roadtrip music

Isn't that the dream? The everyday world is behind you, there's a long road ahead, rising and curving to a far destination. Days and night stretch out, diners, service stations, motels, bridges, toilet blocks and a growing litter of wrappers and empty bottles in the back seat.

Hit the play button and let's get this show on the road!

Hit the road

  • On the Road Again – Willie Nelson. On the road again, just can't wait to get back on the road again, going places that I've never been, seeing things that I may never see again. Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway, we're the best of friends, insisting that the world keep turning our way.

  • Holiday Road – Lindsey Buckingham. National Lampoon's American Vacation. Oh boy. This is the theme to the Griswald family adventure in the American Queen Family Truckster. Watch the movie, do the exact opposite, you'll be sweet.

  • America – Simon and Garfunkel. Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike / They've all gone to look for America... Isn't that what we're about? Looking for America on the roads, on the roadside, from the scenic viewpoints, in the diners. Everywhere.

  • Get your Kicks (on Route 66) – Nat King Cole. There are a million versions of this song, but no Route 66 roadtrip would be worth it without at least one. Just the listing of cities along the route gets the mind racing over the map.

  • On the Road Again – Canned Heat. One of my very favourite road songs. Willie Nelson is all very well, but this is a different road the Heat are talking about, one that's buzzing and bopping. Get your motor running, pump the gas and blast off for adventure!

  • Born to be Wild – Steppenwolf. Get your motor running, head out on the highway, looking for adventure and whatever comes our way. Yup!

  • Route 66 – David Campbell. Another version, a few gears up from Nat King Cole and his mellow cruising. Campbell is non-stop. Even when he's spelling it out. S-T-O-P, he says at a million miles an hour.


  • Let's Go to San Francisco – The Flower Pot Men. Forget the end of Route 66 at Santa Monica. I don't particularly like LA. But head on up the coast highway with those amazing views and hit out San Francisco, that delightful, whimsical, colourful, magnificent city by the bay. You want to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and keep going north? The chance is there.

  • San Francisco Bay Blues – Eric Clapton. Clapton the Amazing. Just sit me on a vantage point overlooking that fabulous bay, whether it's sitting on the dock of the bay or on a cable car halfway to the stars, Alcatraz moored out in the blue water, and I'm supremely happy.

  • New York, New York – Frank Sinatra. If we're going to buy an old NYC hack, then we've got to think on New York. What a fabulous place it is in those bustling streets at the bottom of ranges of skyscrapers. Hustle on the corners, cheer on the Yankees, look out from the Empire State Building. There's a bazillion songs, movies and books written about New York, and if America is to be found, here's a great place to begin looking for it!

  • Chicago – Frank Sinatra. Route 66 begins in Chicago. Let's anchor our trip here, look around that toddlin' town, see if we can find America in the brash heart of the nation. Set our wheels on the starting point and hit the gas!

  • Kansas City – Wilbert Harrison. OK, we aren't going to Kansas City, but hey, Kansas City, here we come! It's a state of mind, it's the land of princesses for the wandering kings of the road, it's a drink on a street corner, it's a journey just thinking on it. Besides, I loved Kansas City!

  • San Francisco – Nancy Sinatra. San Francisco, open your golden gate! Look. You can't have too many songs about San Francisco. End of story.

  • I Left my Heart in San Francisco – Tony Bennett. This is the ultimate romanticising of that bayside burg. And you know what? It's all true. Union Park, there's Tony's heart standing on a corner, cable cars rattling past, palm trees whispering above. It's here. Just leave your heart at the door, sir.

  • San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in your Hair) – Scott Mckenzie. There's no great songs about LA. But albums full of anthems for this quirky city full of gentle people. The people make the city. It's true. They have the most mellow, laid-back lifestyle, bookshops and cafes, hills and sun, parks and frisbees, bay windows and lagoons. This is California. This is a place to love and be happy.

  • Graceland – Paul Simon. No, we're not hitting Memphis, not without a long diversion way down through Missouri. But this is all about going somewhere. A pilgrimage through songs and memories, ghosts and empty sockets. But let's just bop along, falling, flying, tumbling, bouncing into Graceland. Looking for love, looking for America in every roadside attraction, every Big Blue Whale, every hokey motel, every tourist trap with a slushie and rack of hats.

In the zone

  • Runnin' Down a Dream – Tom Petty

  • King of the Road – David Campbell. I love David Campbell's upbeat cover of this classic song. We might not be jumping the rattler, but we'll be kings of the road, just for a week or so. Wave at the kids, grab a burger, straighten your paper crown and jingle the souvenir key ring jewels. Nobody telling us what to do, we're kings!

  • Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads. We know where we're going, but we don't know where we've been. We're somewhere in the middle, just belting along. Maybe Paradise ahead, here we go, here we go!

  • Mustang Sally – The Commitments. Maybe we won't drive an old Yellow Cab. Maybe we'll drive a Mustang down Route 66. That's the dream. All you want to do is ride around, Sally. Ride, Sally, Ride!

  • Truckin' – The Grateful Dead. It's all the same. Together, more or less in line, just keep truckin' on! Arrows of neon and flashing marquees on the main street. Chicago, New York, Detroit, it's all the same street. What a long strange trip it's been!

  • America the Beautiful – Barbra Streisand. We may not find America on the road amongst the eighteen-wheelers and Winnebagos, but we can find her soul in a song. Purple mountain majesty above the fruited plain, from sea to shining sea! Listen to the emotion in her voice. she loves this place, its lands, its peoples, its ideals. Here it is.



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September 2010

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