Road trips and music go hand in hand. Before I leave on a trip, I get my hands on some new music, in the hopes that at least one of the albums will become the soundtrack for my travels. Certain albums have left lasting impressions – every time I hear them, I’m brought back to the moment when I first discovered them.
Cake’s Fashion Nugget will always be inextricably linked with a family vacation to rural Pennsylvania. The cassette tape was leant to us by a friend right before we left. Warm air, sunshine, the smell of cut grass, the crunch of gravel beneath tires – all those images, sounds, and smells come rushing back the moment I hear the telltale clacks of the first track, “Frank Sinatra.”
Fiona Apple’s Tidal takes me back to a damp, foggy bus ride home from a springtime school trip to Washington, D.C., where I had purchased her debut album on a whim. As the CD spun in my discman, I rested my head against the cold window, unaware that I was listening to someone who would eventually become one of my favourite musicians.
Wolf Parade’s Apologies to the Queen Mary was the soundtrack for a week spent in Holland. Cold sea air, cobblestone streets, warme chocolademelk (hot chocolate – the only Dutch words I remember), train rides. It doesn’t matter where I am when I hear Apologies – there’s always a small aspect of Holland that sneaks into my brain.
Before heading out on a recent road trip to New York City, I stocked up on lots of new albums. As we took off down the I-87, I giddily wondered which one would define our trip.
It happened when we crossed the Hudson River on the Tappan Zee Bridge. We were halfway into Memphis-based Valerie June’s latest album, Pushin’ Against a Stone, when today’s track came on. It had started to rain and was getting dark, but we could still make out the Manhattan skyline. I leaned back in my seat, looked up at the bridge’s steel beams and thought: “Yes. This.”
“Wanna Be On Your Mind” by Valerie June