This summer, millions of travelers will hit America's highways woefully unprepared. Oh, they'll fill the gas tank, check the oil, throw some sodas in the cooler and check the tires, but then they ruin it all by leaving home without the perfect road-trip music.
In the old days - three or four years ago - compiling a set of road-trip songs meant sweating over a hot tape deck for hours at a time. But now, modern technology has made the home CD a convenient alternative. The hard part now is choosing the music.
For me, the perfect road CD must have a mix of several ingredients. I like the music to have a sort of driving (no pun intended) tempo. There should also be an ample representation of songs about travel and because you'll listen to this set of songs over and over again, they have to be songs you love.
It's easier said than done.
Below is the track listing for my perfect road-trip CD.
Day Tripper - The Beatles
With an opening guitar riff that makes you want to put the pedal to the metal and "trip" mentioned prominently in the song, this one seems like a no-brainer. And really, who can argue with the inclusion of the Beatles.
Make No Sense At All - Husker Du
Included because it's a great mid-tempo rocker and I've always been an unapologetic fan of this Minneapolis power trio. Remember, there's no crime in reserving a special spot for a favorite song or band.
Boplicity - Miles Davis
This smooth, sexy slice of classic jazz comes from the under-appreciated Birth of the Cool album. I included it here because after Day Tripper and Husker Du, I'll need something to keep me from hurtling down the interstate at 100 miles.
Ziggy Stardust - David Bowie
Travel doesn't always mean packing up the Pontiac, so I though it was important to add a song that is air travel appropriate. A song about a spaceman, Ziggy is perfect for flying or even just cruising around on the airport shuttle train.
Bo Diddley - Bo Diddley
Instantly infectious, Bo Diddley shares the chugging tempo of my Honda rolling over cat's eyes at 70 miles per hour. Now what could be more road trip than that?
Guns of Brixton - The Clash
You would be hard-pressed to find music as well-traveled as the songs on the Clash's 1980 double album London Calling. Mixing elements of American blues, British punk and Jamaican reggae, London Calling is a musical map of the world, a pop music travelogue.
Fight the Power - Public Enemy
This is the sound of the city - vibrant, driving, a little threatening and very alive. A hip-hop classic, this funky call-to-arms is the perfect accompaniment for urban driving. Crank it up and head downtown.
Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash
Really, what's more road trip than country music, and what's more country music than Johnny Cash? I particularly like this one because it's got a train in it. I recommend the live version of this song, recorded at a concert at Folsom Prison.
Train to Sao Paulo - Phillip Glass
From the soundtrack to the visionary film Powaqqatsi, this music was written with footage of a Latin American train trip in mind. However, I've found there is no landscape and no mode of travel that this ethereal instrumental fits perfectly.
Surrender - Cheap Trick
Like Makes No Sense At All, this one was included for no other reason than I love the song and the popping 1-2-3-4 tempo calls me like a siren toward the open road.
Meat Puppets - Up On the Sun
My favorite road-trip musical moment was driving through Arizona playing this song over and over. A psychedelic soundscape that sounds like the desert.
Elvis Costello - Alison
I love this song, but it's also here as a concession. My wife likes it, too. It's also an excellent sing-along song, and nothing makes the miles pass faster than belting out songs at the top of your lungs.
Guided by Voices - Wire Greyhounds
Off the band's brand new Universal Truths & Cycles album, this is a new obsession for me. I love the idea of having a 90-second rock nugget in the mix because it gives me something to play between stoplights.
Otis Redding - Dock of the Bay
This is what I've always imagined the end of the road sounds like. Lamenting and still somewhat hopeful (there is whistling involved), it's a beautiful reminder that often, the destination is less important than the journey.
Now, I've shown you mine, you show me yours. Send in the track listing for your ultimate road trip CD. A panel consisting of myself, radio personality Cher Best of Power 107, and Soul Bar Production's Coco Rubio will go through the entries, select our favorites and publish them in the July 12 edition of Applause. Entries are due no later than 6 p.m. Monday. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, fax an entry to (706) 722-7403, or mail your song list to ROAD TRIP CD, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928. Please include your address and a telephone number.
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