Becoming the Living Poet

Road Trip Songs Mix CD

Posted on: May 12, 2009

So last Thanksgiving I drove up to northern California to visit my family, making the drive solo for the first time ever. In the past I always carpooled with someone, flew, or took the train. To fortify myself for the 9 hour journey, I created a road trip songs mix CD.

In a few weeks I’ll be journeying to northern California again and leaving San Diego behind for an unknown period of time (probably as good as forever since you can’t go home again).

There’s only one way to properly document a journey of such monumental existential importance and that’s to make another mix CD.

I made my last mix CD when I was new to the whole long distance relationship thing, so a lot of the songs have a distinct undertone of making peace with solitude. During the song selection process I was also feeling nostalgic for my high school years during which road tripping meant escaping from one’s self and the ways that life could be disappointing. Here’s the playlist of my last mixed CD:

1. The Way by Fastball
2. Moon River sung by Audrey Hepburn
3. Open Road Song by Eve 6
4. Get Out the Map by Indigo Girls
5. Through the Roof ‘n’ Underground by Gogol Bordello
6. Free by The Martins
7. One Headlight by The Wallflowers
8. Born to Be Wild by Steppenwolf
9. I Am the Highway by Audioslave
10. Fast Car by Tracy Chapman
11. Up Around the Bend by Creedence Clearwater Revival
12. Turn the Page as covered by Metallica
13. Tribute by Tenacious D
14. Everyday is a Winding Road by Sheryl Crow
15. Cruisin’ as covered by Gwyneth Paltrow & Huey Lewis
16. Life is a Highway by Tom Cochrane
17. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1 by The Flaming Lips
18. Closer to Me by Dar Williams

In addition to the classic road trip songs about the open road and the endless highway, since I’m about to make a monumental life change I’d like to find some songs that reflect that. And maybe some songs about being reunited with a loved one since I get to spend two months with my partner before I start grad school.

The cynic in me keeps whining about how two months is going to feel like a drop in the bucket in comparison to another year apart. The romantic reminds me that it’s as close as I’m ever going to get to the lyrics of Moon River:

Two drifters off to see the world.
There’s such a lot of world to see.
We’re after the same rainbow’s end

I used to dream about traveling to Europe. I’d plan out everywhere I was going to go and everything I was going to see. As much as I kept telling myself it was a completely reachable goal, I don’t think I really believed I’d ever be able to do it.

On June 10th I’m flying to Denmark. I got my passport in the mail last week and instead of being ecstatic, I feel frightened and unmoored. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself about that. After all, I “should” be thrilled that a fantasy I’ve had for decades is coming true is still another “should”.

I’m trying to think of what I need to feel safe traveling to Denmark. I think a lot of the fear is financial. I’m making the trip on a shoe string budget, perhaps more like half a shoe string, and I haven’t really planned it out or thought it through.

In many ways I didn’t feel I had a choice in the timing. My partner is going to grad school in Europe now so I have a free place to stay. If there was ever a time to go to Europe this is it and it makes the most sense to do it before I start grad school or I’ll be too busy and distracted.

I think in the European trip fantasies I always planned out every detail meticulously. I had all the guide books and knew exactly what I was doing.

There are still a few more weeks. I try to ask myself what plans I would need to make to feel ready for this trip. I have room and board. I have two-way plane tickets. I have a destination. What more do I need? Can’t the rest of the details just fall into place?

My fear keeps telling me I’m not ready for this.

I wish there was something I could comfort it with. I may have to just get on the plane wide-eyed and adrenaline-addled and feel better when Europe turns out not to be filled with flesh-eating zombies. If I refuse to be comforted by reason or romanticism, what else is there?

But back to the topic at hand: road trip songs. I’d love some suggestions. If you have them post them in the comments. I’ll do a followup post and let you know what I picked when the mix is finished.

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6 Responses to "Road Trip Songs Mix CD"

How about “I Love Myself Today” by Bif Naked? It’s a very rebooty song. “Hitch a Ride” by Boston is also good, for optimism “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac and for pessimism “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac. I’ve also got a soft spot for “Lola” by The Kinks, but it probably wouldn’t be a perfect fit. 😉

In general, I would say, don’t worry so much about the should or even trying to suppress fear. One of the oldest cliches about bravery is that bravery isn’t not being scared, but rather being scared, feeling scared every step of the way and trying things anyways.

In short, it’s ok to be terrified, to feel it deeply and feel how it feels to be getting on that plane and arriving in those new cities and new countries. No shoulds about it. Much like keeping one’s eyes open on a roller coaster.

I imagine though part of what might be scaring you is that the trip may be a metaphor in some ways for the massive life change you’re going through, a time of chaos and change wherein the “right” way will always be more so than usual obviously nonexistent. There are few constants or patterns to appeal to, everything will be in some ways new and unknown. And something like that will always just take habit and optimism to look into an inky void of chaos and assuming that more likely than not Cthulhu isn’t lurking under the surface.

After I wrote this out it definitely occurred to me that part of the fear is the timing. I feel like I’ll have nothing to come back to – like my old life will be completely wiped off the map before I get back.

I think that’s giving the newness of going to a foreign country even more weight. The fact that in a sense I’ll also be returning to a foreign country because very little will be the same as it was before I left.

Well, each change may indeed “wipe the map” in the sense that returning to your exact life you lead and the exact patterns you followed is definitely true. But it’s also true that you carry a lot of the good with you in any change. Experience, growth, the person those connections made you and a few long-distance friendships.

It’s also true that life steals those things away from us every year no matter if we change or not, so we might as well always change for our betterment where we have the means and opportunity to. A personal philosophy definitely, but thought it might be useful.

Another song that might actually be a really good fit:
“New York, NY” by Chronic Future

It’s about chasing a dream and feeling conflicted about all the emotions of fear and regret implicit in chasing a dream.

I’ve always liked “Spring Street” by Dar Williams and “New York City” by They Might Be Giants for themes like the ones you’re describing.

…dude, I totally just blew my metal cred.

Your metal cred was listing badly anyway. I happen to know you like the Nields. Now all you have to do is start liking Eagles songs and you’ll never be able to show your face at metal concerts again. :-p

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