Where to Hear What for Best Results, Pt. 1
Listen to “On Sir Francis Drake” (from Elephant Mountain by the Youngbloods) heading out to the Pt. Reyes Headlands in Marin Co., Northern California…on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. It made sense for me in 1973. Could still be fun?
Try Miles Davis “Bitches Brew Sessions” when you need to stay awake for at least two hours in the middle of the night on an Interstate freeway. This came in handy on I5 in Southern Oregon more than once as it transported me to outer space and focused my driving simultaneously.
Dancing to “Birdland” by Weather Report is a fun way to distract a fussy baby you’re holding. Repeat as necessary.
“No Quarter” by Led Zeppelin cannot be denied while approaching anyplace where you’re concerned about contracting a contagious disease.
“Over That Road I’m Bound to Go” by Joachim Cooder. A good tune to ward off bad vibes and open up to exploration. Music for a walk in the park.
“Weather with you” by Crowded House anytime we go down to the beach during the holidays. It’s just quintessential Australian beach holiday vibes!
Awwww Rachel, thanks for sharing your memories and all the good tips. My earliest memories listening to music with my dad was when we were coming home from our many fishing trips in the Sierras. On the way up we would listen to Hank Williams “comb your hair and paint and powder”. On the way home it was always the San Francisco Giants. I can still smell the cigarette smoke that filled the cab of our big old truck.
I’ll skip a few generations to my work travel, both flying and taking Amtrak. I would listen to Zoe Keating’s magical cello album Into the Woods or Jerry Douglas on anything, but mostly when I was flying it was Skip Hop Wobble.
Moving forward to the past three years, the pandemic years. I had just retired and decided I wanted to carve spoons. Just what’s needed, a new hobby. Somehow I was directed to Instagram and my path took me to numerous carvers, painters and musicians. Some of my favorites musicians like Jason Isbell and Sarah Jarosz were putting out music every week. Jason and Amanda Shires did a weekly in house ( or barn) show of music and talk - and love - that seemed in many ways like the variety shows I listened to as a kid. It somehow worked as a tether to reality. Sarah Jarosz would put out something new every few weeks that was pure magic. She would do raw solo recordings of tunes of her own and others that included Marc Cohn, Bob Dylan, Casey Musgraves just to name a few. And she’s no slouch as a song writer.
Deep in this message there is a point, trust me. I learned to look at who my favorite bands are touring with and in so doing I’ve discovered some pretty amazing musicians. Sierra Hull had Dead Horses open for her, Mandolin Orange had Rachel Baiman open and Rachel had Viv and Riley open. All of these artists have been wonderful discoveries and now live on my my Spotify favorites list. This list has taken me from central California to high up in the Pacific Northwest multiple times in the past year.
But if you’d rather, I could tell you about the artists I listened to in the early 70’s when I came home from my monthly Air Force reserve meetings, tossed my short hair wig in the corner and grabbed a beer to celebrate just being alive.
I have a tendency to think literally, so I like to listen to Empire State of Mind / Alicia Keys when going to NYC, and Philadelphia Freedom / Elton John when picking up friends at the Philly airport. I love listening to a more more recent song by Peter Rowan, From my Mountain (Calling You) when hiking the Appalachian Trail. The section I hike most frequently is in NJ, but is actually much better than it sounds. I read that the song was about monks in Tibet, but it still seems fitting even when hiking up a mountain in NJ. Last but not least, Madison, TN is one of my favorite songs that mentions places, and I’ve never even listened to that in TN, let alone Madison. When You Bloom and Wyoming Wildflowers are also favorite songs of mine that conjure images of places.
What's Going On by Marvin Gaye while driving through Uptown in Chicago, at least in the early 2000s when I spent a lot of time there. It matched the urban grittiness and somewhat melancholy feeling, but also the spirit and energy and beauty of that neighborhood.
Driving in the mountains west of Denver, I love “Kiwanuka” by Michael Kiwanuka. The otherworldly beauty of this album set against the natural beauty of the landscape is indescribable.
"Hollywood Town Hall" - The Jayhawks
Listen to - Anywhere in Middle America
This is the album that turned me onto The Jayhawks and I wore cassette and CD copies up on drives through the middle of the U.S. over the past 25+ years. I live in Kansas City, Missouri and make trips to the surrounding states for shows and other pleasures, and "Hollywood Town Hall" is usually my soundtrack for my travels. It's a perfect album to me and conjures up the very feel and freedom of being in the middle of this country driving down endless highways with the windows down and the stereo up loud.
Night airplane flights - like overnight red-eyes - require Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, if I have a window seat. This may be because at a young age I once flew across the country at night on acid, smoking the whole way (it was a while ago) and listening to that one tape over and over in my Walkman.
But it's only right with a window seat.