Roadtrippin’: An annotated travel playlist with visual accompaniment

This week, Jennifer treats us to some highlights from her roadtrip playlist along with various photos from our trip to Oxford, Mississippi. Bob Dylan seemed to be an underlying theme of our trip, beginning with some giddy, punchy conversation over dinner on the first night of our drive wherein Jennifer and I told Cam how Dylan had recently been picked up in a neighborhood in New Jersey where the apprehending officers did not recognize him.

I would also like to note that I was not party to the Lady Gaga song.

Selections from the roadtrip playlist, with annotations, and some photographs from the road:

1. Battle Stations, Brine and Bastards – I bought two roadtrip necessities in a truckstop somewhere in Ohio: a satin Peterbilt pillow, for napping in the back seat, and a radio converter for my iPod. This is the first song I cued up once we had everything set up. Brine and Bastards specialize in punk songs on topics of interest to pirates; this particular tune is one I use to get myself moving in the mornings.

2. What Are You Waiting For, Phantom Planet – This one is iTunes bonus track from the Raise the Dead record, and came up randomly on shuffle after Brine and Bastards. The lyrics say it all: We’ll drive for miles / we’ll drive across town / we’ll drive with all the windows down and Every turn we take / creates a different destiny. It reminds me of my first roadtrip on a warm early summer day in 1992, when, giddy with the end of the school year and having been given my mother’s car for the day, I gathered up my best friend and her brother and drove a whole thirty miles to Leesburg, Virginia, where we got ice cream and then came home.


Art in the airport, Cleveland, OH

3. Fallen Angel, Poison – The first song I put on when it was my turn to drive. The part of Virginia I grew up in has a fair number of narrow, twisty, tree-lined streets. I particularly enjoyed driving them with this one cranked up as loud as possible. Every time I hear the opening chords I remember the joy of navigating tight turns and then gliding out onto the open road. And also the basso roar of the Volvo engine. I loved that car.

4. Adeste Fidelis, Bob Dylan – I put this one on as we were going from Sun Studio to Graceland. It’s from his 2009 Christmas record. I only made them listen to the first verse, which he does, in fact, sing in Latin. The whole idea of “Bob Dylan” and “Christmas record” is kind of mind-boggling, but it’s actually one of my favorite renditions of this particular song, mainly for his unfussy delivery. It is the antidote to every over-saturated saccharine carol ever recorded.


Cam and April investigating a phone booth, Oxford, MS

5. Chameleon, Del Rendon and the Puerto Rican Rum Drunks – An entry from a (kind of) local band – Del Rendon was from Starkville, MS – this was another one I played on the way to Graceland. It’s kind of slow, but it isn’t a dirge. It has a sweet melody and sharp lyrics, one of my favorite combinations, and is a song that has kept me company on many journeys in the last couple of years.

6. Wake the Dead, Family Force 5: And then, on the other end of the spectrum, some sweet dirty Georgia crunk. I first encountered this band at Warped tour a couple of years ago, and they’ve been a staple of road-trip playlists ever since. They’re particularly fun to listen to when you have a big stretch of open highway in front of you.


Animal skull in the Jungle Room, Graceland, Memphis, TN

7. Desolation Row, My Chemical Romance: Dylan purists, you may be horrified, but I love this version of this song, particularly the quasi-dueling guitar solos. I also find it very soothing in heavy traffic, or when trying to find my way through unfamiliar territory.

8. Bad Romance, Lady Gaga: I contrived to kill my phone the day we went to Holly Springs, and it wasn’t until we got to Louisville two days later that I could take it somewhere to try and get it fixed. I was hot, anxious, annoyed and bracing myself for dealing with the people at the cell phone store. I needed a little bit of swagger for moral support, which is basically this song in a nutshell.


As seen from the parking lot following the screening of The Big Lebowski, Lebowskifest, Louisville, KY

9. Don’t Let Her Hold You Down, Michael Runion: This one floated up in the shuffle as we were making our way through the gentle rolling hills of north-west Kentucky towards Cincinnati. It was a quiet moment in the car; everyone else was asleep, or I thought they were, and outside the landscape was bruise-bright from recent rain. The mournful sweetness of the song fit in perfectly. It was a roadtrip Moment of Zen.

10. Bittersweetheart, Soul Asylum: This one also came up somewhere in Kentucky, though it may have been before Louisville, not after; I can’t remember anymore. Soul Asylum is another band that’s kept me company on numerous journeys over the years, particularly journeys that involved plunging into the unknown. It’s always a comfort to hear them coming out of the speakers.


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