Mix Tape Musings: Running Down A Dream
When you’re planning a long distance road trip, you need to prepare for that journey and I don’t mean packing. It’s the music you need in your car that will get you there.
Whether it was to wherever Uncle Sam sent us, going back to Detroit to visit family/friends (sometimes on the way to the new post), going to see a concert/sporting event with a friend who’s not in the area you currently live in or moving your sister coast to coast to coast, we’ve always listened to music along the way. We took turns on what we listened to, whether it was dad’s 60s/70s classic rock, mom’s Motown or whatever fad my sister or I was into at the time of the trip. Along the way, we’ve always found artists from different genres that we all could agree on, and sometimes not so much, especially when I need that Metallica fix. But you put Symphony & Metallica on and mom is tapping her foot or humming along (sometimes both) three or four songs in until the end. When you call her on it, she says she likes the beat &/or melody.
When traveling with friends, I still try to share the tunes though sometimes nix a suggestion if it doesn’t have the right vibe for when they choose it or what point in the journey it is. If it’s my car, I try to make sure I have something that the other person(s) like so even if I’m driving the whole way, they’re involved somehow. You don’t want something too mellow when in that final stretch at 1 in the morning, it needs to be something that keeps you awake and/or sing along with if everyone knows the lyrics. Looking back some of the lyrics we came up when we didn’t know/couldn’t understand the words were pretty funny.
So, preparing for that trip: What do you need?
- Good snacks that don’t need both hands to eat or make your hands sticky & drinks.
- Traveling companion(s): Whether family or friends, it needs to be someone that you enjoy going on the road with. You get that one person who wants to go but just doesn’t do well in the car for long drives or has completely different taste in what they like to talk about (if they talk) or listen to while driving and it can make even the shortest trip feel twice as long.
- Money (duh) “…for lunch, gas & tolls.”
- Cell phone &/or GPS unit (Mine goes by Rosie cause her voice reminds me of the maid from the Jetsons).
- Great tunes, of course, especially if driving solo, good music can get you through those lst/last hours when you’re barely awake/almost there. Got to have stuff that keeps you pumped up, makes you want to sing along, play steering wheel guitar/drums. The right music can be better than your caffeine beverage of choice.
- A “new” cd to listen to:
- You don’t have to have it at the start of the trip, it can be acquired somewhere along the way before that last pit stop before you get back. It doesn’t have to be played first thing and if it’s something that caught your ear, but it’s just that one song and the rest isn’t to your taste, change it.
- It has to be something you don’t already own! You can pick up the new cd by one of your favorite bands if it comes out before or during your trip or you haven’t picked up yet/waiting for amazon to deliver. No cheating and listening to it before you leave (putting it on your mp3 for later is allowed).
- You can pick up that classic album that you never upgraded/got around to buying that you find at the gas station/convenience store on the road.
- A new artist/band you hear on the radio/event or see in concert on the trip, even if it’s some band in a bar that’s selling their home made demos.
- Something fitting for the journey or the destination.
- A surprise or twist from your usual style(s) of music or your fellow traveler's that you think they might like or something that could be a reach but no one expects (Who’s thinking Dweezil Zappa?) I do think D.Z. has some cool stuff if you can find it, but should’ve picked something else up along the way.
- Something that just strikes you along the way that you have to check out.
- That damn song that you can’t get out of your head til you listen to it 5 times! If you don’t like it afterwards, you can always throw it away or let someone else keep it.
- As my sister is fond of, a good mix tape/cd or making your own best of a band/artist can go a long way. If built right, you can finally change your fellow traveler’s mind on someone they say they don’t like, introduce them to something new or songs from before they got into a band, and possibly put them in your “School of Rock (other genre) 101.” I like to start with a kick, then tone it down, throw in an album cut or two you wouldn’t hear if you don’t own it before closing with the best of the best.
Growing up in the 1980s, there’s some great artists/bands that make trips enjoyable or made you not want to get out of the car! Springsteen, Mellencamp, Huey Lewis & the News have some great songs that make you want to keep driving. If I decide to make a mix cd for the next road trip, I almost always start there and build around it. Sometimes there’s a theme to my madness, other times it’s just the mood I’m in going into the trip, especially since I usually don’t sleep well the night before cause I’m too excited to get going. For our coast to coaster, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ “Running Down A Dream” unintentionally became our theme song. From the cd I made of the songs they played when we saw them live the summer before the trip, to it popping up on the radio or the iPod we heard a version of it on all but one of a 5 day trip. It’s one of those songs that just gets you going and makes you want more music about driving and it was fitting for our trip.
I’m heading to Nashville in a few days and though I’m not into country music at all, I felt a little Johnny Cash could be a good start for the trip. Still working on some of it, but it’s nearly there. A friend is going with me and didn’t have any suggestions for music at all, so he’s in for a few surprises, including this cd!
And bring your chargers, that $20+ could be used for the above “new” cd or that souvenir you’ve been eyeing…Even with the mp3 player taking over and leaving other music formats in the dust, I still keep a 248 count cd case in the trunk (just in case) that covers most of the music I enjoy. If someone can’t find something they like in there, then they don’t belong in a car with me for more than a couple hours!
The new Springsteen cd comes out just before the trip…