Thursday, July 23, 2009

Road Trip 09: Fla or Bust!

It’s vacation time again and, per usual at this time in July, I’m headed back to PC to visit my mom and hang out on the beach for a week. Oh joy. I guess I’ve made the trip from Nashville to PC close to 50 times or more over the past 15+ years and each trip it’s the same question: What to listen to? And the same is true for any road trip for any reason, and used to I’d make a mix CD of stuff I was into or stuff I was trying to get into and it was cool to have a little document of a time in my life when I went to State College, PA or Franklin, KY. But how far can a mix CD get you? Exactly 80 minutes tops and that’s only if you happen to land it right down to the second. And if you’re like me, you can maybe go through a mix twice before you get bored with it. Plus, with the advent of the iPod/iPhone and play lists, etc, it’s sorta silly to make a limited time mix CD when you can virtually make a mix that goes on for days and days. But sometimes that gets boring too, and being the album guy that I am, I always like to have at least a small arsenal of CDs on hand to get me from point A to point B (or C, D, E, F, etc).

I used to put a lot of thought into which CDs I put in the case. I tried to plan it so that if anyone “cool” where I was going should happen to be in my car and be flipping through my case, they’d see a representation of all the great stuff I listen to, from classics like the Beatles and the Stones, to alternative mainstays like the Cure and the Smiths and then some more obscure, “If you know this then mega-points-on” stuff like Slowdive and Superchunk. Lame, I know, but that was me at 23 (or 33, I dunno), and of course nobody was ever in my car who gave a monkey’s rump, but I was prepared. The problem with this mindset is that while I had a double barrel blast of some really great stuff, it wasn’t necessarily anything I was in the mood to listen to at the time. So now that I’m older and less concerned with my “street creds,” I’m more apt to fill my case with things that I’m in the mood for or have proven to be good travel companions over the years. Also, when not flying solo, I have to consider what Karla can tolerate. And yes, I still have to throw in at least one of the Cure, the Smiths and REM to prove where I’m really coming from, but the rest could be anyone’s guess.

Below is what I’ve set aside for my vacation beginning on Friday.

The Smiths: The Queen is Dead – It’s hard to decide which Smiths album to choose. Usually on a road trip you want something relatively upbeat, and while Louder than Bombs has plenty of that, it’s also rather long (which can bog you down). The next logical choice is this one…’cos Vicar in a Tutu makes me bounce in my seat every time.

Rhett Miller: Rhett Miller – Of course I’m taking the new Rhett Miller!

Regina Spektor: Far – Of course I’m taking the new Regina Spektor (too)!

Blur: The Great Escape – I’m over a dozen years late for these guys but I’m catching up hard and heavy. Of the ones I’ve picked up so far, this one is the best for linear travel.

Van Morrison: Astral Weeks – I’m not sure how this one is on the road yet and almost opted for His Band and the Street Choir, which has seen a bit of service. Yet because Astral Weeks is so freeform and stream of conscious it may be perfect for zoning in those long, flat Florida stretches…but it may also make me weary.

Love: Forever Changes – I’ve had some good rides with this one and since I’ve not heard it in awhile, I thought it might be time to dust it off.

The Cars: The Cars – Isn’t it obvious? Let the good time roll!!!

Elefant: Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid – This is an amusingly melodramatic album that both Karla and I can agree on. It should kill the stretch between Birmingham and Montgomery.

Duran Duran: Big Thing – While not the best DD album, it has some enjoyable hits and some hidden album gems. I’ve had a few of the latter in my head recently so thought it would be fun to take it along. I’ve probably not heard it since the 90s, so we shall see.

REM: Monster – I promised someone (probably JT) that I would give this album another chance. To quote Grand Moff Tarkin from Star Wars, “I’m taking an awful risk, Vader.”

Depeche Mode: Sounds of the Universe – I’ve let this wonderful album slip away from me, and in preparation for the September 1 show I need to get reacquainted.

John Cale: Vintage Violence – Perhaps an odd choice given the low-key quirk-pop from our Welsh ex-Velvet, but it works pretty well for an easy, non-committal, get in the zone cruise and even more so with headphones on the beach.

Ride: Going Blank Again – This is a perfect traveling album and I’ve not gone on a trip longer than an hour since 1997 that it hasn’t been with me.

Belle & Sebastian: If You’re Feeling Sinister – When you need to slow things down and mellow out, there’s nothing better.

Mojave 3: Excuses for Travelers – The title says it all, another fantastic road album and this one works especially well for nighttime cruising.

The Beatles: Abbey Road – My favorite of the later Beatles albums, the ever-changing suite of songs at the end is especially nice for breaking up the monotony.

Aerosmith: Toys in the Attic – ‘Cos sometimes you gotta rock and this album is as good as any.

Travis: The Man Who – This is Karla’s favorite band and it’s the album I’m most familiar with, so win-win.

Fleetwood Mac: Tusk – Karla isn’t such a big fan of the pre Buckingham/Nicks era (my favorite) and we’re both sick of the self-titled and Rumors, so this is a logical compromise.

Iggy Pop: Lust for Life – I’ve road-rocked on business trips to this album through over ten states (TN, AL, GA, MO, IN, IL, DE, PA, MI, VA, etc) and it hasn’t let me down yet.

Steve Martin: The Crow – I’ve seen Steve on a few late night shows doing his bluegrass thing and been impressed every time. I bought this album on a whim and have only really listened to it once. I’m hoping to add to that listen in Fla.

Journey: Greatest Hits – Sometimes you just need an album where you can sing along to every song. Look no further.

Cheap Trick: Greatest Hits – See above but a little but more legit.

Cluster: Sowiesoso – I really doubt this one will get a listen, it’s too “weird” for all others involved (ok, Fox honestly doesn’t have an opinion at this point), but if I get an hour alone and there’s a CD player at hand…kraut-rock on!

AC/DC: Back in Black – Because nothing says “Florida redneck” better than AC/DC.

The Doors: LA Woman – Traditionally this has always been my least favorite Doors album (even more so than the glossy-awkward Soft Parade), mainly ‘cos aside from Riders on the Storm I freakin’ hated every song on the album. But then a couple or so years ago I popped it in to give it another chance and it finally hit me. So now it’s moved up a notch to the second-to-last place of J-Morrison era Doors albums. Now it’s gonna get the official road test to see if it can beat out the debut (which is not road-worthy at all).

Frank Sinatra: Songs for Swingin’ Lovers – Just to add a bit of class to the collection and it’s something my mom will listen to (over and over again).

Meat Loaf: Bat Out of Hell – When you’re ready for some paradise by the dashboard lights…

Old 97’s: Fight Songs – It’s just not a road trip without Rhett and the boys and this is the one I’m always drawn to for some time behind the wheel. Fight Sleep Songs would work just as well.

Neil Young: After the Gold Rush – Everybody loves this album. And if you don’t, you’re wrong.

Cosby, Stills & Nash: Daylight Again – I predicted that I would really like this album despite pretty much detesting CSY (at least D-Crosby), and the album coming out in the bad-for-true-rockers era of the 80s doesn’t help. And while I don’t yet love it, I really do enjoy it. The dentist office cheese really hits me where I need it (er, whatever that means).

The Go-Betweens: 1978-1990 – I can never decide which Go-Bs album to take so this time I decided on a nice retrospective that includes “hits,” album tracks, a few stray rarities and nothing off that dreadful first album.

Chris Isaak: Mr. Lucky – Cruising to Chris Isaak has always been a good thing and since his new album is a return to old school form (again, not that he’s ever strayed too far from his path), let’s keep on shakin’ it to this one.
Sonic Youth: The Eternal – I doubt this one will get a play, but I need to listen to it more, so felt compelled to bring ‘er along.

The Cure: 4:13 Dream – Wish is usually my travel album but I’m sick of it and JT told me yesterday that he’s decided their latest release it brilliant, so I’ll see if he’s right or not.

The Pixies: Doolittle – Because it simply wouldn’t be a trip home without some Pixies coming along.

Peter Gabriel: So – As much as I hated Sledgehammer when I was a kid, this album is an amazing listen with a lot of classic cuts and I’ve grown very fond of it over the years – even Sledgehammer (“Open up your fruit cake”).

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