5 Playlists to Add Fuel to Your "Fernweh"

German has a word for anything that has been dreamed up, and if you happen to come across a new sensation, you can probably make up a long, deliciously descriptive word on the spot. Fernweh is a particularly mesmerizing word, and one that I have felt throughout my life, but never as much as I do now, during this unending pandemic. It is the opposite of homesickness, perhaps best described as far-sickness, a longing to be somewhere else, in a distant land.

If you think you’ve ever been homesick for a place you’ve never been before, then these playlists are for you. And if you haven’t had the chance to experience this sensation, maybe my recommendations will have the honor of being your first dive into the elusive Fernweh...

  1. We’re starting off with kartoffelhits, or potato hits, a playlist that describes itself with such charming images as “40th birthday,” “village disco,” “evening barbecue with the neighbors,” and “a little bit of booze.”  This one is sure to get you in the mood to dance your heart away to 99 Luftballons and wish you were getting drunk in a Bavarian village instead of spending the days in Zoom University.

  2. The daydream-travel possibilities are raised to the nth degree with this next selection: United Nations Vintage Groove. This is definitely one to check out if you’re a fan of either African music (there’s a lot of it here!) or organic sounds in general. After a listen, you might have the sudden urge to make friends that you didn’t know you needed, in distant lands that you’ve never thought about. There’s a clear danger in listening to this particular playlist though, because you might accidentally overdose on Fernweh and never again want to see a place a second time--after all, there are so many more!

  3. The scale is shrinking back down to a very concentrated and culturally fascinating part of the world: New Orleans. In On the Bayou: Music of New Orleans, there’s Creole, Jazz, Rhythm & Blues, and even Swamp Rock, which is a pair of words that I never thought I’d utter together.

  4. Coconut Woman has apparently been perfectly curated to put a smile on my face. It makes me want to move my feet and drink my cocktails, wandering through the restless streets of a tropical wonderland. In that world, nothing matters but joy and the spirit of fun--and the good ol’ travel bug!

  5. What desire for distant lands could be satisfied without the current fad, sea shanties? If you put on some sea shanties to fight God to, you’ll dive deeper into the fad than you ever thought you’d go. I’ll leave the description of this playlist to the curator herself, who describes it best: “Yearning for the great open sea, unknown adventures and the camaraderie that comes along with being stuck on a ship for long periods of time.” And with all the daydream lands waiting for you across the ocean, it’s time to get listening and get going!