Add This To Your Playlist: Week Twenty-Six- Roadtrippin'

It’s summer and that means that all those long-awaited plans to drive cross-country with your friends are finally approaching. After the long and stressful days of spring, it’s all you can do not to jump in your car and escape your home life for some new scenery. It’s important to get out every once in a while and to experience things you haven’t seen or done before. Here are some of my favorite songs to pass all that time and miles in the car.

 

  1. 1. “Never Look Back” by BamBoo

    Toronto-based indie rock band BamBoo explores alt-pop sounds and inventive beats with their tracks. The band consists of members Nick Collett, Steve Benjamins, Marcus Retterath and Michael Schmidt. Their sound is inspired by artists they look up to, such as Half Moon Run, Brand New, Sigur Ros and Kings of Leon. The band began releasing music in 2015 with their debut album, Chances. In 2017, they released two companion EPs Charms and Crowds. Their most recent release is the third EP in this series titled Cheers.

     

    In this reflective track, BamBoo highlights the regrets in leaving behind a piece of their past and having to make do without it. It begins with the singer describing the passing of time of a previous relationship and how it all seems like a waste of time now. Even though the absence of this person affects him, he knows there is no going back to what they had and resolves to “never look back.” He then begins to remember all of the negative and unstable parts of the relationship as he mentions a “black dress and ecstasy” as well as someone screaming and yelling “like a trapped dog inside a cell.” He has these memories as he takes a drag on his cigarette and reminds himself that not going back to the way things were will be better for both of them. Whatever they had, it never really seemed to be healthy anyway.

  2. 2. “Coming Home (Oregon)” by Mat Kearney

    Mat Kearney has been an influential name in songwriting since he began in 2003. Born in Eugene, Oregon, Kearney grew up with his two brothers, playing soccer from an early age. He went to school in California at California State University, Chico, where he studied literature and continued to play soccer. He first learned of his love for music when he traveled to Nashville with music producer Robert Marvin. He started out by playing coffee houses and realized that he loved performing in Nashville so much that he actually called home to Oregon and told his family that he wasn’t coming back. Now, six albums later, Kearney has made a career for himself doing what he loves and has had his songs featured in several television shows such as 30 Rock, Bones, Grey’s Anatomy and Kyle XY.

     

    “Coming Home (Oregon)” describes Kearney’s journey as a young hopeful who wanted to chase his dreams of stardom in Nashville. While he’s appreciative of all his successes, sometimes he misses the place he grew up. As he expresses his want to return to the “place that [he remembers],” he asks his home of Oregon, “Would you spread wide your arms for this wayward son?” This story of homegoing is filled with his boyhood nostalgia as he mentions the “evergreens and caffeine” and the “fast boys” from his hometown, known for being home of TrackTown USA where large outdoor Track and Field events are held. Although he could never give up everything he achieved by moving away from home, he admits that he “left [his] heart in Oregon.”

  3. 3. “Low Rider” by War

    A group of Long Beach natives formed War, an American funk band, in 1969. They are known best for some of their influential hit songs such as “Cisco Kid” and “Spill the Wine.” The sound of the band is a culmination of styles from different genres, including influences from reggae, R&B, blues, rock, funk, Latin and jazz. In 1973, War released their album The World Is a Ghetto which became the best-selling album of the year. In their time, this band stood in the face of controversy for their member line-up which included people of multiple ethnicities, which was uncommon in the late 60s and 70s. After the band’s series of line-up changes, a new group called the Lowrider Band formed from former members of War, while Lonnie Jordan was the only member to stay with the original record label and continue to perform under the name War.

     

    “Low Rider” is the quintessential road trip song as it encompasses the experience of driving in a funky car. The low rider is a type of customized car that is often painted in bright, showy colors and has wire-spoke wheels and white-wall tires, making the car significantly lower to the ground. While the song doesn’t have much substance, it’s a really fun track that gets you excited about the open road. The speaker essentially explains the features of his low-riding car as he says it “drives a little slower,” due to the fact that most low riders are specifically made for show and are therefore driven at a cruising speed. He goes on to say that his car attracts others towards it as it “knows every street” and “is the one to meet.” He then invites the listener to “take a little trip” in his car so that they too can experience the wonders of his low rider.

  4. 4. “Ramblin’ Man” by The Allman Brothers Band

    This band from Macon, Georgia was formed by brothers Duane (slide and lead guitarist) and Greg Allman (vocalist, keyboardist and songwriter) along with Dickey Betts (lead guitarist, vocalist and songwriter), Berry Oakley (bassist), Butch Trucks (drummer) and Jaimoe Johanson (drummer). The Allman Brothers Band was known for their mastery of improv and used their music to combine elements of jazz, country and blues. In ‘69, they debuted under Capricorn records with their self-titled album and opened for The Velvet Underground in Boston. Many of the band's songs were written under the influence of psychedelics, as the band would frequent the Rose Hill Cemetery to get high and bond with one another. The drugs seemed to pay off as their live album, At Fillmore East, recorded in ‘71 is considered to be one of the best live albums of all time.

     

    “Ramblin’ Man” is a classic tune about heading out on the road and not being tied down to any one place. The speaker explains to the people he meets along his travels that he won’t be around for long, saying “when it’s time for leavin’, I hope you’ll understand that I was born a ramblin’ man.” He simply tells them it is not in his nature to grow roots as he was “born in the back seat of a Greyhound bus.” He then recounts how not much has changed since he was young and that he plans to go from Nashville to New Orleans that very day as he can never keep his life in the same place for long.

  5. 5. “Travelin’ Band” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

    This American rock band established themselves in 1967 in El Cerrito, California. Members John Fogerty (lead vocalist, lead guitarist and songwriter), Tom Fogerty (rhythm guitarist), Stu Cook (bassist) and Doug Clifford (drummer) formed their own Southern rock style. At their beginning, they called themselves The Blue Velvets and mostly played covers of popular songs and instrumentals. In 1964, they signed to Fantasy Records and re-branded themselves as The Golliwogs. Though the band was excited about their big start, they had to put their plans on hold when Fogerty and Clifford received draft notices, deciding to enlist to avoid conscription. In 1968, CCR released their self-titled debut album. Although CCR is now split up, Cook and Clifford formed Creedence Clearwater Revisited, a band that dedicates itself to playing Creedence Clearwater Revival’s old tunes.   

     

    “Travelin’ Band” illustrates what life on the road looks like for rock stars. In the opening line, Fogerty sings of the “Seven Thirty-Seven coming out of the sky,” in reference to 737 airliners, which were high-tech airplane models of the time. He wants to give the audience the impression of grandeur as he tells them how he’s “flyin’ across the land.” Fogerty then describes the difficulties of constant travel as he recounts losing his baggage between flights and having to book expensive hotel rooms. As a star, Fogerty knows he has influence and privilege, but it also comes with its fair share of complications. He hears about a riot that broke out at a previous concert that resulted in the “state militia” being called. While this song seems to be just a fun bop to blast in your stereo, it actually covers a lot of the day-to-day struggles of life on the road.

  6. 6. “Ready To Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)” by Panic! At The Disco

    You’re probably pretty familiar with Panic! At The Disco, as they have only just been climbing the charts in recent years. Originally, the band formed in 2004 with members Brendon Urie, Ryan Ross, Spencer Smith and Brent Wilson, but after Smith’s departure from the band in 2015, Urie is the sole official member. Their debut album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, garnered them attention as it landed at number one on the Billboard Top Heatseekers list and sold over 10,000 copies in its first week. In the band’s present era, following the release of the 6th studio album, Pray for the Wicked, Urie performed at the fountains of Bellagio for the Stanley Cup Finals and was the headliner for the Reading and Leeds Festival.

     

    I remember first hearing this song in a Kia commercial, but it no doubt evokes the perfect feelings of adventure and excitement. The song paints the pressures of fame as they appear in the life of another person Urie directs his lyrics to. He begins by saying, “You’ve got these little things you’ve been running from. You either love them or guess you don’t.” Here, he points out this person’s want to escape and how they are coming to terms with the invasion of their personal life that is inevitable when rising to stardom. Urie means to tell them that they can either embrace the spotlight or try to run away from it. He then seems to be egging on the person to decide what they intend to do as he sings, “So tell me right now, you think you’re ready for it?” He wants them to commit fully if they plan to take this next step in their life, and clearly, Urie is ready to go.

  7. 7. “Favorite Record” by Fall Out Boy

    If you’ve heard of Panic! At The Disco, then you’ve definitely heard of Fall Out Boy. It was actually because of Pete Wentz, FOB’s frontman, that Panic! got signed to a record label. The 2001 pop-punk band formed out of Chicago, Illinois. Lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Patrick Stump is joined by bassist Pete Wentz, lead guitarist Joseph Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley to form the band’s lineup. They recorded their debut album, Take This To Your Grave in 2003 which featured hit songs “Saturday,” “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy” and “Dead on Arrival.” In 2004, they were invited to perform at Warped Tour where they gained exposure in the punk rock scene. The band really took off in 2005 upon the release of their second album, From Under the Cork Tree, which went double platinum and bore the hit singles “Sugar, We’re Going Down” and “Dance, Dance.” In 2018, Fall Out Boy released their seventh studio album, M A N I A.

     

    “Favorite Record” is a look at the nostalgic past and misadventures of friends. The song opens with the question, “Do, you do, do you remember when we drove, we drove, drove through the night and we danced, we danced, to Rancid and we danced, we danced.” The repetition of words here plays an interesting role in the memory-induced haze Wentz finds himself in. He recalls this night of confessions and dancing and can’t help but to feel in awe of all the fun they had back then. He almost seems to savor each word so that he can remember that night more vividly. At the chorus, he tells this person, “I’ll spin for you like your favorite records used to” as a way of saying that he’ll always be around them and he’ll keep trying to cheer them up, just as he did back in the good old days.

Road trips are a fun way to blow off steam and get away from the routines of life. Sometimes, the most calming thing is an open expanse of a road in front of you. Next time you head out, don’t forget your perfect playlist of roadtrippin’ tunes.

Listen to the full playlist here!