Slash flies Northwest/Delta

One of the few advantages to being in an airplane almost every weekend is that sooner or later, you run into someone famous. That’s what happened last night on my way back from Los Angeles, where boarding my 757 I was pushed out of the way by an eager flight attendant carrying two guitar cases labeled “Slash.” As I pointed them out, one guy next to me suggested that the real Slash was probably on a private jet somewhere, so I boarded and turned to 5A without much further thought.

Sure enough, right before departure the guitar player from Guns n Roses and Velvet Revolver darted onto the plane and into the first class seat right behind me, 6A. I poked the dentist next to me and gestured over my shoulder — “Slash.” She didn’t follow, so I pulled it up on my iPhone and pointed again. That perked her up.

Over the course of the redeye flight I slept most of the way, and only wandered by a few times to see Slash playing with his own iPhone and drumming on my seat. Other than that he was really friendly and gabbed with the guy next to him for a quite some time.

After learning my lesson for taking a picture of Michael Phelps without permission last year, I decided to ask for a photo this time, and Slash was kind enough to pose with my seatmate, the dentist, in the boarding area just outside of the jetbridge.

In case you’re curious, that strap on his left shoulder is for his hat box, which he carried with him throughout journey .

Why you’ll still be able to find the new Guns and Roses album in China

Yes, I will put a shamed expression on my face and admit that I felt a bit of excitement when I heard that Guns and Roses was releasing a new album. Come on, I was an awkward, pimple-ridden junior high-schooler when Axl and Slash were still at the top of their game. I thought that they were the shit.

Well, the new album, which was actually made by Axl Rose and a bunch of session musicians, is less than mediocre. But when I heard that Chinese authorities were critisizing it because of its content and about to ban it, I had to laugh. Not because the government was taking a bunch of has-beens so seriously, but because I know that if I walked into a Shenzhen bootleg CD shop right now, I’d have a pretty good chance of finding a copy of the album. The same goes for pirated versions of controversial books and DVDs. I don’t have the official numbers, but I’d wager that over 85% of the music and movies sold in China are bootlegged. So your hip Shanghai record store might not have G&R, but the bootleggers probably will.

The sounds of travel: What to listen to when road trippin’ in the USA

Here at Gadling we’ll be highlighting some of our favorite sounds from the road and giving you a sample of each — maybe you’ll find the same inspiration that we did, but at the very least, hopefully you’ll think that they’re good songs. Got a favorite of your own? Leave it in the comments below and we’ll post it at the end of the series.

“Do you like American music?
I like American music.
Don’t you like American music?

–The Violent Femmes, American Music

For those who are gearing up to travel the vast roadways of America by car, we have here a list of appropriate music to make you feel relaxed, at peace with the road, and good’n American. Though you may be traveling for the holidays, we’ll exclude holiday music. You’ll hear it at every gas station.

The obvious first choice for pulling out of the driveway is America by Simon and Garfunkel:

Even the street on which you live looks a little more ripe with possibility when that song plays.

Once you head out into the amber waves of grain and the fruited plains, it’s a great time for expansive music like that from accidentally Canadian Joni Mitchell. I recommend Urge for Going, Heijira, and You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio. And those are just a couple of her travel-themed hits.

Going through the purple mountains’ majesty? Forests? (Yeah, “America the Beautiful” totally skipped the forests.) Try the soundtrack to Field of Dreams, composed by James Horner. It will fill you with wonder. Here, watch somebody on YouTube play The Drive Home. Want lyrics?

Next, get out some Bob Dylan and play Tangled Up in Blue. Make sure you dig through your classic rock collection. Especially as you pass through strange towns and cities, The Eagles, Guns and Roses, Jimi Hendrix, and Journey all take on a strange, retro-poignance.

Lastly, though it’s downright un-American, The Beatles are great for road trips. Everyone sings along, and if you’re really up in arms about the Britishness, you can get the soundtrack to Across the Universe with all the new covers.

Drive safe!

Click here for previous Sounds of Travel.