Every month we choose a theme paired with one of our #ontheroad Instagram locations and choose some of our favorite tracks, giving you a music-inspired playlist meant to inspire a little wanderlust.
Last week we hit up the island of Reunion and this week we’re in Cabo, and in celebration of getting a little sun and waves in around the time of spring break, we figured a tropical inspired playlist was just what we needed. We’re calling it “Tropical Beats and Rhythms Even If You’re Not on Spring Break,” because everyone could use a little warm weather inspired music, whether it’s vacation time or not. Enjoy!
Even when we can’t travel, we can escape to other worlds thanks to music. Be it samba from Brazil or a good new indie dance band from France, music has the power to transport us no matter where we are – which is why we’re happy to bring you our new monthly playlist series.
Every month we’ll choose a theme, paired with one of our #ontheroad Instagram locations, and choose some of our favorite tracks, giving you a music-inspired playlist meant to inspire a little wanderlust.
This week we’re in Spain, so we’re bringing you Viva La Flamenco, a playlist full of Spanish flavor. Not all the songs are necessarily by Spanish artists, and not all of them are traditional flamenco songs, but it’s a playlist meant to put you in a Spanish mood, ready to dance, dream of tapas in a plaza and feel a little more upbeat.
Has science or popular culture coined a term for the phenomenon of the random playing of a song that perfectly describes a travel situation or mood? Probably. But whatever it is or isn’t called, this scenario is something that, once in a great while, happens to all of us when we’re traveling.
I’m not talking about favorite road trip songs or music you queue up to fit the destination. Allow me to provide you with three key examples from my own experience. Note that sometimes it’s not so much the meaning of the song, but its title.
Exhibit A: My college boyfriend, and first love, had just dumped me, and I was despondent. A good friend had invited me to seek refuge at his family’s gorgeous homestead in Santa Cruz; as I tooled up Highway 101, I felt hopeful for the first time in weeks. Dusk fell, and I approached the wooded exit for my friend’s house, when Temple of the Dog’s “Say Hello to Heaven” came on. I literally had to pull over, I was so blown. As a side note, shortly before we broke up, my ex and I were driving to a concert, and Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell” played. Hmmm.
Exhibit B: One year later, I made the colossal decision to leave a stagnant life earning minimum wage in California, and go to culinary school in Vail, Colorado. No sooner had I crossed the LA County line when X’s “Los Angeles (She had to leave/Los Angeles)” blasted from my radio.
Exhibit C: Five days later, I descended the steep pass into Vail, gaping at the slender waterfalls cascading onto the valley floor. “Follow Your Bliss” by the B-52’s began to play. To this day, I’ve never felt so much certainty about a life choice. That year in Vail was incredible, and ultimately, led to a career in food and travel writing.
I asked my fellow Gadlingers what songs define travel moments for them, and their answers were all over the (ahem) map. For more on Pam Mandel’s exile in not-quite post-Soviet Leningrad and Robin Whitney’s quest for a fresh start, read on after the jump:Pam Mandel:“Hotel California.” Just click on the link; you’ll be glad you did.
Jessica Marati: “Under Pressure,” by David Bowie, while walking the streets of New York City.
Robin Whitney: I’d been eyeing a move to California for some time, but everyone in Chicago would tell me awful stories about the “fakeness” of LA, or some other negative opinion about how sick I’d get of the good weather [Laurel here. As a recent refugee of Seattle, I find it hard to believe these Chicagoans actually love their climate. Sun: Good. Gray, cold and wind: Bad.] and, in their words, “lack of culture.”
In late April, I was visiting my brother in North Hollywood, stuck in epic traffic, and feeling defeated. Then a preview of Best Coast’s new CD came on, featuring “The Only Place (Why would you live anywhere else/We’ve got the ocean, got the babes/Got the sun, we’ve got the waves).” It lifted my spirits instantly, and I decided I deserve a year of exploring a new city, so I’ll be looking at apartments soon.
Sean McLachlan: My first solo road trip was also my first cross-country trip. I was driving across the Sonora Desert, when Blue Oyster Cult’s “Last Days of May” came on (Parched land no desert sand/Sun was just a dot/And a little bit of water goes a long way, ’cause it’s hot/Three good buddies were laughing and smoking in the back/Of a rented ford/They couldn’t know they weren’t going far). If you read all the lyrics to the song, you’ll learn why it likely made an impression on young Sean.
Melanie Renzulli: Just about every time I drive into New York, “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z starts to play. I’ll also always associate Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” with the first time I visited Germany, because it was playing in the shuttle on the way to ground transportation in Frankfurt. I was an exchange student, it was my first trip overseas, and Springsteen was on? It blew my mind.
Got any defining travel song moments? Share them with us!
[Photo credits: Paris With Love, Flickr user Epiclectic; Hotel California, Flickr user saguayo]
This is the latest sign of growing normalcy in the battered capital. Traffic cops have returned to the streets, the markets are thriving and there are now regular commercial flights to Somalia from Turkey.
The theatre closed in the early ’90s when Somalia spiraled into civil war. With rival clans fighting over every block, going to the theatre wasn’t a big priority. Al-Shabab certainly didn’t try to reopen it during their brief control of Mogadishu. The Islamist terrorist group banned all public entertainment as well as Western music, foreign food aid and bras.
Now Al-Shabab is on the defensive, being attacked on several fronts by the Transitional Federal Government, the African Union, Kenya and Ethiopia. This has allowed a period of relative peace in Mogadishu, although bombings do still occur. Somalis have been quick to rebuild and the theatre is the latest sign of renewed life.
The Somali National Theatre celebrated its reopening by entertaining an audience of about 1,000 with a night of music, drama and comedy. That’s right, comedy. The fact that Somalis are laughing is a good sign. Who knows, perhaps tourism will be next!
As further proof that absolutely everything ends up on YouTube, here’s a clip of a concert at the Somali National Theatre in the 1980s. It’s obviously transferred from an old VHS tape, so the quality isn’t the best, but how often do you get to see something like this?
One of the best gifts travel gives you is all the great music you wouldn’t otherwise hear. Strange tunes often stick in the mind long after the memories of meals and sights have dimmed. Last week I brought you a video of a kalimba player in Malawi. Here’s a completely different tune from a completely different country, yet both tunes have gotten into my head.
This man is a sadhu, one of the countless Hindu holy men who wander the city streets and country roads of India preaching the tenets of Hinduism. He’s playing by the Ganges River in Varanasi, one of the holiest spots for Hindus. Watch how he plays two instruments and sings with ease. The camera is a bit shaky at the beginning but gets much better. Does anyone know what he’s singing?