Optimising travel with music

Whenever we hire a car for our adventures we take a host of CDs for the journey. This has meant that several holiday memories can be recalled simply by playing a CD on our return home. I love the evocative memories that a piece of music can bring – it can take me back to mountain passes, paint precious vistas in my mind and relive several great experiences of our life on the road / ocean / air.

In a similar vein, we always try our best to experience local / regional music of the places we visit  – and bring some of it back home to keep our holiday memories alive.

Here are some of our favourites – both music to travel too and music we have discovered on our travels;

  1. Paul Simon’s Graceland quickly became the soundtrack to our self drive around Costa Rica. Played on large journeys, we’d whack up the volume of the CD player in our ancient battered and bruised Mitsubishi 4×4 and sing along to ‘Call me Al’ and ‘Graceland’ at the top of our voices. As we travelled across mountain passes, through tiny villages and along dusty deserted roads we’d bounce along with Paul. It was the perfect jubilant sing along that seemed quite fitting for the adventure. We’d wave to locals mid-song, sing to the worst of our ability with windows wide open and enjoy the refreshing breeze in the humid car. Perfect! Since our return we’ve played it a lot and renamed Graceland ‘Costa Rica Music
  2. On our American Road trips we decided to fall victim to the ‘traditional’ American rock / road music and plumped for old school drive time hits like Springsteen, Aretha Franklin, Survivor, Queen, The Police, The Beach Boys et al. Any of these artists take me back to Route 66, desolated gas stations and desert roads across Serra Nevada. These artists accompanied us through bush fires towards the Grand Canyon, across Death Valley, through Yosemite and onto San Francisco where we cruised the crazy rush hour traffic to ‘Eye of the Tiger’.
  3. When on our first visit to Kenya we were introduced to The Safari Sound Band’ through the song ‘Jambo’ (Hello /Hakuna Matata… welcome) which was sung to us as a welcome at many a lodge, shop, restaurant and hotel. This song, alongside the chorus of ‘Jambo’s’ shouted by locals as we drove by, became the soundtrack to the holiday and I was delighted to discover the CD at Mombasa airport – it has become a firm favourite on my playlist since 2004.         …When we had the pleasure of visiting Kenya again in 2009 I was delighted to see the tradition continued. My face would light up at the mere sound of this song starting. I’d sing along (badly) with glee in the bar of the Mara Safari Club each evening with sundowners, sharing my love of the song with staff. So much so, that on our last evening there, the entire staff turned up at our table with a cake to sing this and other African songs to us. I cried into my cake, the icing went soggy and I realised this was a country I loved more than any other – it broke my heart to leave it. I’m just thankful that I have songs like these to help me re-live these memories and take me back to my soul-land. My favourite song ‘Jambo’ is on YouTube.
  4. On our visit to Norway in 2006 we stumbled across a street band playing make-shift steel drums in Oslo town centre. With my parents we stood, enraptured, listening to this beautiful metallic music. We could not resist the urge to purchase a CD as a keepsake and reminder of this moment. If you’re interested in seeking out the band, they are called Rhythm of the Hung. I cannot seem to find a website for them – but if you come across them be sure to check them out.
  5.  Whilst on an Arctic voyage we had the rare and unexpected treat of being introduced to a range of Arctic and traditional musicians. My favourite, by all accounts was Jim Payne. A folk singer from NewFoundland who regaled us with two fantastic evenings of folk songs onboard the MS Expedition. He was one of the expedition staff on the ship and a great fun guy to be with / around, not to mention a cracking musician. His sea shanties had me singing from Svalbard to Reykjavik and many a day since. He lives primarily in my mind not only as an inspirational musician, but also as the guy who offered to ‘drown’ in a bowl of ice cold water on board to demonstrate how sea mammals breathe 🙂  He very kindly permitted us to video his second performance on board the MS Expedition, and every opportunity since then I have played his music as loud as possible every Friday night. There is nothing like a good sea shanty at the end of a hard week to remind you of greater and grander places – of a natural wonder that captured your heart and to which you long to return. We have introduced his music to family and friends and I urge you all to look him up. His songs’ Wave over Wave’ and ‘Ballard for Sweet Hannah Grey’ are among two of the most powerful that never fail to cause me to sing along and cry in equal measure.  I highly recommend you to check out his SingSong Inc website and YouTube for videos / footage.
  6. Whilst in Greenland we were introduced to the music of Rasmus Lyberth, a wonderful and powerful folk singer from Greenland whose music stuck with me from the first time I heard it onboard the MS Expedition. We had barely docked for 12 hours in Reykjavik when we’d logged onto Amazon to purchase a CD so it would be awaiting for us on our return home. It was not a disappointment – largely because we’d purchased (by mistake) a Christmas Carol CD which has now become a staple for our CD player every December. What better memory at Christmas than being transported to memories of frozen and bewildering Greenland 🙂
  7. Whilst in Greenland we took the opportunity to visit a village and, whilst there, noticed a pile of CDs for sale in the local store. Not able to translate the Greenlandic, we scooped up a handful, bought them regardless and as a result have been introduced to some amazing Greenlandic bands we’d otherwise never hear of.
Where-ever we travel, we try and take the opportunity to bring some of the local music home. It helps to keep your travels alive 😉

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.