Friday, November 21, 2008

Let's Make Some Sweet Music Together

The past few weeks I've been trying to get all of my ducks in a row before I move out to Denver at the end of the year.

I think I have a pretty good route mapped out. I'm going to drive to Roanoke, VA on the 27th of December and stay with my family there. On Sunday the 28th, I'm going to drive 10 hours to St.Louis, and I haven't totally decided but I'm either going to try to make it the 13 hours to Denver on the 29th or break it up and stay in Topeka that night and then get into Colorado on the 30th.

Topeka don't want none of me, I will tear that town up!

Fortunately, I have a powerful motivating factor to get me out there in a timely manner - my Girlfriend is flying into Denver on the 30th and is going to be out there for almost two weeks to help me get set up and on my feet (we will be staying with the very gracious family that let us stay with them back in May).

I can't tell you how huge that will be to have her out there with me. That should prevent any freakouts or knee jerk reactions to run back home when I haven't landed a job within the first 48 hours of being there.

I'm not really taking any furniture (the family out there has a finished and furnished basement) so I'm just going to be packing up my clothes and a few other key essentials in my car. I've also been trying to knock out all the other unexpected details that sneak up whenever you're trying to move, and I think I've been doing a good job staying on top of everything... so far.

But it hit me the other day that I've neglected the most important issue when it comes to making a cross-country road trip.

The music.

You don't want to be stuck in the Middle of Nowhere, Kansas with bad tunes - believe me, I know from experience.

Sure, I have my own personal CD collection (I will be adding the new Killers album "Day and Age" to my collection on Tuesday!) that can get the job done but I think a trip like this calls for an epic mix.

That's where you come in.

I've been making a list of songs I want to add to the "Destination: Denver" mix CD but I have now decided that I want to expand the playlist beyond my own taste. I'm looking for legitimate song suggestions from all of my family and friends and people I don't even know to add to the ultimate road trip CD.

Here are the only two criteria:

1. Song suggestions have to be road-trip worthy (nothing slow, I'm gonna to need something to keep me going when I've been driving for 8-10 hours a day).

2. I need a reason (don't just offer up a song because it's a classic road-trip tune. Give me a personal story behind it, or tell me that it will remind me of you, or something. Lie to me if you have to).

That's it. That's all I'm looking for.

After I get a good list of suggestions, I'll post them and then you all can help me put them in order (what good are quality songs if they're not in the right order? I'm talking to you, Viva La Vida!).

You can either email me your suggestions or post them in the comment section below (to the bottom right of THIS entry it says "comments" - it will show many comments have been made so far - just click on that link and submit your ideas. PLEASE NOTE - you don't have to have a google gmail account or anything like that to leave a comment. I've set it up so anyone can post, just be sure to leave your name).

I'm looking forward to hearing from all of you on this and making some sweet music together.


Kevin said...

Kelly Clarkson and Boys II Men..and Chicago! You know we have jammed out to all of these on many of roadtrips.

Just Being Josh said...

*Just got this email from my buddy Sam V... Unbelievable response! I told him to burn me this CD and I will call it the "Sam Got Me to Denver" CD. Great stuff man...

Don't be afraid of some slower tunes. You'll need some change-ups to go with the fastballs. If not, you'll have blown your load 4 hours into the trip. Here are a few suggestions. Most of these songs are amazing and deeply personal, others are just great driving songs. I'll leave it up to you to decide what's what. If you can't tell by this list, I love doing this stuff. I can put these on a disk if you want.

Is There a Ghost- Band of Horses (Cease to Begin)- Very simple tune, but a great up-tempo song.

Sloop John B- Beach Boys (Pet Sounds)- This song is a classic. It'll be in your head for days.

Like a Rolling Stone- Bob Dylan (Highway 61 Revisited)- No roadtrip/life changing experience is complete without this song.

Glory Days- Bruce Springsteen (Born in the USA)- Classic. You are driving across need the Boss.

Lost!- Coldplay (Viva La Vida)- Great jam in the same vein as U2's "I Still Haven't Found..."

Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors- Editors (An End Has a Start)- Uplifting track. Similar to Coldplay/U2.

Pump it Up- Elvis Costello (This Year's Model)- The man is a genius and my hero.

A Praise Chorus- Jimmy Eat World (Bleed American)- One of my favorite bands

Lucky Denver Mint- Jimmy Eat World (Clarity)- Moving to Denver???? Amazing song. BTW...this album changed my life.

Molly's Chamber- Kings of Leon (Youth and Young Manhood)- A good, raw, shit-kicker of a song.

To the Sky- Maps (We Can Create)- A great song for this time in your life. Lyrics are amazing.

The World at Large- Modest Mouse (Good News for People Who Love Bad News)- Sure it's slow. But it's great! It'll make you think.

Gideon- My Morning Jacket (Z)- One of my favorite songs from (possibly) the best band around...

Who's Authority- Nada Surf (Lucky)- Power/pop gem. Just listen to it.

The Boy in The Bubble- Paul Simon (Graceland)- Amazing song off of my favorite album of all time.

Graceland- Paul Simon (Graceland)- See above.

For Nancy- Pete Yorn (Music for the Morning After)- Great driving song.

Where is my Mind?- the Pixies (Surfer Rosa)- This song makes me feel high. I don't need drugs, just this song.

What's the Frequency Kenneth?- REM (Monster)- It's REM.

The National Anthem- Radiohead (Kid A)- You will start shaking your ass when this song comes on.

Karma Police- Radiohead (OK Computer)- It's Radiohead. You need Radiohead.

To Be Young (is to be sad, is to be high)- Ryan Adams (Heartbreaker)- My hero. This is forever a part of the soundtrack to my life.

New York, New York- Ryan Adams (Gold)- This song is America.

Sister Jack- Spoon (Gimme Fiction)- A great, up-beat jam.

Learning to Fly- Tom Petty (Into the Great Wide Open)- Another classic. You need this. Trust me.

Beautiful Day- U2 (All That You Can't Leave Behind)- The album title says it all. And it's U2.

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For- U2 (Joshua Tree)- No explanation needed.

Pride (In the name of Love)- U2 (The Unforgettable Fire)- If there was ever a song written for a road-trip, this is it.

Right Hand on My Heart- The Whigs (Mission Control)- One of my favorite songs right now. Another shit-kicker.



Just Being Josh said...

*Wow, I just got another epic response from Virginian-Pilot lifestyle columnist Mike Gruss. Here are his thoughts:

The classic road trip song…

One of the best things about music is that it can instantly recall a memory or a feeling from the past.
For a long time, I did not believe in the quintessential road trip song. I found it too cliché mostly because 90 percent of all roadtrip mixes included “Life is a Highway” and “Born to Run.” (See “The Office.”) No matter how fitting they might be, I did not want to ride it all night long.

But it is impossible and uncreative (not to mention no fun) to dismiss the genre as a whole.

In college when gas was about $1 a gallon and before burnable CDs, my friend Susan loved spending the afternoon going for a drive. For years, one of my favorite pictures was one she took from the dashboard of my car that showed the cornfields of southwestern Ohio. She assembled great road-trip tapes to accompany.

When I drove solo from Ohio to Chicago in the summer of 1998, it was the start of an incredible and eye-opening adventure for a kid who had grown up in the suburbs. My first gig at a newspaper. My first apartment. All that stuff. I popped in one of Susan’s tapes before I left. The first song: “Learning to Fly” by Tom Petty.

Grant me, a little slack here.

“Well I started out down a dirty road/Started out all alone/And the sun went down as I crossed the hill/The town lit up the world got still”

Yup. All those things were true.

“Well some say life will beat you down/Break your heart, steal your crown/So I started out for God knows where/But I guess I’ll know when I get there”

Yup. Yup. Yup. True. True. True.

I can’t help but think this would be a fitting start to your own trek. But I’m not convinced. Besides, out at the bar the other night, one of my friends told a story where the punchline was “If Tom Petty was on the radio, I suppose I wouldn’t turn it off.” Yes, everyone in the world loves Tom Petty. So he can’t be the artist of choice for this question.

Another story.

In 2002, I took a solo roadtrip from Indiana to Pittsburgh for a friend’s wedding. I listened to two CDs and two CDs only on non-stop repeat. They were Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” and Beck’s “Sea Change.” Because of the events of that trip, it became clearer than it had been in the past, I was an adult. And because we often look for meaning where there is none, I kept listening. In particular, the best song of YHF, and honestly one of the best songs of all times is “Jesus, etc.”

“Don't cry/You can rely on me honey/You can come by any time you want/I'll be around/You were right about the stars/Each one is a setting sun”

But. … eh … I’m not sure this makes the cut either.

If I was bringing just one album, I would probably bring “For Emma, Forever Ago” by Bon Iver. Although my desert island album is “Yield” by Pearl Jam. But the question you asked requires just one song.

Others to consider:

“Off He Goes” by Pearl Jam. I could quote the entire song, but read the lyrics here:

“The Ballad of Love and Hate” by The Avett Brothers. Lyrics here:

But slow songs are banned with Kansas being Kansas.

So, drumroll please, the song I chose is “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem.

(Actually I prefer, the version of this song sung by Franz Ferdinand)
Thematically, this song is similar to “The Rat” by The Walkmen. (When I used to go out, I would know everyone that I saw/Now I go out alone if I go out at all/When I used to go out I'd know everyone I saw/Now I go out alone if I go out at all”)

“All My Friends” is a song about trying to grow up too fast. It is a song about making the right choices in life. It is about always being able to go home. Most importantly, it is about knowing that your friends will always be with you.

I love the site (LOVE. IT.) A commenter on there named ‘Douchebag” (ironic?) writes: I believe this song is about how it feels after you realize you're no longer a young person and you gradually fall into being an adult. The guy is looking at life through the eyes of an adult and realizing some decisions he makes are immature, but he doesn't necissarily care. At the same time looking back at how he got to where he is now and wondering if it was right. Or maybe this is how I feel right now and I'm warping the song to fit how I feel. ?”

From another commenter: “So it's fairly straightforward that the song is a retrospective on the rock 'n roll lifestyle and whether it was worth it and what was actually gained from it. What I liked most about it was the monotony of the keyboard and bass line mimicking a life that just goes on and on, regardless of how tired one gets of it, or how oblivious one is to time's passage. It's as if the melody represents the same repetitive tasks of life: sleep, breathe, do the damn thing, etc. But what the hell do I know? I drunkenly cried myself to sleep over this song the other night.”

And another: “I think this is not about someone reaching adulthood, but rather someone looking back upon when they were emerging adults. This song is reflecting about what it was like to reach adulthood, "get with the plan", and then realize that you might not want the plan. You might not want to spend every minute with your partner. And you might want to spend time with your friends. That's not to say that you don't like the life you have. The lines- "Then it's the memory of our betters / that are keeping us on our feet" suggests that you are still motivated by the life you have with your partner. But at the same time, you miss the energy, stupidness, and freedom of your younger days. And although you are "showing your age", you still want to have those late nights.”

Fast-paced? Check. Strong lyrics? Check. Thoughtful? Check. Better than looking out the window? Check. Worth playing multiple times? Check.

Download it.

More importantly, safe travels and best of luck.


Ross Costanza said...

Joshua Mahler, i urge you to go here:

you will see my list for you. I specifically made a mix as your wingman one month ago :) I don't do much throwback music often, but im sure you'll find something to enjoy in there :)

Also, if you can...add to your list of recommended sites. Much appreciation!

Just Being Josh said...

*It's done Ross!

Also, I just got the following back from Sam in response to Mike's song submission:

LCD Soundsystem's album "Sound of Silver" was one of my favorite albums of last year, and "All My Friends" is an amazing track (I'm actually listening to it right now). Great choice!

Also, I am adding the song "Such Great Heights" by the Postal Service to the list. It's necessary.

Anonymous said...

Bro... check out Ben Folds, The Killers, Dropkick Murpheys, Phantom Planet, and Deathcab for a Cutie... Have a safe trip...