As I looked out the library window this afternoon, listening to music and staring gloomily into the endless blizzard that is Wisconsin, I suddenly felt inspired to make a Top 5 list – songs for running away, the soundtrack to wanderlust, tunes for traveling on:
1. Small Sins – “All will be fine”
Picture this: it’s five in the morning, the alarm is buzzing to tell you to go shower and put on a tie, while rays of early orange sunlight are peeking through the blinds. Standing in nothing but a pit-stained v-neck undershirt holding a mug of black coffee, you decide today is that day – you’re not going back to work. You’re leaving town, the state, maybe the country…throw on a hoodie and grab the flip flops, it’s time for a journey.
“All will be fine” is this early morning, on-the-road anthem – the softness of the steady beat steps up your heart’s rhythm and gets you swaying your head, while rocky riffs encourage air guitar. Singer Thomas D’arcy tells you to “change your lover, move to New York,” and comforts with a sweetly melancholy voice reinforcing that “all will be fine.”
2. Ratatat – “Nostrand”
You’re on the freeway now with the windows down, and the sun rises as this track fades in with the rhythm of rolling wheels. The bass line is heavy – you feel like driving slow for a minute and taking in the view – but then the guitars just start shreddin’ ROUGH! A neon soundscape unfolds in a blur with epic intertwining electric guitar melodies, as technotronic tones signal in the background. You wish you had longer locks for dramatic headbanging. The song makes the pedal feel a bit heavier as the tires gobble up the pavement towards your undecided oblivion.
3. Le Tigre – “My Metrocard”
Let’s imagine you’ve ditched the car in the Amtrak parking lot (it’s better for the environment anyway), ’cause this is train riding music. Le Tigre’s ladies shout over this frenetic track the virtues of their New York City subway card, and don’t know what stop they’ll get off at: “My My Metrocard / Think I’ll go a little / But then I go far/ NEXT STOP / Atlantic Avenue / NEXT STOP…”
4. Trans Am – “Run with Me”
The lead singer actually starts out this song huffing and puffing over a furiously pumping kick beat and zipping synth riffs; it’s no time to stop now. Wherever you are, this track will make you want to sprint – which is good, cause that’s the idea here. You’ve got to catch that bus or that plane, you’ve got to hustle towards the destination. This track shoots up adrenaline for the journey while evoking the energy of movement and the whiplash transformation from static to dynamic.
5. Walkmen – “Good for you is good for me”
You sink your toes into the sand and sip a beer as the sun sets in your new time zone. But it’s not a marker of the end of your journey – it’s a fresh page. Streaks of purple and pink against the halcyon blue are the burning fireworks of dusk, and this is the song of their finale. Guitars reverberate in melodic dischord as the colors blur into starry black, and you feel drained of cares. Singer Hamilton Leithauser half slurs, half yells: “And the sun was shinin’ / never so invitin’,” and you know exactly what he means.