Arts and Science

Songs That Inspired My Travel


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Throughout my life, certain songs have inspired some of my travel decisions – lyrics that determined which road I should take or what travel ticket I should buy.

Here’s a selection of a few that have stood out for me over the years:

 

  • Billy Joel – ‘Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song).  As a four-year-old on a family trip at a fancy hotel, we were all sitting around the table having breakfast. I got bored and, slipping out of the sight of my parents, soon found the PA system. I somehow got the mic and belted out the only song I knew by heart – a song that’s been driving me for years. “If that’s what it’s all about, I’m moving out.” My mom choked on her eggs as she heard my voice over the hotel speakers.
  • Steve Miller – ‘Rock’n Me. One of my earliest adventures was when, as a seventeen-year-old kid, I convinced my parents that I needed to visit colleges before making a choice. I followed the itinerary in the song, tracking my way from Phoenix, Arizona, all the way to Tacoma, Philadelphia, Atlanta and L.A. in a 1973 Volkswagen bus.

    IMG_2043
    On My Way To Kathmandu
  • Willie Nelson – ‘On the Road Again. This was played at the first concert I ever went to. Willie captured something that I’ve felt at various points in my life. Even when I heard the song live for the first time I knew that there would come a time where I’d be setting off on a road trip to destination unknown.
  • Three Dog Night – ‘Never Been To Spain. Before I walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in 2012, I researched the logistics of what was involved. This song seemed to stick in my head during that period.
  • Bob Seger – ‘Katmandu. Seger really, really wanted to go here. I could see the appeal and my time there was marked by a bungee which, for a guy afraid of heights, was a leap out of my comfort zone in more ways than one.
  • Gladys Knight & The Pips – ‘Midnight Train to Georgia. In Eastern Turkey, we sang this song while trying to figure out how to get to Tbilisi. The detour through Azerbaijan was too long, so we ended up on a bus.
  • Led Zeppelin – ‘Kashmir. This song inspired me to visit the region where I spent time on a houseboat in Dal Lake. Imagine my disappointment when I found out that Led Zeppelin hadn’t actually been there – turns out Kashmir rhymes better than Morocco.
  • Murray Head – ‘One Night in Bangkok. It was only one night but all I needed. I knocked myself out on a glass door before later being shown the master penmanship from a local performer who didn’t use her hands. Sign here Miss.

What songs have inspired your travels?


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28 Comments

  • Music always accompanies my trips but it’s often generalities associated with traveling – The Beatles’ Back in the USSR, Beach Boys California Girls and M&P, California Dreamin’, Bowie’s Suffragette City and Space Oddity and the later follow up by Peter Schilling, Major Tom. Whimsy strikes me – “I ride my bike, don’t roller skate, don’t have no car,” “Fat bottom girls, you make the rocking world go round – get on your bikes and ride, fellas,” (I seem to have a bike thing happening), and Prince, Little Red Corvette. I’m geared toward the locomotion (which brings up the Dead (Trunkin’ and Casey Jones) and Arlo (City of New Orleans) and Grand Funk (Do the locomotion, which isn’t about traveling)). But I often think, too, of the road vagabonds in Me and Bobby McGee.

    Fun post. Thanks, dude.

  • I hit the post button too fast. After going off and painting the bathroom trim, I remembered several ‘destination’ songs. When visiting Dad in San Antonio, I always sing Stevie Ray Vaughn’s version of Texas Flood but also Chris Rhea’s Texas. Visiting Mom in Pennsylvania summons Pennsylvania 6,5,0,0,0. Hit Chicago and I’m singing Sweet Home, Chicago. The City by the Bay in SF is always accompanied by the Journey song or Tony Bennett. And of course, for New York…well, New York, New York….

  • Off the top of my head it would be ‘Sweet Caroline’ my brother sang it in the middle of battling crazy rapids in his kayak 🙂 I always think of him when I hear it oddly enough when I was going through chemo he told me that the song reminded him of me

  • anything BOB MARLEY but especially coming in from the cold — after leaving Jamaica to the east coast USA and I think I wld travel to Canada to see Drake and Celine…just to say I did 🙂 great post

  • ..oops wasn’t finished…Incubus vsong..I ended up floating on the Ganges (Ganga) Indian Holy River..like the song..leaving the past behind me…thanks for sharing

  • Not yet travel rd extensively buy I guess in my mind I do. And you have not all do for me. So let’s right now : I am into ‘When I First Saw You’ by Mariah Carey.

  • For most part it seems that my ‘travel songs’ aren’t per definition my favourite ones but instead affiliated with specific memories (pre-, during, or post travelling) that I cherish. One song being ‘Steve Harley – Make me smile (Come up and see me)’ because it was always played at home by my parents when I was a teenager and about to head off out travelling (hitch hiking as a matter of fact, it was different back then I guess!) with my girlfriends. It quickly became our theme song before, during and after travelling. Beautifully encapsulating many fantastic memories! A second song is ‘The Proclaimers – 500 miles’, I know, a bit done so to speak, but it holds the best memories of a farewell meet up in my favourite pub in London before I was heading off to India and the Nicobar islands for half a year. To be sat among my friends, laughing, reminiscing when all of a sudden ‘500 miles’ come on and I notice one of my best friends (whom is waiting in line for the loo’s) burst into the most ecstatic and carefree dance ever, it totally made my day. It made all my days. And it most certainly made that song one of my favourite pre-travelling ‘get in the right state of mind’ kind of songs, and it still brings a huge smile to my face. x

  • I’m three weeks into a year long trip around the world and I genuinely sing ‘On the Road Again’ almost every time I hop into the car or onto a bus, even if it’s only those four words, I can’t help myself!

  • Brilliant, havn’t heard many just had a listen to ‘One night in Bangkok’ added to my playlist ready the journey to the big city.

  • I love travel songs, road trip songs and anything that inspires wonderment and adventure. It’s exciting to see someone living that dream. Onward!

  • I don’t think I’ve done enough travelling to have a playlist that actually has memories attached. However, I do have a dream playlist I hope to use when my girlfriend and I go for our adventure cruising down Route 66 and beyond. This was a really fun post though!

  • Great post! So many great songs! My favorite traveling song is ‘Ramblin’ Man’ by the Allman Brothers. love it!

  • I love getting new CDs where I travel. There were some great Arabic house CDs when I lived there. You have to buy some Zydeco music in Cajun Louisiana! ⚜

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