Art is how we decorate space, music is how we decorate time." -Jean-Michel Basquiat
Maybe it’s a sign of my impending middle-age, but I don’t typically start posts with quotes; I prefer to find my own words. Yet, I’d like to add that the road trip playlist decorates both time and space. All my life, songs have become inextricably linked with moving landscapes and I can go back to different albums and see the mountains or the prairie in my mind’s eye because the songs followed me around the world. I am transported back to my adolescence driving between Kansas City and Denver, or to the summer I spent living in Amsterdam finding solace in familiar songs even when I felt lonely and out of my depth, or strutting through Harvard Square while listening to Daft Punk shortly before slipping on a leaf and rolling my ankle.
Since 2014, I have collected “Those Songs” that have followed me throughout the year. I find them in cafes and between sets at concerts. They are in the background of TV shows or rediscovered when shuffled through the random rips and downloads I’ve been collecting since I was 14. They are the ear worms that hook me during a hike and lock into something emotional that name feelings that I wasn’t always aware of. Shazam is my Virgil helping me identify the artists and the songs that add texture to my experience.
I begin and end my playlists in June. I suppose this is a holdover from being a student and then a teacher, but endings and beginnings will probably always be associated with the American academic school year. This timeline also has the benefit of early summer concerts that provide a solid foundation of songs that play on repeat during summer road trips. Over the years, these playlists have become time capsules of both my tastes and my travels and listening to them is like visiting with old friends and sharing memories.
June is done, and so is the playlist for 2022-2023. It began in Alaska after I left Fountain Valley and was gathered across 34 states and 2 countries. It has been to the southernmost point in the Lower 48 (Key West) and the northwesternmost point (Olympic Peninsula) and all the miles in between. It is eclectic, it is random, and it was me last year. I know posts like these are self-indulgent, but if you are reading this, then chances are you like to indulge me too. So here it is. Enjoy!