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Summer Road Music

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Summer Road Music

We spend a lot of time in our mini-van “Susie 3”, a no-brainer name given Susie and Susie 2 went before her. Susie, our first car, was a maroon ’88 Honda Accord we bought after knowing one another a whole 10 months (Robin and I, we didn’t court Susie). She gave two 19 year old vagabonds 230,000 miles of love before, sadly, someone shattered her window and ripped out her heart (car stereo).

While I look back 15 years with rosy colored glasses – in a Pollyanna mind-frame at 30 hour-at-a-clip cross-country treks with two dogs breathing down our necks, constant fear of over-heating, no air conditioning, and a drivers window that didn’t work – I’m quite happy with our current method of traveling. 3,000 miles in two weeks with two kids to visit every corner of Wisconsin. Which is how we just spent the last 14 days.

Road Trip

The modern convenience of headphones in the backseat for the kids that allows for full parental music listening pleasure in the front, would have saved many a station wagon from the side of the road while making summer pilgrimages to State parks. “Don’t make me pull this car over!” is a thing of the past, I don’t dream of pulling anything over, if anything, I’m pushing bladder and gas limits to get where we’re going, while staying that “safe 9″ above.


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Long drives are a good time to focus on music without interruption. Of course, there are times I have to check that the kids aren’t taking an “ear break” from their headphones. You already know how I feel about the Gangnam style, but generally after hour four they’re drooling at the screen and we’re following our caffeine levels with music.

One of my favorite traveling songs is “Dramamine” by Modest Mouse, coincidentally on their album “This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About”. It screams highway hypnosis and sounds better in the car than anywhere else.

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So, without further ado, here is my list of Top 5 Traveling Albums rated by amount of caffeine in your system:


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The List

  • “Lonesome Crowded West” Modest Mouse – High Caffeine
  • “I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning” The Bright Eyes – Coming Down Off Caffeine
  • “Blonde on Blonde” or “Blood On The Tracks” Bob Dylan – No Caffeine
  • “Kill The Moonlight” Spoon – Needing Caffeine
  • “Green Mind” Dinosaur Jr. (Nostalgia) – No track of Caffeine levels

So, wherever you may be going, in whatever method of transportation you prefer, whether those distances are short or long, enjoy the sounds of the road.

What are your favorite traveling albums, songs or Pandora stations?


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View Comments (7)
  • It depends on the company.

    Probably my single favorite album of all time is Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos, but that’s not very family-friendly. I’ve traveled with, and immensely enjoyed, it before.

    Last time I traveled solo I seriously dug Queen’s Hot Space, which contains perhaps my favorite Queen song ever, “Dancer.”

    With the boys I’d probably go with Kiss Alive! (still perhaps not family-friendly, depending on your lines, but we’re OK with it) or any number of compilations we’ve assembled, which tend to include everything from stadium rock to ’80s new wave.

  • Hey Bo. Little Earthquakes is a great one, perhaps “settled into caffeine buzz calmness at about 9 at night” kind of rating. It’s necessary the album carries all the way through – jumping from song to song is for the “3 Red Bull” types 🙂

    I’m hoping face make-up makes its way into your longer trips – gas station stops would be that much better.

  • Hey Bo. Little Earthquakes is a great one, perhaps “settled into caffeine buzz calmness at about 9 at night” kind of rating. It’s necessary the album carries all the way through – jumping from song to song is for the “3 Red Bull” types 🙂

    I’m hoping face make-up makes its way into your longer trips – gas station stops would be that much better.

    And, Queen is a band that I’ve had an aversion to due to a certain mean spirited kid from my youth who loved them – I may have to see what I’ve been missing, aside from the radio play classics one can’t avoid.

    • Definitely agree on Little Earthquakes straight through. It feels splintered otherwise.

      I’ve had Kiss paint on a time or two, but I’m pretty purposeful on the road. If it doesn’t help me get to the beach, it’s not making the cut. 🙂

      If you decide to begin a Queen exploration and you’re going to do it with studio albums and not a best-of, don’t start with Hot Space. Get The Game and either A Night at the Opera or News of the World.

  • Our all-time favorite is probably Mermaid Avenue which is a weird hybrid of Billy Brag and Wilco doing Woody Guthrie lyrics and a little Natalie Merchant thrown in. We listened to almost nothing else our entire honeymoon in Montana and frequently sang the songs while hiking (to detract bears from sneaking up on us).

    Now that we have a one-year-old in our mini-van (too little for headphones) we are back to listening to a whole lot of Dan Zanes 🙂

    • Love and remember Dan Zanes fondly! He reminds me of Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick. 🙂

  • “Separation Sunday” by The Hold Steady is a great one for travel. We also found on our last trip the new Daft Punk and Vampire Weekend albums were solid. And if you can time it just right, there is nothing like going over a bridge right when “When the Levee Breaks” starts.

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