I have spent a lot of time traveling and taking photographs around the world (my photoblog is at https://TheWanderingHoneybadger.com/ ). One of the things that I learned was that an essential aid is a decent travel / road-trip playlist. I also learned that these playlists can become interwoven with the trip itself, the song track of your own personal particular journey and experience.
Given that I have more than a month of photo-safari planned for Tanzania (hopefully in 2023), and tooling around in a Land Cruiser with my driver & guide we definitely need some great tunes to listen to! Hence this project to create the ultimate road trip playlist, with a little help from my traveling friends. Hopefully you will enjoy this curated playlist as well, and find the annotated comments below useful as well.
I appreciate that many songs are about relationships, but suggest that is easily interchangeable with traveling. In other cases, the title or lyrics may be related to travel literally, but if the tune is something I would want to play on a road trip, then that’s good enough for me. Your mileage may vary.
Contributions and suggestions are very welcome – just send an email to email@example.com with your suggestion as to why you think it should be included and I will seriously consider it. If accepted will include your note in the list below.
Playlist Notes and References
Still Corners – The Trip. A newer song, with three different video cuts of it available, including the official Video, an old film footage from Easy Rider version, and a summer holiday version. Perfect for when you have a long bus journey through Patagonia, the US Southwest, or anywhere else of similar landscape.
RUFUS DU SOL – Alive – good tune and simulated footage . I have travelled more than a few real landscapes of similar looks. This also reminds me of what I am missing not being able to jump with one of those flying suits and skim over the landscape. I really dislike heights, but that sport just blows my mind. Sadly past my prime for that kind of fun!
The Doors L.A. Woman – I was stuck on a slave ship, a 65′ Sailboat in the Marshall Islands, and a handful of Doors songs helped me get through the rough spots in the experience, esp. L.A. Woman. Great for any car drive as well.
Duke Dumont – Ocean Drive, catchy tune. Reminds me of some road trips I did on Phuket Island with a group of Thai friends etc hunting for restaurants for dinner etc.
America – Ventura Highway. In 1975 I was in my mid teens, and a buddy had just got his driver’s license, and was able to borrow his older brother’s car. We spent a lot of time driving along highways out of the city. The movie Vanishing Point was playing at the outdoor theatre “dawn to dusk” as one of the feature movies, etc.
Dua Lipa Hotter – Than Hell. She certainly is, and of course when you are out on the road and it’s hotter than hell, perhaps this tune will distract you like it did with me, in places like Death Valley USA 47 Celsius, Mae Hong Son Thailand 44, Luxor Egypt 41, Myanmar 38.
Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower, sometimes when traveling you get yourself into deep shit, things are going real bad or troublesome. For me at least, this song is a salve for that. Plus on my first visit to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, you were still allowed to climb up to the top of some of the corner towers. I watched the sun go down over the Cambodian jungle from a window opening up there one evening listening to this song and few others… A watchtower indeed. Also good from the top of Tikal , Guatemala watching the sun rise and the jungle wake up.
Diane Warren, RIta Ora, Sofia Reyes, Rek – Seaside. All too often heading to the ocean has been my destination and reason for a road trip.
Major Lazer & DJ Snake – Lean On (feat. MØ). One of my very most favorite countries in the world, is India. It (and Bangladesh) have the friendliest people that I have ever met in my travels around the world. But it certainly is not without its challenges when it comes to traveling in, many of which I have written about in I an extensive series of blog posts about my journeys around India. The ability to “Lean on” locals for advice and help and kindness made it much easier to accomplish, like the guy in the bus seat beside me who offered to run into the station to get me a bottle of water, the people who allowed me to share their train compartment seating area when I had no designated seat, and so on..
Anemone – Brian Jonestown Massacre, just a homage to Bourdain, it was his favorite song. For me, a perfect background track for Egypt, or when you are not travelling solo but your travel companion is dragging you down, or when some personal baggage from your normal life is weighing you down on your journey.
Golden – Cannons (Harry Styles cover) I like Cannons’ cover better, and as a photographer, it reminds me of walking the streets of cities around the world, or out into the wilds for landscapes. We often seek out that special time of the day, “golden hour”, before/after twilight when the sun is low in the sky and the colours are warm, as some of the best times for photography.
A Horse With No Name – America. I once rode through part of the Thar Desert on a Camel With No Name… Sorry about the somewhat cheesy video.
Calvin Harris – This is What You Came For. I was in the middle of doing what I call the great circle route of South East Asia, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos and back to Thailand, and had landed in the location of Luang Prabang, a magical town in the middle of the mountains, on the side of a river, with five hundred year old wooden temples. After several days in Luang, I took a six hour boat ride upriver, which was an adventure unto itself.. in that several times we had to physically get out of the longtail and drag it ourselves over gravel banks in order to continue our journey. It really was one of the best boat trips I ever did in Asia, as there was so much to see along the river, with people living along the banks, and doing things like snorkel placer mining for gold etc. Finally arriving at our destination for the night, I scrambled up the muddy bank and started wondering why had I came to this particular place, but after heading a bit further up the bank onto the bridge overlooking the river, I understood immediately as the view was beautiful. This is what you came for, indeed. Also this place was the cheapest place I ever stayed, a private room for $1 USA a night. Basic, but it was ok.
Duran Duran – Hungry like the Wolf. The imagery from the official video suits well, and while the song is about a hunt for a woman, it also stirs the blood for a hunt like being on a photo safari, like say tigers in the jungles and forests of India, Jaguars in South America, or lions and elephants of the African savanna.
Rihanna – Where Have You Been. When you have found that perfect place, and are reflecting back on what it took to find and get there.
Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run. Sometimes when you are in a shitty situation, like a job you hate, you just need to run away to an adventure. At least that was my reason. I had had it. Starting on a friday night over a glass of wine, I went out on the internet, looking for a berth. One week later, I had taken indefinite leave from my job and was off flying to the other side of the world – to crew on a boat of strangers.
Coldplay – Hymn For The Weekend. For me, this song is about how travel renews your mind, spirit and body.
Numb – Linkin Park. I typically do epic journeys of two to four months at a time, usually hitting at least five or more countries. About 1 to 2 months is usually when my personal low stretch/tired phase hits, when the pace has you numb and you start to want to get away from “getting away”, it’s not really homesickness, perhaps more like sensation overload. I always get my second wind though and continue on back at normal energy and pace!
Still Corners – Black Lagoon. When you have found that perfect place on your journey, a cove or beach, a forest or meadow etc. and have it all to yourselves, at least for a while.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Woodstock (We Are Stardust). Perfect for when you are on a pilgrimage or spiritual journey, no matter what your faith if any may be.
The Animals – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place. My definition of an adventure: when you are in the middle of it, you are really thinking this is bad/dangerous, and you gotta get out of there, but afterwards upon reflection, you start to think, that was really cool, maybe I should do it again… that’s when you know it was an adventure! And then there is the inverse, which is when you are in the middle of a situation, and it hasn’t really sunk in what a pickle you are in, but later on you realize you actually came very close to dying.. Then it’s not an adventure, it’s one of your nine lives. My second of nine lives was trying to photograph a juvenile Orca (killer whale) while in the water with it, and it got way way out of control.
Kansas – Carry on Wayward Son. The song is about a spiritual sojourn, looking for truth and meaning, something often motivating a trip or journey.
Jethro Tull – Bungle in the Jungle. Sometimes while on safari, one gets to witness some Bungling in the Jungling.. nature does take its course.
Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna Lyric Video – Title Song|Shahrukh,Rani,Preity,Abhishek|Alka YagnikI. I was traveling in the coastal Sahara Desert by taxi (on the road between Hurghada and Luxor), and my driver offered to play some music, so I said sure because I was interested in what he would come up with… and then this track hit, so I immediately wanted to know what exactly it was it was so beautiful.
Chris Isaak – Wicked Game. Found this useful on long train or local bus rides around the Indian Subcontinent… when my mind started drifting as I was looking for mental escape away from some physically uncomfortable situation.. Fond memories, or perhaps for some just fantasies, about being wicked and frolicing around on exotic beaches with exotic women in exotic locations.
Majid Jordan – Waves of Blue. I have travelled more than 7500 nautical miles at sea, most of it in sailboats like my own, but also a few larger vessels, e.g. on ship crossing the notorious Drake Passage etc. The waves and swells can be quite mesmerizing “most” of the time.
Robin Schulz – Sugar. On my playlist when I drove around half of Australia, esp, driving through the Outback. I was on my own dodging oncoming truck trains on the single paved road, while avoiding the termite mound spikes poking up on the gravel side shoulders. The former would have squashed me like a bug on the windscreen, and the last would have take out a tire, and maybe even more if you hit one. It was towards the end of this leg through the Outback, on my way to go diving with some great white sharks along the South coast, that I encountered another young lady of note. She was the innkeeper’s daughter at a roadside motel, at a locale called the Devil’s Marbles. So titled because of some unusual rock formations there, which I wanted to photograph and made the stop worthwhile. The only accomodation around was at the Devil’s Marbles Hotel, near Davenport in the Northern Territory. It actually was pretty decent accomodation and the food was great. The lady in question that caught my eye was a daughter of the owner, and she had a nice smile while taking my food order. She showed some interest in my photography, and later on when she came to do the housekeeping for the unit, I started to show her my photographs from the day before of the formations. It was bright out so I momentarily put the laptop inside my room where lighting was better and she went inside to review them. I decided it was prudent not to be have the innkeeper’s daughter in the room alone with me, and quickly exited and left her to check out the landscape photos on her own. Reflecting about that later on I decided it would have made a great subplot for a screenplay… a traveling photographer stops overnight at remote inn in the desert, in a locale called the Devil’s something or other, and gets caught up or blackmailed by the innkeeper’s daughter so that she could get enough cash to escape her current life.. and so on..
Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill. For me, this song is about empathy, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, sharing and exchanging the experience, particularly when traveling to see and learn how other people live. Another reason that as much as possible I always avoided formal “tours”, and would do all my own travel logistics directly with the local businesses of where I was visiting and exploring.
Coldplay – Midnight. I have done a lot of evening and night photography, Prague and Sydney come to mind, and out on a balcony in freezing cold of Dharamshala in December for a few nights trying to photograph star trails overtop the Himalayas, while by day I explored places like the Dali Lama’s Temple down in town.
Ellie Goulding – Lights. Unlike the songwriter’s intent which was simply about her fear of the dark, and how she always has to have a light on while she sleeps, for me this song is the fascination I have for looking at the lights of a city while night landing via airplane.
More notes to come as time and memory permits.