Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What's you Top Five List for Road Music?

It was once written that music has charms to soothe a savage beast. This is, of course, true. Music goes waaaay the hell beyond this, though. Music to me is a motivator and a balm, music is inspiration, passion, heart, soul, and a gazillion additional cliches. Damnedest thing about cliches, though, is that they have a funny way of core holding truths, even if they're dulled by repetitive use. Since music, to me, is all of the above cliches and so much more, I'm dedicating a bit of space to music. Is it strictly motorcycles? No. It's what you use on the road. What inspires you.

Truth be told, I can barely ride without music. I don't know what the consensus of the community is, or how people feel about safety, etc., but if I'm going more than 10 miles, I pop in the earbuds, fire up the mp3 machine and jam. While I've often thought about the safety aspects of this situation, though I don't dwell on it. If I weren't listening to tunes, I'd be using earplugs. Anyway. I've been near Harleys that impede my hearing more than my jams, so, I'm not going to worry too much. Long story short, here are some of my favorites riding jams. I want to hear yours! Shoot me comments.

I want to make it real clear that my taste in riding music is no means a reflection of what's new and hot - though there's some overlap. You don't need to tell me it's all mainstream. Too poppy, too overplayed, too obscured. I don't care - because it makes me happy when I ride. Some people like to pretend that where (and even when) you find your jams influences what they do for you. What a load of shit. So, new or old, tell me what you love!

Here's my current short list for September of '13.

1. Macklemore - The Heist.

Can't Hold Us

Look, I don't like rap. I don't like it at all. It might be that I've never had an overabundance of cashmoney or hoes, so I just don't relate to the subject matter. So, if you don't like rap, hold onto your ass, because this might surprise you, it surprised me. I love this entire rap album. Which seems quite enigmatic. Well, maybe not really. Because instead of the usual stuff,  Macklemore, real name Ben Haggerty is partnered with Ryan Lewis on an album that takes on same-sex marriage, consumerism, and, of course, dancing your ass off. I bump to this so hard it's like my head's on fire. It's like my heart is all full up with the energy of a thousand concert-going fans. Yeah. It's pretty great.

Same Love

If you've been living under a rock or some other form of landscaping stone, or if you're just pulling the "I ain't gonna listen to that shit cause it's already all over the radio" shtick, I suggest you get the album, the whole album, or youtube it. Hook it up to your best stereo and bump. Bump hard. Once you know you love it, buy it. And by buy it, I need to reiterate that you buy the whole thing, cause it's full of gems. These guys built their own brand, I support paying artists who work this hard. Even if they've already earned $10M, (I don't know and don't care if they have) it's worth passing another tenbux their way.

When riding, this album goes on the radio right away. It's full of the kind of excitement found at the beginning of a new day.

2. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
Yeah, it's been out for years, but this one just takes the idea of freedom and sunshine and spreads it all the hell over your face until you're smiling like a lobotomy. You know when something bad happens, maybe your dog dies, or your boss gets in your face full of the knowledge that you hate your job, or maybe it's just raining on the weekend. You can just put this on and open the garage door and roll. Or, hell, do the dishes. Some argue that this isn't their strongest album, but it's still my favorite.

Oxford Comma
As a writer, anytime I need to insert an oxford comma, I tune into this little ditty. This is a good midday album. Or, after you stop for breakfast/coffee and need the energy to get your ass, which has already begun to stiffen, back in the saddle. It's always worked.

As an addendum, I must say that if you're going to roll down the west coast, I prefer their second album, Contra. That album got me from Washington State to CA.

3. The Black Keys - Brothers 
There has never been any other album which made me want to take part in (if not start) a bar fight as badly as this one - even though I do not have a great record when it comes to bar fights (but you'll need to contact me privately about that). This album changed my perspective, it pulled me out of music/genre cycle I established somewhere in my early teens, it's that good. This is one of those badboys that I picked on vinyl because I keep going back.

Everlasting Light

Crank this bastard up when you want to hit the twisties. Careful not to turn it up too loud... or you'll probably fling yourself into a ditch... or off the mountain.

4. MGMT - Congratulations
Alright. This one never really took off in terms of popular opinion. I remember correctly if the band actually apologized for it's strange off-beat structure or not, but what the hell... I think it's their best album. The whole thing has this bizarro-world, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, surf music attack vibe. There was a point where I wasn't just listening to this while on the bike, I would put it on while editing grants and textbook chapters (exciting, and, boy oh boy, what a testament to it's greatness, right?) I would wind up listening to it 3-4 times in a row. If it went on in the morning, it played until lunch.

MGMT - Congratulations (Album)

I don't know how to pick a single song off of this album, so here's the whole damned thing. It's good for places like Kansas when you need a bizarro world theme song to spice up your interpretation of the world. 

5. Alt J - An Awesome Wave
Kelsie says this one, sometimes, melts her brain. But this another one of those that goes on and winds up running from start to finish multiple times. For me, it gets shit done. And sometimes "shit" means riding. The good kind of shit, I guess. Don't overthink it, it's a versatile word. 

Listen to this one when you're winding down. Use it at that point in the day, or the week of your trip where you start thinking of where you could hide the bodies of your road companions. It happens, too much time and too many miles makes you go crazy. Calm yourself down - but don't watch the Breezeblocks video if you plan to sleep anytime soon.


  1. I don't know if I have a top 5. I listen to whatever comes up on my iPhone but usually folk music from 30 years ago...

    But rarely listen to music while riding.

    1. Richard - that's the beauty of personal space. When you're on your bike you can listen to anything at all. Got any favorite?

    2. Probably, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Paul & Mary, Beatles, Billy Joel, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Janis Joplin, etc.

      I think mostly the same music I listened to in my 20s. I haven't moved on...

    3. I get through a fair amount of that list myself. Never was a huge Joan Baez fan, but Rumours is a great album. I try not to get stuck listening to the "same old stuff" but there's a great amount of comfort in it.

  2. I'm more old school.... Meatloaf, Bat out of Hell... Bob Seger's Greatest Hits.. and believe it or not, 40's big band swing music!

    1. Ha, I never would have guessed, Erik. I have to say that I never really appreciated Mr. Loaf until his role in Fight Club, which was pure genius. Big band? That one really is surprising. Why swing?

    2. I really think I was born 30-35 years too late. I enjoy 40's music, and would have fit right in in the early fifties. Ever see the movie Mulholland Falls with Nick Nolte and Melanie Griffith?? Big Buick convertibles, fedoras, suspenders, snub nose .38's, drinking-smoking, propeller driven aircraft...

      I have an XM radio wired up in my tank bag and listen to it with ear plug speakers. I enjoy to 70's channel and the 40's channel. 80's and 90's are too new and I had to suffer through the 60's music as a kid. I'll turn the station every time an Elvis or Beatles song comes on the radio... eewwweee!

    3. Ha, I love the beatles! Well, mostly I love their later stuff, but (present company excluded) that doesn't make me much of anything special. I currently run Pandora, but their algorithm seems to go haywire after a bit and just keep spitting out the same old stuff. I mean, I love Beast of Burden... but how many freeeeeking versions can I listen to in an hour? Come on!

  3. Actually I enjoy the "silence" of riding. No phone calls, no radio, no distractions...I'm able to think while riding.

    That being said you might want to check out Michael Franti. Happy music with a political edge that will get your ass dancing.

  4. Hey Robert. I never used to listen - but after some really long trips I really began to embrace it. I'm one of those people who has music running all the time. A friend of mine once started swearing at me because I needed to dig out a CD just to get to the gas station. Without it, I often get fidgety in the head.

    Thanks for the link. I listened to it while reading your comment - I haven't hear this in years! What a happy jam!

  5. Brady:

    I have Sirius satellite radio in the car. I tried to move it to my bike for my trip but I had problems with my Stilletto2 freezing up so I only brought a small ear bud am-fm radio, but I never used it. I don't like listening to my own music, I prefer music that I don't have or it becomes repetative.

    Like Erik, I like the 50's and early 60's to around 62 where you had words that told a story, or a tune you could hummmmmmmmmm

    My last trip of 39 days was only the sounds of my engine and the echo in my head

    Riding the Wet Coast

    1. Good god almighty, bob, 39 days out and nothing but what that addled mind of your produces? Oof. I'm sure it was busy in there, though. I roll full albums, typically. I think I also have a really high tolerance for listening to songs/music over and over (and over and over and over and over...) If you've got a half dozen full albums or so, that helps quite a bit.

  6. I've got Pandora too. They finally put an option on the mobile app for "I'm tired of this song". For's electric blues. Based a Pandora channel on Stevie Ray Vaughn. I like that I get a lot of great stuff that I haven't heard before too.

    (although, I am getting a bit tired of "Tinpan Alley" and "Stormy Monday"...where's that "tired of this" button again???)

    I also like it for when I have to do any house cleaning.

    1. Hey, Ray! My fav SRV song is Life by the Drop or one of the live versions of Lenny. That's a great song, really, really great song. John Mayer actually did a cover of it, not that you want to hear such news - blasphemy, I know. The guy's no SRV, but to see a pop artist pay tribute is a damned fine thing.

  7. Electric blues has really been doing it for me lately. Didn't really get into it much when I was younger so trying to catch up now. Been hearing a lot of stuff on Pandora that's new to me. REALLY getting into Joe Bonamassa lately. other band that is a LOT of fun. There's a group called "Here Come the Mummies" that is just flippin' AMAZING! Funny situation with them too. They are session musicians that are under contract to different lables so there would be some leagal issues with them forming a band. So, they all dressed in mummy costumes to hide their "true identities".

    I think they had been hanging out, playing music that THEY wanted to play, instead of what they had to do as session musicians in Nashville, and came up with some really fun stuff. A lot of the lyrics are suggestive without being too crude. But the music was so good they just had to do some shows together and came up with the mummy idea so they wouldn't get in trouble.

    From what I understand there are a few Grammy winners in there somewhere. They play funk, AMAZINGLY well, and the line up can vary a bit. Look them up on YouTube. The studio videos from "The Bob and Tom Show" are the best quality.

    As for favorite is "Voodoo Child". I REALLY wish I could play even HALF that good!!