Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
– Victor Hugo
Like so many of us, I find the idea of being without music for any great length of time unimaginable. Especially as I’m setting off on a trip like this.
Everyone has luxury splurges they won’t go without. For me, it’s my music. Whether it’s serving as a soundtrack to what’s happening around me, is giving me pause to relax, or is helping me get onward toward that next goal or destination, I need something with a beat to move me along.
It struck me the other day while driving home from Regina that there are indeed a number of songs which have helped guide me to the point I’ve reached with deciding to travel. And so, with the help of Spotify, I’ve compiled a #GoneJohn playlist inspired by my wanderlust.
By no means is this a complete playlist of music as it’s ever-evolving, and I plan to update the #GoneJohn regularly as songs influence me. When I do, I’ll try to give some explanation as to why a certain song has made the cut, or share the story attached to it. If you’re on Spotify as well, you follow my playlist using this link.
So, without further ado, here is the August 2015 edition of the #GoneJohn playlist, and the stories behind some of the songs on it.
The Polyphonic Spree – Light & Day / Reach for the Sun
I can’t think of a more bubbly, joyful, or optimistic song to start this playlist with. How much more positive can you get than the message – “follow the day, and reach for the sun.” The live version of it from Late Night with Conan O’Brien is also one of my top five late night musical performances.
The Wallflowers – One Headlight
Sometimes, the songs which make the playlist won’t have any kind of meaning related to the idea of travel, but will take me back to a place or time in my travels. With One Headlight, every time I hear it I think of being in the audience for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at NBC during our trip to New York in 2011. Jakob Dylan was a guest member of the show’s band for the night, and during a commercial break serenaded us with it. It was a pretty awesome moment.
Imagine Dragons – Polaroid
To be honest, there are many Imagine Dragons songs that can/should/will make the playlist over the course of the journey.
When I was in the process of making the decision whether or not I would go ahead with the Gone John trip, one of the things I had planned long in advance was going to check out the band’s concert in Edmonton in early June. It probably sounds corny – but many of the songs just kept pushing me in the direction of taking the leap to travel, and to hear them live was a pretty powerful thing.
While Shots and I Bet My Life are the well-known singles off the band’s latest album, there’s something I just like about the lyrics of Polaroid. It kind of describes how I’ve felt the last few years, and the feeling of everything just slooooowing down around me in the last few months.
All my life I’ve been living in the fast lane
Can’t slow down
I’m a rollin’ freight train
One more time
Gotta start all over
Can’t slow down
I’m a lone red rover
Fleetwood Mac – Landslide
Everyone has experienced loss of some sort over the course of their lives, and (aside from Joni Mitchell) if anyone can express sorrow and sadness more clearly than Stevie Nicks, I’d love to hear them.
Truth be told, it’s not like I’m channeling any kind of sadness when I put on this track. I simply have an appreciation for the fact that you can hear Stevie feel something as she sings – it’s a quality missing in some music today.
Iron + Wine – Such Great Heights
I had to laugh the other day – I had stumbled upon an old, abandoned blog I had written as I was emerging from what I’d call a quarter-life crisis about a decade ago. It’s rather stunning how seriously back then I was considering giving “everything” up (which – admittedly – wasn’t much at the time, but sure seemed like a lot) so I could go travel the world. But, money, career aspirations, and general chicken-shittedness got in the way and I stayed put to carry on with my work.
Among the things influencing me to feel like there was “something more” was the movie I probably most closely identify with from my 20s – Zach Braff’s Garden State. It means way more to me than it probably does to many people I know, but it’s one of those five or so films where if it comes on during a Sunday afternoon on a US cable channel, I’ll drop what I’m doing to curl up on the couch and soak it in (bad profanity dubs and all.)
The soundtrack to the film moved me every time I’d play it. It’s hard to believe it’s been 11 years since the film came out, but to this day it still hits me in the feels. If there’s a song that identifies the film for me, without question it’s this track.
If there’s music inspiring your desire to get up and go – be sure to drop me a note in the comments with the title of the song and why it’s so important to you.