A long time ago when my man am and I were still in the fizzy, effervescent throes of young romantic love (as opposed to the more smooth, full-bodied, aged-in oak variety we now enjoy), we thought it would be a brilliant idea to road-trip it from Brisbane to Cairns to see his parents for Christmas. For those not familiar with Australian geography, this is a distance of about 1800 km or 18 hours of driving, split over two days, with an entirely forgettable motel stop in Mackay… or was it Rockhampton?
Even by Australian standards, this is a serious motoring commitment.
Acutely aware of the potential relationship pitfalls of spending two whole days car-bound with a newly beloved – the ultimate “road-test” for any relationship – I set about making us the greatest travelling music mix to ease us through our tarmac odyssey.
I also knew that once we left Brisbane we would be entering into a vast musical wasteland, a desert of sonic dross that would stretch until we got to … well, home really! Beyond the capital city, we would be at the mercy of rural radio: a tasteless cesspit of mind-numbing, static-laden, talk shows about animal husbandry and agricultural practices, country hits from 1954, octogenarians announcing the greyhound racing results, and Christian rock.
Well, music maketh the memories, does it not? And damned if I was going to let the memories of our first ever road trip be tarnished by bovine news and Jesus worship. So I set about burning all our favourite songs onto CDs (I did say this was a long time ago). We were going to be as free and wild and happy as Thelma and Louise were before their untimely demise.
Only problem was that burning songs onto CDs took a long time – not nearly as long as making a mixed tape used to, what with all that waiting around for the songs to come on the radio – but still, a long time. At any rate, I only managed to burn two CDs before it was time to leave.
Needless to say, with only 152 minutes of soundtrack to accompany us, and any thought of witty conversation diminished by the dullness of driving through six hours of cane fields, we were soon listening to the radio.
To this day, I can still tell you the difference between Holstein-Friesian and Murray Grey cattle, what to do about fusarium head blight on durum wheat, and all the words to this song.
Miraculously, we somehow made it to Cairns without resorting to violence, profanity, or insanity, wherein I promptly purchased a ton of music for our return leg. I had learnt my lesson, though.
Never again would I leave home on a voyage without appropriate and abundant musical accompaniment.
So with that in mind, and the holiday travelling season fast approaching, I decided to put together the greatest travelling music playlist to prevent everyone’s end of year escapes being marred by irritating talk-back, awkward silences, or bad memories borne of bad music.
The songs on this list are about places, or connections to places; about moving, or wishing that you were. They are songs that remind me of places I’ve been, and places that I still want to go. There are also just a few songs for when your feet are weary and wish you were home.
I won’t apologise for the slight Antipodean bias to the list, but I will for the few cheesy ones that made it on there – but trust me, you’ll enjoy them if you ever find yourself holed-up with strangers in a far flung part of the world.
For those of you who are travelling these holidays may this mix of music relieve your transit boredom, alleviate your jetlag, connect you with people you meet on the road, and remind you of home when you need it.
For those of you staying put, may this mix rekindle fond memories of past adventures and inspire you to new ones.
And for all of you everywhere, I hope that at the very least this list gives you an excuse to sing and dance – because you can never have enough singing and dancing in this life!