Soundtracks of the Southwest

Oh, hey. If it seems like there’s been a relatively long gap since my last post, it’s because I’ve been out kicking it with the cowboy angels on Route 66 (in other words, on a road trip).

Alex and I are getting pretty good at this big-spontaneous-trip thing. The decision to hit the road was 75% spurred by the timing of my dad visiting his hometown in Kansas, and 25% inspired by watching True Stories one night and wanting a change of scenery. There was hardly enough time to make a proper itinerary, which turned out for the best. We camped when the weather was good, followed signs to roadside diners, and used maps when there was no cell phone reception. I loved every minute of it. And we got our much-needed change of scenery: from podunk little towns like Beaver, Oklahoma (Home of the World Champion Cow Chip Throw) and Delta, Utah (a tiny oasis along the Loneliest Road in America) to the staggering cliff faces of Bandelier National Monument and creepy rock formations of Goblin Valley, Utah. I grew up taking these road trips but there’s still so much to see!

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So it was me and Alex and a Prius, with 3,500 miles and 60+ hours of driving ahead of us. As you might imagine, all that time in a car meant a lot of 20 Questions, podcast episodes, and music. I had a Southwest Road Trip mix ready to go, packed with country rock and songs from Easy Rider. But of course, musical preferences change by the minute, and instead we listened to whatever we fancied (which, admittedly, was a lot of MBMBaM). Podcasts aside, here’s a taste of what our road trip sounded like:

Raised on Robbery – Joni Mitchell // Of all Joni songs, of course I pick the one that sounds most rock ‘n roll. We spent the first drive from SF to Anaheim listening to Court and Spark (good call, Lauren & Nick!).
Nothing But Flowers – Talking Heads // My favorite post-apocalyptic song. Kept me up while driving at night.
Midnight Cruiser – Steely Dan // With Alex’s help, I’m becoming a bonafide Dan fan. Our go-to album is Aja, but we’ve also been listening to Katy Lied and Can’t Buy a Thrill.
Mother and Child Reunion – Paul Simon // I got the Paul Simon itch somewhere around Texas or Oklahoma…no road trip is complete without some PS!
The World is Waiting for the Sunrise – Les Paul & Mary Ford // Maybe it’s because all the old Route 66 towns seem stuck in time, but Les & Mary songs seemed to fit perfectly with the drive.
Harlem Airshaft – Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra // Much like I know the entire Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack by heart, Alex can call out every kick drum hit and name every soloist on this album (let’s just say he had slightly more advanced musical tastes in high school than me).
Pet Sounds – Beach Boys // Pet Sounds got us through the Rockies, a perfect accompaniment to snow-capped mountains and the Colorado River.
Blue Boy – Mac DeMarco // Our attempt to stay calm through Sacramento traffic was actually successful, thanks to good ol’ Mac.
Return of the Grievous Angel – Gram Parsons // Open stretches of Arizona desert = perfect Gram Parsons scenery. Ending the playlist with this one because it’s probably my favorite road trip song of all time.

Supplementary reading material/stuff that inspired me on this trip:
David Byrne only made one movie, but it’s one nobody else could have made. Nathan Rabin, The Dissolve.
‘Big Roads’: From Tire-Killing Paths To Superhighways. NPR. (book by Earl Swift)
Cadillac Ranch’s crazy colors through the years. Austin Coop, Roadtrippers.

Btw, Roadtrippers was a really fun way to organize our trip. I don’t have any affiliation with them at all; just consider this a recommendation if you ever want to find cool things along your travel route. :)

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