Road Trippin’

I love driving.

It doesn’t matter much where my wheels hit the road. I’ve done winding, graveled two-lanes through pine tree forests in the middle of Minnesota. Meandered along hilly stretches of I-94 through little tourist-trap Wisconsin towns like Mauston and Black River Falls. Mile after mile of I-70 between Indianapolis and Terre Haute, thick with cicadas and road kill. And I love skipping the toll road bypasses and bulleting clean through the skyscrapered hearts of big cities like Chicago or Minneapolis. Bumper-to-bumper at 80mph and I’m in heaven.

And I love music.

While books on CD are fun for those quiet times after the kids are asleep and my wife has kicked off her flip flops and tilted her seat back to catch a few well deserved Zs, there’s nothing quite like the joy to be had by popping in a favorite album and letting it play all the way through. You know the ones . . . the CDs that don’t have a track you usually skip past. Albums that just don’t work on your Ipod’s shuffle mode.

Driving CDs.

Here are my five favorite driving CDs:

Dave Matthews Band – Live at Folsom Field – Boulder, Colorado

This collection of live tunes was my first true introduction to DMB and remains a favorite for many reasons. There’s the spirited cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower.” The “lovely ladies” sauced-up stylings on “Angel.” The contemplative “If I Had It All.” And the pounding, foot-on-the-gas aggression of “Don’t Drink the Water.” I’ve got a lot of Dave that I listen to frequently, but nothing beats this one if you have a couple hours of concrete to traverse.

Tool – 10,000 Days

Maynard and the gang’s most passionate project. “Vicarious” has one of the best ending riffs ever recorded, and the lyrics get me singing along every time. The thunderclaps throughout the title track never fail to get my heart going, especially during the early morning stretch of a long, overnight drive. And the foolish, manic ramblings of “Roseta Stoned” always leave me laughing out loud. I usually wake up the dog, which inevitably leads to a piddle pit stop. Then there’s the surreal digital wheezing of “Viginti Tres.” If I play this one loud enough, the kids have nightmares. Squirm in their seatbelts and then beg for mercy. Dad’s crazy that way . . .

Queensryche – Operation Mindcrime

No road trip is complete without a concept album. My list has two. The first is from Seattle’s masters of cerebral rock. No album has been spun more times during the course of my life than this masterpiece from 1988. The story of Nikki, “a man becoming disillusioned with American society, and joining in a conspiratorial plot to assassinate its corrupt leaders,” draws me in and always entertains. On a two-day Greyhound trip from Bemidji, MN to Dallas during my college days, I listened to this cassette probably twenty times. In a row. “Why am I here / and for how long?” Indeed.

Dream Theater – Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory

This one is a non-stop aural feast. It tells “the story of Nicholas and the discovery of his past life, which involves love, murder, and infidelity as Victoria Page.” The ending has a killer twist! And musically . . . well, long-time Tweakers know how I love this band. It’s the first album with Jordan on keyboards and his contributions are immediate and massive. DT hit their stride with this one, and at 70+ minutes it’s perfect for any long trip.

Porcupine Tree – Deadwing

Yet another progressive rock album. This one’s a bit on the mellower side of life, however, and sets the perfect “settle down” tone, right about the time the sun goes down and we’ve stopped for supper at some roadside diner. Steve Wilson’s voice is hypnotically smooth, especially on tracks like “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here” and “The Start of Something Beautiful.” And the strangeness of “Glass Arm Shattering” wraps things up nicely.

So there you have ’em. I expect each and every one of you to go and get these and drive to NE Indiana. We’ll have a picnic . . .

No wait. Gas prices being what they are, maybe that’s not a plausible plan.

Instead, feel free to tweak The Cheek and share your favorite road trippin’ tunes. I’m always shopping for new CDs to spin. I look forward to hearing what keeps your eyes on the road and your hunk of steel between the lines . . .


12 thoughts on “Road Trippin’

  1. ahahahaha – you said “piddle”! It’s a sign or something – maybe a sign I should stop drinking coffee before I have to “piddle” all day!

    I like the way you set this up – the whole road trippin’ thing and then we open up the glove compartment and your CDs tumble out upon the page.

    We should have a Nearly Unknown road trip, where we only go see other obscure bloggers…just thinking outloud!

  2. I do that on occasion. I use StumbleUpon and just click away. I have found some interesting stuff . . .

  3. Hmmm. Risky making a driving recommendation, subjectivity and all, but you might like Grinderman. Can’t go wrong with Ralph Stanely either.


  4. I think it’s time to toss a few CDs in the car go for a trip down the road a little way…… say Peru!

    All joking aside, I envy people who live in countries where they can drive to other countries. If I lived in the US I’d would’ve driven all over North, Central and South America.

    I had a listen to that Dave Mathews band you recommended. I’d hadn’t heard of them before and I thought they were great. Thanks.

    By the way, did you take the shot at the top of your post? If so, nice shot.

  5. @we-be-toys – Yeah, how strange that we both used the word “piddle” in a post on the same day. And I love the glove box metaphor! I wish I’d have thought to use that . . .

    @Michael – I am going to have to pick up the Grinderman CD. I’ve never really taken the opportunity to get into Nick Cave. Knew he had talent . . . now I must visit Best Buy.

    @Razz – Never heard of DMB? You’re in for a treat, my friend. They are a band best digested live, are ethnically diverse in their lineup, and their music speaks on so many levels. If you must pick up a CD and don’t want anything live, start with Under the Table and Dreaming. Glad you liked them . . . And the photo is stock in my Word clip art collection. I wish I could take a picture that cool. Maybe my bud Michael could have taken it, but not me in a million years!

  6. All good albums there, Brian. I would add Pearl Jam’s “Ten,” because of its great listenability – all the way through. And Temple of the Dog, that great merging of Seattle grunge superstars into a tribute to one of their fallen friends (Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone).

    Great, moody music for the road.

    Peace – D

  7. I think I will have to do a proper posting of this one, fab idea. For me it is Radiohead Bends or Ok Computer (both), Muse Showbiz & Absolution and any Sheryl Crow for sure! Dang there are so many will have to do the post lol

  8. @RiverPoet – Love Pearl Jam! I especially like their most recent self-titled disc. But nothing beats Ten.

    @Sanity – I first heard Muse on GHIII. Then I picked up their latest live disc and found I’d heard many of their songs before. Love Absolution!

  9. Hey, i never complain as to how loud your music is. Like I always say, LOUDER IS BETTER!!!!!!….Unless, it’s as loud as a Progressive Nation Tour concert….

  10. You know I’m with you on the driving. There’s nothing better. I’ll have to check out the music I don’t know yet.

  11. Not a bad list at all. I reckon you nicked this idea from my ‘worst songs ever’ post. 🙂

    If I could also add Generation Terrorists, by the Manic Street Preachers, then I’m happy.

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