I’m currently traveling. While I’m not one of those people who is always listening to music, when I travel my earbuds are usually in. I remember riding a bus from Mendoza, Argentina all the way to the Salta in the north, and I’d count the journey by the number of songs that played as we traveled. So over the years I’ve accumulated a few favorite travel songs. This list is a bit eclectic, and it’s purposefully designed to introduce you to a couple of songs, and maybe an artist, that you haven’t listened to before. I’ll give a brief introduction to why I’ve included the songs.
Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright by Bob Dylan
This song was written around the time that Dylan’s girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, prolonged her stay in Italy. While I’ve never hit the road due to the end of a relationship, my wandering spirit has definitely contributed to the end of some. And it just seemed appropriate to start the list with one of the best story tellers of them all.
Boots of Spanish Leather – Nanci Griffith
While this was also a ballad written by Bob Dylan, I first heard it performed by Nanci Griffith. It’s a tale of two lovers, written as a dialogue, as one crosses the open sea and finally says they may never come back, saying, “It depends on how I’m feeling.”
Midnight Rider – Allman Brothers
After traveling through Laos by motorbike, visiting villages rife with opium, and attempting to cross into Burma through unorthodox means, I found myself on “a list.” While that story is outside the scope of this post, and I certainly broke no laws, it made me relate the role of the outlaw. And this song is a classic.
In God’s Country – U2
Whenever I travel through Utah, I end up putting U2 on the playlist. The landscape demands it. Joshua Tree just blends with the scenery and this song always seems to kick in around Moab.
Marrakech Express – CSN
It’s not my favorite song, but I listened to this over and over again while in Morocco, specifically on the train from Casablanca to Marrakech.
Mary’s in India – Dido
Poignant. You have to really listen to this story.
Midnight Train to Georgia
Gladys Knight and the Pips definitely should be any travel list. A song about a failed musician moving back to his home in Georgia after attempting to make it in LA. I imagine there’s a fair number of people on the road making such changes.
Four Strong Winds – Neil Young
The opening line of this song, “Think I’ll go out to Alberta, weather’s good there in the Fall,” speaks to me of those with wanderlust. Another travel song that deals in a probable failed relationship, there are traces of hope of reuniting in another place in the future, but the likely reality that it won’t happen. Something many with wanderlust can relate to.
If I Had A Boat – Lyle Lovett
A whimsical, light-hearted look at travel, particularly for those who are bound to one place currently and can only dream of travel. “If I had a boat, I’d go out on the ocean, and if I had a pony I’d ride him on my boat…”
Child of the Wind – Bruce Cockburn
I saved perhaps the best for last. You might not have ever heard of Bruce Cockburn, but he’s one of my all time favorite performers. And this song may capture the essence of the free-spirited as well as any I’ve ever heard.
What did I leave off the list? Personally, it was hard to leave off America’s Horse With No Name as I listen to it every time I cross the desert too. What song would you add?
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