Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Travel Tuesdays: Music and Travel

Not a night we saw Image Band, but friends and location are the same
This weekend, as I was driving my son to a birthday party, the song "Tenderness" by General Public came on the radio. I know I'm dating myself, but I heard the opening lick of that song and I was no longer driving down route 195 in Westport, MA. I was sitting in the lounge in Cebu Plaza hotel with my friends in Cebu, Philippines. The song had gotten popular in the US the year before I left to be an exchange student in the Philippines. By the time I arrived, our favorite local band, "The Image Band" was covering that song regularly at Cebu Plaza. When I hear the song, I'm instantly 16 again- I experience all of the feelings and body sensations I experienced back then- the excitement, the angst, the freedom, the fear, the anticipation- all of the intense emotions teenagers feel.

I'm sure you know what I mean. Many people have similar experiences. There are many songs that have the same effect for me- I can usually name the year they were popular and what I was doing during that time.

There's something about travel, too, that can freeze a song in your mind. Tenderness is one from my year in the Philippines. That same year, Shout by Tears for Fears, Crazy for You by Madonna, and Smooth Operator by Sade were also popular. Then there are the Filipino performers like Gary Valenciano and Apo Hiking Society. These songs/ groups forever take me to Cebu.

Other songs or bands conjure up other trips. For our trip to Peru, bands like Inca Sun forever bring me to Machu Picchu. There's a particular song we called "The Hankie Dance" while in Niger that will always remind me of our first night in country dancing with the locals. And, as I've mentioned here before, Marrakesh Express, Midnight at the Oasis, and Riders on the Storm will always remind me of our camel trek in Morocco- not because those songs were popular in 2001, rather, they were part of our personal "soundtrack" for the trip.

All of this got me reflecting on music and travel. A quick google search lead me to this blogpost over at Rolf Pott's Vagabonding.  It was interesting to read others' thoughts about the role music plays in their travels.

Which lead me to yet another thought... I've been toying around with the idea of using my experiences as an exchange student in the Philippines to write a book for young people. I'm not sure where this seed of an idea will take me, but my first step will be creating a playlist of every song I can remember that was popular or important to me at that time. I'll be able to get into my teenaged emotional brain in no time flat.

How about you? Do you have a soundtrack for your travels? Is it always the same or does it vary with your location?

Related Posts
Travel Tuesdays: Pack Your Sense of Humor
Travel Tuesdays: Exchange Students
Travel Tuesdays: The Philippines: "Growing Up"

2 comments:

  1. There is something amazing about music for orienting you to time and place. I also heard Tenderness when I was in highschool, and it captures much of what I felt then!

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    Replies
    1. Margaret, It's almost like "time travel" through music, isn't it?

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