Greetings! This week I have been late writing my weekly blog post. It is approximately two weeks into Ramandan and the last week of classes for the spring semester—I am not feeling especially inspired at the moment. What I have enjoyed, however, is driving around the city in my Dodge Challenger.
Growing up in the Midwest, there would be times when I was restless or bored, and one of the things that I would sometimes do to alleviate these feelings would be to go for a drive and listen to music. So as soon as I bought the Challenger, I put together a Spotify playlist of driving songs.
With my playlist, I was trying to select songs that I felt fit the aesthetic of my car and the absurd attitude that a jean-jacketed Billy Madison exhibited when he rolled up to his high school in his Pontiac Firebird.
Also, this was an opportunity for me to revisit some of the songs from the various soundtracks of my life: something new, something old, something offbeat.
I thought, with this blog post, I would breakdown some of the notable entries to my Doha Driving Mix 2018. Enjoy!
“A Real Hero” College
If you have not seen the movie Drive, stop reading now and go download or rent it. During one of the more tender moments in the movie, the protagonist (played by Ryan Gosling) takes his love interest and her son for a drive through the Los Angeles River. It’s beautifully shot with an expertly curated song “A Real Hero” by College playing throughout the scene.
“Thunder Clatter” Wild Cub
Back when I was living in River Falls and listening to the Current, I was exposed to a lot of great music. One of the songs that grabbed me during this time was “Thunder Clatter” by Wild Cub. It was poppy and dancey and had great energy. The video to the song is also quite interesting, capturing the manic, hormonal energy of youth, young love, and inevitable heartbreak.
“Runnin’ Down a Dream” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Umm. The opening guitar riff. Favorite Tom Petty song. Nuff said.
“Nobody But Me” The Human Beinz
Having spent my formative years in the ’90s, Quentin Tarantino movies and their soundtracks were part of my pop culture diet. Tarantino had a knack for selecting music gems for his movies, and in one of my favorite Tarantino movies, Kill Bill Vol 1 (however, I liked Vol 2 slightly more), he plucked a dusty American rock song buried in a crate of vinyl and used it to set the mood as Uma Thurman’s character, the Bride, took on the waves of the Crazy 88s in an homage to kung fu/samurai swordplay. A perfect marriage of action and rock Americana. A number of other songs on my driving playlist were introduced to me via Tarantino movies.
“Girlfriend” Matthew Sweet
While I wanted to channel the vibe of ’70s American rock in my playlist, I didn’t want it to look or sound like the song rotation of any classic rock station throughout the US. Remembering back to my youth, I remember this Matthew Sweet wonder that first hooked me with its Japanese anime-infused video. I swapped out Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Going My Way” for this song because, frankly, I feel Kravitz is what a 40-year-old would put on his playlist as a requisite rock song—I don’t want to be that guy.
“1901” Phoenix & “Electric Feel” MGMT
After my ex and I split (I was in my early-ish 30s), and I was learning how to be a single guy again, these were two songs that were part of my soundtrack during this period. There was a lot of great music during the late aughts (both songs came out in 2009). “1901” was the song that played as I started to emerge from my depression, anger, and confusion. And “Electric Feel” was the song when I was able to fall in love again, albeit while still processing emotional baggage.
“Hysteria” Def Leppard
The first cassette tape that I owned was Def Leppard’s Hysteria, and while “Pour Some Sugar on Me” was the song from album that catapulted the band to the top of the Billboard charts, older Conan thinks that “Hysteria” is the better song for his driving playlist. If I were to do a shot-for-shot recreation of the Pontiac Firebird scene from Billy Madison with me as the titular character, I would be blasting this song, not “The Stroke” by Billy Squier.
“Some Kind of Wonderful” Grand Funk Railroad
I was introduced to this rock classic while playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. This was also the point in my life when I began to question the immersiveness and distraction posed by video games, for in the game you can improve your character’s skills and attributes by, for example, practicing your shooting or running on a treadmill. It was at this point that I thought to myself, “Why don’t I work on my own skills or go for a run myself in real life?” I have to thank GTA for this epiphany and for the GFR song.
“Five Seconds” Twin Shadow & “Seasons (Waiting on You)” Future Island
My brother Francis used to provide me with oodles of MP3s every time he would see me, so I have him to thank for introducing me to Twin Shadow and Future Islands. I had a weird encounter one New Year’s Day when I stopped and visited a former love interest in Madison, WI. It was a bizarre interaction, and as I was driving away, “Five Seconds” started to play and seemed completely apt. “Seasons (Waiting on You)” has a lovely video that captures the spirit and romance of life in the US rural belt. (Confession: I am smitten with the country girl in the video.)
“Powerglide (feat. Juicy J) Rae Sremmurd and “Alone (feat. Big Sean & Stefflon Don)” Halsey
While most of the songs on my playlist are older, I wanted to pepper in a few songs by newer artists that I enjoy. I like much of the output by the brothers in Rae Sremmurd (if Swae Lee is on a track, I always give it a listen), and Halsey has made some solid music. “Powerglide” is an excellent driving song, and I love the R&B sample and Big Sean verse in “Alone.” I’m meh about the inclusion of Steflon Don, although I think she’s fine on other singles.
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If you want to hear my Doha Driving Mix 2018 in its entirety, here it is LINK.