Saturday, March 31, 2007

lost highway

While driving around the southwestern desert bits of America, I can't help but miss music. Andy and Laurie's Volvo doesn't have a stereo and my only company has been the sound of the engine, the rush of the wind and the occasional junk yard attendee while hunting for a replacement. I'm amazed at the amount of analysis and introspection that can go on when you're driving in silence for 6 hours straight. Why did I do that stupid thing when I was 17? Man, I could have saved so much money if I had only stayed in Australia. Why does that girl still get to me? Who was that guy in that movie.. the one with the mouth and the teeth? Did I just run over a rabbit?

An internal conversation forms to pass away the time. You begin deflecting the maddening tedium of desert driving by talking to yourself in your head, with occasional vocalized outbursts. I remember when a friend of mine who did a solo bike ride from Adelaide to Darwin returned home, he would finish his sentence with a self-confirming grunt for about a month afterwards. Now here I am, singing to a non-existent radio as I drive 70 miles an hour down some back road, occasionally laughing at a Simpsons episode I saw 6 years ago and swearing at the night. But it is this same internal conversation that brings on its own particular brand of madness. Over analysis, self-criticism, paranoia and anxiety can easily replace the laughing and singing. David Lynch signs the lease to your mind, rips the lino in the kitchen while shifting the fridge around and makes himself at home on your couch. Scenarios which would totally be out of order in reality, become as real as the wheel in your hand and the world turns into your greatest enemy. Thankfully, the American desert isn't as stupidly big and uneventful as the Australian desert. I've listened to enough music, watched enough TV and can reminisce over enough interesting situations to keep me occupied. And I really did hit a rabbit.

Over the past year, I've acquired and swapped music with those I meet on the road. In London, I met this guy from Perth who hooked me up with a bunch of good music, including some random Australian stuff, which has been fun to dole out to people along the way. Unfortunately, at a party in Mexico City where my laptop was plugged into the stereo, Kevin Bloody Wilson's "You Orta See Me When I'm Pissed" started to play, and I had to explain the dark side of Australian culture to the Mexican party goers. I've also been introduced to the world of playlist torrents, where 100 or so songs have been put together and people then offer them up for illegal download. In no way does this help the artists you're listening to, but it does give you a broad spectrum of music to listen to, when things like JJJ, Three D and Triple R aren't available or have irritating high rotation.

A few listening suggestions:

Xiu Xiu, The Greats, The Dears (still), Band of Horses, The Knife, Kevin bloody Wilson.

This is the first time in a while I've know where I'm going to be 3 months in advance - I'm about 5 Big Kevs excited, but you guys will have to wait.


ElmoreGirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ElmoreGirl said...

Jackson Browne "the Road and the Sky", and the "Running on Empty" album. In fact anything of his -- old school it may be, but essential Amerika. Jimmy Buffet too - especially the live "You Had To Be There" album. Good fun and a Caribbean feel.
Currently love : Arcade Fire, Regina Spektor, Little Birdie, Martha Wainwright, Hilltop Hoods, The Killers, John Butler, Xavier Rudd, Eskimo Joe, The Herd, Blue KingBrown, Augie March, Basement Jaxx.... etc. the list is endless
Hooroo.......for now.
Hey.. David Hicks is coming home, at about the same time as I leave... and will serve time here till New Years Eve.

Jo said...

Hi Mung,
Bummer about the lack of music. Craig and I had such an awesome time driving around the states. I have such fond memories of driving to vegas through the desert listening to the Rolling Stones on the radio. I love creating a sound track out of all the songs of the towns along the road too. America has so many songs that I could sing all day.It is really sad that you missed out on the random sound track that is the America radio experience. Lots of the Boss, Stones, Eagles, even crowded house and the oils mixed in for good measure.
Take care
Jo and the bump :)