Adventure Wanderlist

Looking for a soundtrack for adventure? Here’s one to get you in the mood.

DON’T BOTHER TO PACK YOUR BAGS / OR YOUR MAP / WE WON’T NEED THEM WHERE WE’RE GOIN’ / WE’RE GOIN’ WHERE THE WIND IS BLOWIN’ / NOT KNOWIN’ WHERE WE’RE GONNA STAY
- Weezer, “Holiday”

You might think choosing songs for an adventure-themed digital mixtape would be a no-brainer. Just grab a playlist pot, chuck in a few classics — I’ve Been Everywhere, the Go-Go’s Vacation, for starters — stir vigorously, and voila! You have yourself a soundtrack for adventurous souls, ready to hit the road, right?

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Back up the rear panniers there, DJ Jazzy Jeff. We’re talking about adventure here, and if there’s one thing I take seriously, it’s filling adventure tanks with pure wanderlust fuel.

“But you’re old, and this is old person music!” say youths, shaking their yoof music fists in my direction. To which I reply, “No, my young friends. This is music that will enrich your young minds.”

To all those tapping their adventure-filled feet in agreement with the list, but unable to stop themselves adding, “But why didn’t you include Led Zeppelin’s Ramble on? I will say this:

Music forms the spine of a person’s soul, and these songs just happen to be but a few in the marrow of mine. I have no doubt you’ll have songs that call you to adventure — and I invite you to share those — but in the meantime…

Listen.

I kick off my “wanderlist” with Talking Head’s, “Road to Nowhere.” I know what you’re thinking: Man, what a bummer, right? Well, no actually. If we agree that the nowhere in this song really is the big D (aka Death) that eventually calls us all, then why not enjoy ourselves while on the road to it? Plus, it’s kinda hard not to get into the infectious momentum of this song. “And it’s all right, baby, it’s all right.”

Lapping at the heels of that organ-grinder of a song is the youthful “let’s get out of here” exuberance of Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” The desire to escape burns hot in adventure tramps like us, and if this song makes you like leap off the couch and run down the street pumping your fist in the air (as it should), remember that you have a bicycle and take that instead. Easier on the knees. This song marries pretty nicely with Weezer’s, “Holiday,” primarily because both protagonists are energetically encouraging someone else to get away with them. That’s a good adventuring buddy right there.

Would it be wrong to say I chose The Radicals “We’re always on our way” simply because of the foot-stomping, hand-clapping, forward motion of it? Probably. But it also makes me think of how you can be in a foul mood when you get on your bike, but after riding and exploring, you feel better. There’s a line in the song: “The only constant is change / And you never know what you’ll find.” For me, that’s the rally cry to clap, clap, clap, clap keep moving.

Road Trippin’ speaks for itself — nothing better than traveling with your “favorite allies” — whereas for me, Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger” is about being an unnoticed observer as you ride around. Also, I like to sneak David Bowie into things, even if he’s just going “lahlah-lahlah-lahlahlahlah” in the background of something.

My interpretation of “Send me on my way” is ridiculously simple. What would you tell a younger you if you had the chance? You don’t want it to be “travel more.” Which leads me to Van Morrison. “Astral Weeks” never fails to put me in a serene a trance. There is a motion and constancy to it for sure, and while I’m not going to get into a long ramble about the lyrics, this idea of being born again resonates pretty strongly with me. A quick trip to somewhere new, a spontaneous route plan, the photographs I have locked in my phone from a one or two day escape with my bike — I coming back can feel like a rebirth of spirit.

Ok, home stretch — literally. I don’t care how long your trip is, at some point you have to come home, and that can bring up conflicting emotions. You want to come home, but you also don’t. So I chose the two most joyous homecoming songs I could think of, with both reminding us that the idea of home isn’t always the physical structure. People.

So there you have it. I’ve chosen some songs for the pedal-turning rhythm they have, some for the spirit buttons they push, and structured the thing in a rough “get inspired to go/out on the road/time to go home” way. Now get out there. Go-on, scram!


Music is such a personal thing, as is the scope and nature of a person’s adventure. What songs give you itchy feet?

Words by: Janeen McCrae

Photo by: Beth Welliver