Soundtrack to the Ride (My Favorite Travel Tunes)

Kilometer Count: 32,000

Average Speed: 17km/h

Approximate Riding Hours: 1882

That’s a lot of time to fill.

I could probably have used it to learn another foreign language or two, to listen to a few bachelor’s degrees worth of lectures, or to finally develop an understanding of what classical music is all about.  But let’s be honest: when I’m not spacing out to my own thoughts or delighting in bird chirps and river gurgles, there are only a few human-made sounds that I want to be hearing.  One is the voices of schoolchildren shouting out the local word for “foreigner!”, followed by a stampede of footfalls as they ditch their class in order to come gawk at me.  Two is the sound of samosas or some other fried treat sizzling in a vatful of oil, the origins and age of which I dare not inquire into.  Three is the sound of kickass tunes:  those that amp me up, perfect for gently rolling hills or perfect flats where all I want to do is power through; those that help me wind down, which I like to listen to while zoning out on those three hour, thousand-meter climbs; and those those that make explicit mention of freedom, exile, the road, G.O.D. (the Great OutDoors, that is!), beauty in the little things, and other topics that resonate with my Fauxbo nature.   I hereby present you with a smattering of the latter.





On Feeling Free, or Wanting To



General Cycletourist Ethos:

Roy Rogers, Don’t Fence Me In

“Let me be by myself in the evening breeze,
listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees,
Send me off forever but I ask you please,
Don’t fence me in.”






 After a day or a week off the saddle:

Willie Nelson, On the Road again

“Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We’re the best of friends
Insisting that the world be runnin’ our way
…And our way is on the road again”





The joy of not being picky:

Bonnie Prince Billy, Easy Does It

“I wander
and lay in whatever old bed
 with good, earthly music playing into my head.”






Camping song:

 Brandi Carlile, Have You Ever

“Have you ever wandered lonely through the woods?”






A Hobo’s Dreamworld:

Harry McClintock, The Big Rock Candy Mountain

“In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
All the cops have wooden legs
And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth
And the hens lay soft-boiled eggs
The farmers’ trees are full of fruit
And the barns are full of hay
Oh I’m bound to go
Where there ain’t no snow
Where the rain don’t fall
The winds don’t blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.”






On Not Having or Being In A Car




When everyone else is stuck in traffic and I can just zip on by, feeling superior:

Weezer, Surf Wax America.

“You take your car to work, I’ll take my board. 
And when you’re out of fuel, I’m still afloat!”

“I’m bailing out because I hate the race
of rats that run round and round in the maze
I’m going surfing!  I’m going surfing!”






Getting out of the city:

Eels, I Like Birds

“I don’t care for walking downtown
Crazy auto-car gonna mow me down
Look at all the people like cows in a herd
Well, I like






In fact, I don’t even want a car:

The Rubberbandits, Horse Outside

“F*ck your Honda Civic, I’ve got a horse outside.”






On Trying to Explain Why




I can’t help it:

Tom Waits, Long Way Home

“I put food on the table, and a roof overhead
But I’d trade it all tomorrow, for the highway instead
Watch your back if I should tell you
Love’s the only thing I’ve ever known
One thing for sure pretty baby:
I always take the long way home.”






Bright Eyes, Hit the Switch

“So I do what I do, and at least I exist.  What could mean more than this?”







To be different, duh!

Todd Snider, Just Like Old Times

“Like old times,
Screw off the top on a bottle of wine
Living out our own kind of American dream
Old times,
Your goal was always the same as mine
You didn’t want to throw a fishing line in that old main stream”






In search of something:

Thrice, In Exile

 “I am an exile, a sojourner – a citizen of some other place.
All I’ve seen is just a glimmer in a shadowy mirror,
but I know one day I’ll see face to face.”






When Things Are Good




Looking forward to another day on the road:

Bright Eyes,  Bowl of Oranges

“I think we’d see the beauty then, and stand staring in awe
at our still lives posed like a bowl of oranges.”






I see no need to end this trip any time soon:

The Elected , Not Going Home

“I’m not going home!  Sometimes you’re already there.”






Things might get hard, but they’ll be fine, too:

Modest Mouse, Float On

“Now don’t you worry,
we’ll all float on alright,
already we’ll just float on alright.”






Being OK with having an underwhelming blog…kinda:

Todd Snider, Money, Compliments, Publicity

“A wise man once said that the pinnacle of success
is when you’ve finally lost interest
in money, compliments, and publicity.”







When Things Are Not Quite So Good




I am totally free, but in a sad sort of way:

Noah and the Whale, I Have Nothing

“I have no-one. I have nothing. 
I have been completely set free.”







Jesus these roads are terrible:

Modest Mouse, Ocean Breathes Salty

“When life gets longer,
awful feels softer,
and it feels pretty soft to me. 
If it takes shit
to make bliss then I
feel pretty blissfully.”






Feelin’ a little homesick:

Peter, Paul, and Mary,  Five Hundred Miles (Railroader’s Lament)

“With just this shirt on my back,
not a penny to my name,
Lord I can’t go home this way.”






Even under harsh conditions:

Bright Eyes, Theme from Piñata

“Winter came to Omaha
and left us looking like a bride
A million perfect snowflakes now
And no two are alike
And so it’s hard for me imagining
flaws in this design
I know debris, it covers everything
But still I am in love with this life. “










Oh come on please please please:

The Elected, Would You Come With Me

“If I were to leave right now, would you come with me?”






I might have once or twice developed an inappropriate crush on a rustic village girl:

Weezer, Across the Sea

“Youuuuuuuu are 18 year old girl who live in small city of Japan.”






On the Philosophical Side




What’s the hurry?

Chigaco, Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

“Does anybody really know what time it is
(I don’t)
Does anybody really care
If so I can’t imagine why
(About time)
We’ve all got time enough to die
(Oh no, no)






When I get a little cynical about the whole endeavor:

Thrice, Motion Isn’t Meaning

“Motion isn’t meaning, it’s just another drug…but it’s all we have.”






The Mystery of the Everyday:

Bill Callahan, Jim Cain

“I started out in search of ordinary things. 
How much of a tree bends in the wind?”






Feeling oneness amongst all these strangers:

mewithoutYou, Cattail Down

“You think you know who you are? 
You’re not you. 
You’re everyone else. 
You’re everyone else. 
You’re everyone else. 
You’re everyone else…”







The Great Spirit is everywhere:

mewithoutYouAllah, Allah, Allah

“In every blade of grass,
in every blade of grass,
in every blade of grass,
in every blade of grass,
in every blade of grass,
Allah Allah in every blade of grass!”






몇 곡의 한국 노래 / A couple Korean offerings:

(no promises regarding artful translation)


The Song Mingyu always played and which has been stuck in my head for three years:

Gang San Eh, Grandpa and the Watermelon

(강산에, 할아보지와 수박)

“Whenever I saw him tugging on that white beard of his,
I knew he was off to gamble with the neighbors…

Looks like he won again, he’s coming back with a big, fresh watermelon.”







I fell in love and need to stop cycling:

Kim Gwang SeokEverything’s changing

(깁광석, 변해 가네)

“It used to be that even if someone held out their hand and asked me to join them,
I would just keep on stubbornly towards wherever I was headed.
Then I met you…”






Coasting downhill anthem:

Jang Giha and the Faces, My Life Is Pretty Easy

(장기하와 얼굴들, 난 별일 없이 산다)

“My life is pretty easy.  I got nothing to worry about!”






Not homesick at all song:

Jang Giha and the Faces, Actually I don’t miss anybody

(장기하와 얼굴들, 난 보고 싶은 사람 없는데)

“Even if I ask myself, ‘is it him?  Or maybe her?’  I dunno, there’s nobody”







Ah, the myriad joys of traveling…

Gang San Eh, Poop in the Desert

(강산에, 사막에서 똥)

“Have you ever tried pooping in the desert?  It was so amazing.”




If you happen to know any other songs that might fortify my fauxbodom, do let me know.


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4 Responses to Soundtrack to the Ride (My Favorite Travel Tunes)

  1. Mom says:

    “Roads Go Ever Ever On” recorded by Glenn Yarborough, original soundtrack for The Hobbit, of the song in the book.

  2. Tanya says:

    I might not love this list, but I love this post and I love you.

  3. Tegan says:

    This is the greatest post, adding all of these songs to my adventuring playlists! Thank you 🙂