My iPod is in Need of Your Help

I’m in the mood for soliciting help. Perhaps it’s because Jeff’s already gone to Sweden, leaving me to tie up all the loose ends alone that I’m feeling a little needy. It’s a bit overwhelming, I have to say, and when and where I can get help, I’m taking it. Did I mention that he left me with a car with a dead battery and a AAA membership that expired a few days ago? Thank God for friends! And also thank God for Craig’s List because Jeff also left me with a bookshelf, corner desk, and a couple of large items I was somehow supposed to dispose of on my own. (Just to be clear, he’s busy working his butt off over there in Sweden getting ready for his defense, not vacationing or anything, but I certainly could use him around here…or at least a clone of him.)

Anyhow, after all of your incredible input in regards to the packing list, I thought I’d come back to you all and ask for just a little more help. Please? I swear I won’t ask again for, well, at least a few days. This isn’t nearly as pressing of a matter as the packing list, but you know how sometimes you get something in your head and you just can’t do anything else until that one thing is taken care of? Well this is that thing at the moment—I need to know what music to load onto my iPod to keep me sane and happy while we travel.

Back in May, I wrote a list for Brave New Traveler of 30 songs that capture the spirit of travel. I’ll be making sure all of those are on my iPod. I’m sure I can use a little inspiration every now and then…or a reminder of why traveling is so wonderful. I’m guessing I’ll probably also want some songs that remind me of home. I’ll need to scan through my collection to see what immediately conjures up people or places that I’ll want to think of. But what else? What specifically? What songs have saved you on that 17-hour bus ride? What songs put you in a Zen place when you’re in your fifth hour of a flight delay? What will put me to sleep at night in a noisy hostel? What will keep me awake when I need to be extra alert?

Just so you know, I might have the most neglected iPod in America. I’m really not that much of a music person. I don’t know if I’ve even once updated my playlist in the year I’ve had the thing. People tell me, however, that I will absolutely want this on the trip, so I’m taking it. Now just tell me what to put on it. I’m open to all suggestions. I’m really a bit of a music idiot.

And thanks. You’re all swell. And if I can do anything for you just let me know. Or if I can give you something—a half jar of curry paste, a couple of cans of ginger ale, two rolls of toilet paper, a nearly full box of Q-tips—you just let me know.

20 Replies to “My iPod is in Need of Your Help”

  1. I recently purged my music collection but I think I can find a few out of the 2000 songs that survived the cleansing. I might be ambitious and make you a mp3 CD/DVD of my selections so you won’t even have to worry about “getting” them (legally or otherwise).

  2. Question for you, Theresa:
    So this isn’t on topic, but I am currently packing for my own vacation right now, and I have run into the exact same dilemma I run into when packing for every vacation–what books,and how many, should I bring? Books are heavy, and big, and for a reader like me (and definitely like you), they only last a day or two. How are you going to solve this problem?
    For instance, I am going on a 10 day trip. I am packing at least 3 books. I try to pick one fluff book (far more my vice than yours), and two books that you get a lot of bang for your buck out of (good books, but not quick reads… I picked up Ahab’s Wife for this trip).

    So what’s the answer? Rely on traveller swaps? Some computer, hand-held book reader thingey? The ability to purchase english language novels at all corners of the earth? Or are you giving up reading for the year in favor of watching the scenery roll by?

  3. Music’s a pretty personal thing. I enjoy almost anything spanish + new country (Chesney, Paisley, McGraw, etc.) music. That might not be your cup of tea. Plus, every country has their own artists that you should check out. There really should be a web site or an iTunes tab set up so you can fill your iPod up with a collection of the local “top 20” artists along with the all-time favourites before you arrive in a country. It’s a lot of work to sit down and figure out yourself. It would also be a very cool thing to have if an impromptu beach party or hotel party sparks up … ! 🙂

    That being said, here’s my recommendation to add to your iPod: Hawaiian musician Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

  4. That Israel Kamakawiwo’ole guy isn’t so much for the beach parties as he is for long bus rides, waiting for delayed buses at the bus station, sitting on the side of the road while your bus driver changes the tire or tries to fix the engine or needs a tow out of a pile of mud, trying to drown out the screaming kid behind you on the bus or any other reasons to drown-out: terrible movie playing on the bus, horrible music the bus driver cranks to stay awake, etc.

    Very soothing.

  5. Like you, my ipod is pretty neglected. I don’t listen to music while driving (prefer NPR or other talking radio) because it’s not distracting enough for the time to really pass. One awesome resource I found is the free podcast for This American Life – pretty much the best radio show ever. It’s posted once per week, and between now and when you leave you can download 6 or 7 for free (old episodes cost $1 per download). While you’re on the road, you can probably download weekly or whenever you have good internet access. You won’t be disappointed!

  6. Wow, I was going to suggest This American Life too. I LOVE that show! Other than downloading podcasts, I’m pretty bad about keeping my iPod updated as well. When I do want to listen to music I figure you can’t go wrong with the greatest hits of Neil Diamond. I also love Billy Joel and Elton John. For newer music I like Regina Spektor and Ingrid Michaelson.

  7. I’ve found Sigur Ros to be my “My God I wish I was asleep right now. Can’t that snorer get an operation or something” band. A little bit of Bob Marley can go a long way too: Don’t worry about a thing… can be an important anthem if not hymn at times.

    @ Kate: Rely on swaps. If you’re in hostels you won’t have a problem. At least, I never have and my wife and I read at least 10 books a week between us. Hotels are a lot less friendly and a lot less likely to have book exchanges.

  8. I agree with someone else’s statement, music is very personal and it’s tough to do this without knowing you. That used to be such a standard ‘getting to know you’ exercise, when I went into someone’s house for the first time I’d stare at their CD collection to try to get a feel for their tastes and styles. Now everyone uses iPods and that’s a little tougher to do…I usually look at their bookshelves instead.

    Anyway, three things that I hope make you happy when you’re having a less-than-perfect day.
    a) Eli Paperboy Reed and the True Loves, the album is called Roll With You. Just great stuff.
    b) Hockey Monkey, by the Zambonis. If you’re sad, this song will immediately correct that.
    c) Mrs. Robinson, by Frank Sinatra. Absolutely ridiculous.

    Wilco, The Jayhawks, Old 97s, and REM are usually my go-tos for long drives. Maybe something there will strike your fancy?

  9. I’m pretty sure we diverged in musical tastes somewhere around the age of 16. We share the Indigo Girls and the like, but I’d load my ipod up with Americana and anything you could describe with the word “whiskey.”

    So Lucinda Williams, Whiskeytown, EmmyLou Harris, The Avett Brothers, Jayhawks, Dylan, Old 97’s, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Kim Richey’s Chinese Boxes album, Allison Krauss, Tift Merritt, The Thorns, ….

    then throw in some old stand-bys that pass the time well: Counting Crows, Ben Lee, Ben Folds, REM, Aimee Mann, Wilco (Summerteeth), Pete Yorn (Music for the Morning After), Ray Lamontagne, Stars, Weezer (lots of the weez)….

    then throw in some local stuff (Muckrakers, Brigid Kaelin, Ladybirds)

    then some classic stuff (CSN&Y, Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel, Stones)

    then some must haves: Michael Jackson, OCMS’s “Wagon Wheel,” Theme Song to MASH, a little Queen, some Lionel Richie (“Hello”), “Walk on the Wild Side”, “Star Man” by David Bowie, Roger Miller’s “King of the Road,” a little Prince (“Seven”), “Rio” and “Hungry like the Wolf” by Duran Duran,

    some John Denver, the traditional playing of Rocky Top, a MP3 of the Louisville Band playing “My Old Kentucky Home,”

    and a bunch of country, just because that’s my roots and country is what I listen to when I can’t find another mood.

    that’s all.

  10. Hi Theresa,
    I think you don’t have to worry much about the music on your ipod. Going to a different place is a 5 sense experience, listen the wind, people talking, the silence, local radios. Everytime you put the headphones on you’re losing the opportunity to know some one different or experience the sound of the place. Don’t get me wrong I like music and I use my ipod while traveling but not as much as I use normally.

  11. Well, if that’s the case, Felipe I might as well leave mine at home, because I maybe listen to it 1 hour per month as it is! 🙂 I’m the one person on the Metro every day without earphones in I think. And when I’m listening to my iPod, I’m probably listening to podcasts—This American Life from NPR (we’re on the same page Julie and Laura!) or short stories from the New Yorker—and not music.

    Sarah—You wouldn’t have found out much about me from looking at my CD collection. I’m pretty sure I’ve owned less than 10 CDs total in my life. I’m not sure what happened to me; my dad and brothers are all big into music, but I’m pretty much eh. I’m not only okay with silence…I kind of like it.

    Matthew—Our tastes must not have diverged as much as you might think. I could go for much of what’s on your list. Is the Coldplay comment because you heard me rant about how I was going to go insane if I heard their new CD on repeat one more time? I’ve never actually listened closely to it, but I think I might just know all the lyrics from Jeff playing it over and over while we packed until I yelled at him and made him turn on something else for the love of God.

    As for my taste in music, um I listen to country probably more often than anything else, though I am not a fan of all the pop-country crossover stuff. I like the classics or at least stuff that sounds that way. Classic rock would be my close second. I have been to very few concerts in my life: Tom Petty, Paul Simon, George Strait, Tim McGraw. That might be it. Oh also Reba and Alan Jackson, as part of the Houston Rodeo. I love REM. DMB and I aren’t friends. And that about sums up the whole Theresa music experience.

    Kate–I might follow up on the book thing in a post. You know I can’t live without them!

  12. Felipe,

    Your post reminds me of the ipod v no-pod debate among cyclists. Those who see riding as training seem to like riding with an ipod. Those who see riding as a visual/hearing/sensory experience tend to leave the ipod at home. I’d never ride with an ipod, for if I wanted music I’d just sit at my computer and have it right in front of me. I could see where an Ipod could be useful in traveling both to pass the time (everything can’t be exciting) and as a reminder of home.


    I had not heard your Coldplay rant. I just really don’t enjoy Coldplay. I don’t think they are bad or anything, just not my taste.

  13. Joni Mitchell’s Hejira is the ultimate travel album – aside from being probably her finest album (such a songwriter, such a voice) – but the whole album is all about travel. She wrote it while on a long journey, and ideas of travel and escape run through all of the songs. Such beautiful music, and works great on long journeys.

  14. Paul Simon, “Graceland”, the entire album. I have it on every road trip, there is a song to match nearly every mood. Indigo Girls, “1200 Curfews”. It’s an old one but a nice variety of some great tunes.

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