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Traveling Tunes
Claire Marsden

Indulge me. Let me take a sentimental journey back to the summers of my youth, when holidays were a family affair that involved unfeasibly early starts (there is no traffic on the road at 4 am), loading the car to the brim, tins of crunch (mum’s secret recipe for flapjack/cereal bars) placed temptingly in the seat between my sister and me, to be rationed sparingly throughout the epic adventure. And, of course, a soundtrack.

Demands for De La Soul were ignored, mum’s choice of Steve Winwood endured, dad’s requests for The Stones enjoyed (but not all the way there!).

But today it is all different. No longer do you get to choose just five CDs each, to be rotated for communal consumption. Now each family member will have his or her own iPod, with an individualized mixed tape lovingly compiled before takeoff. So what would feature on yours?

It is a difficult question, and rather than merely subject you to my own eclectic tastes, I have carried out some research among colleagues, friends, and family, who have given me tracks — from the obvious to the bizarre — to download onto that iPod before piling into that car or heading off to the airport.

Canned Heat’s “On the Road Again” may well be an answer that lacks subtlety of purpose, but it is a great opener nonetheless, a perfect start to any holiday. The traffic jam, the queues at the airport, the lack of air-conditioning at the hotel, and nerves are getting frayed. So the next track is perfect to vent frustrations, privately, at your traveling companion: “I Hate You So Much Right Now” by Kelis offers powerful lyrics and a therapeutic screaming section mid-track. For a more relaxed feel, many suggested anything by Simon and Garfunkel, and one friend recommended new London-based singer/songwriter Natty, especially the track “Bedroom Eyes.”

Songs often remind us a person or place from our past and so infl uence our choices. Hence the inclusion on this iPod of Bob Sinclair’s “Love Generation” (at this point I would like to remind you that these are not my choices) and Radiohead’s “Creep” as well as “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira and Wyclef Jean, a track that can’t fail to get you dancing.

I could go on and on, and I am aware that there have been many genres missed, let alone no mention of The Eagles’ “Hotel California,” “Dreadlock Holiday” by 10cc, Estelle’s “American Boy,” anything by Dolly Parton…

This just goes to prove that it is a difficult and thought-provoking list to compile. And it leads me to ponder the potentially peaceful car journey during which each traveler’s iPod loaded with personal favorites renders unnecessary the noisy squabbles over whose music to put on … Where’s the fun in that?

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