Monday, October 09, 2006

Road Trip Tunes

This past weekend saw the downsized family off to Pittsburgh to visit one of the departed-nest members at the University. The ever-loving wife is thinking the Empty nest syndrome is not the modus operandi for us, since we are still (heavily) partaking in the administration of the various coop-flyers' lives. As she puts it, "Our nest has merely expanded to include various states..."
To which, I'd retorted, "...and the sticks and ribbons for that nest-building have increased dramatically in cost."
The two of us are revisiting the Educationally Penniless State, an economic condition that Adam Smith failed to cover in his Wealth of Nations.

With promise of great weather for the weekend, a fast trip to see how our most recent departee was doing seemed in order. The mood was almost bucolic, all that was missing was some sheep (although we had this to ponder about). Our spirits were high. I was intensely monitoring myself for the unique questions only a father of a college-bound child can concoct, so as to minimize the glares and deep sighs from our ever-amazing daughter. Patience is a commodity long sought for in one's child. Throw in some bonehead questions to said child and that seeking becomes a long-term odyssey accompanied by poor lighting. To keep this paternal grilling preparation on low heat, I'd picked out some music for the 5 hour trip to take my mind off of the inquiries.

The ever-loving wife, ever-curious as to the stew cooking within my noggin, posed the q., "...and how did you pick out the music for this trip, dear? I always thought it was a random grab off the cd wall. I didn't realize that planning was involved." (I noticed an arch in her smile as she said the word, "dear".)

Having the tough hide developed through the leather goods shop that is the sacrament of marriage, I interpreted these japes and nips as my wife's turn in politesse, a frequent stopover in her many-times stated purpose of further understanding the creature she'd bonded with for life.
Fool that I am, I pontificated on for a bit about the uniqueness of each long trip's tunes. Words and word-combinations like "temporal", "speed/congestion plentitude", "feng shui of luggage comportment", "vocal declination vis-à-vis back seat padding", and "pasenger interminability" hurled from my mouth like mini-projectiles aimed at the dartboard of comprehension. I failed to detect the disguised sarcasm in my ever-loving spouse's question tone, so I roared on, a train headed for the inevitable derailment.

"So, you put so much time into this...project?"
Oh, Oh. The cloth was being laid out for my glorious multi-story splat. Like a bull, I roared on into the red.
"Why yes, I don't think people realize how much work that phrase In the Mood requires. You are confined to the limited space of your car, tied to a seat securing your safety and movement, and cursed with the knowledge that you'll be this way for at least 5 hours. A proper mood is a dire necessity." Throwing a bouquet of complements in her general direction regarding her engaging qualities of wit and story-telling, I, nonetheless, point out that music, even if it's simply a drape of background droning, contributes to the plentitude of charming tales that she regales us with on these long journies.

Crossing my fingers (yes, both hands still on the wheel) in hopes of placation, I squint in her gerneral direction for signs of confirmation. Like a fool, I bravely belabored my point.

"Jazz is fine, as long as it's agitated. Even a jazz vocalist is o.k. as long as it's not someone like Ella or Louis. The latter two should be left at home where, lounging back in a sofa, feet extended onto a coffee table, a glass of wine swirling in one's hand is perfectly acceptable deportment. Driving at 72 mph does not allow one to lounge, not if reaching a destination safely is one of that day's goals."
"But I love Ella!", my wife pleads.
"As do I. But, you also love sleeping in a sedentary position, which is against most state's driving laws if you're sitting in the driver's seat.
So, Ella's out and Tania Maria is in."

So, what else will be bombarded by?, she says, a mote of optimism struggling to survive.

I ignore the thematic war direction and stick to the facts of the dictatorial driver list.

Olu Dara. Both. Thick production. Interesting mix of trumpet, guitar, and, most defintely, a voice to eliminate trip ennui.
Los Lobos. The new one. Critics have compared it with Kiko. I'd say it's a great mix of Good Morning Azatlan and This Time, 2 of my favorite Los Lobos' albums.
Little Feat's The Last Record Album. One of my all-time favorite albums by anyone. The only fault I have with this album is that it's not long enough. Extended versions of all of the songs would have been greatly appreciated. A little harangue here: ANY Little Feat album put out after Lowell George's early death should NEVER be considered as Little Feat albums.
Billy Bragg’s Worker Playtime, because his heavily-accented voice will take you through the truly boring landscape that is a vital component of any trip.
Blackilicious’s The Craft is spoken word. No aural wordjam blocking up your (or your) passenger’s ears. Fast, funny, introspective.
Stanton Moore’s one of my favorite drummers along with Leon Parker. Moore’s All Kooked Out! brings in the sun on a rainy day. (looking forward to his newest release, III, but that’s another road trip.)
Toumani Diabete’s Symmetric Orchestra is a soaring amalgamation of drums, voices, and kora with a tempo-varied song list that will let you cover 100 miles of asphalt in a minimal amount of time. And all without (excessive) speeding.
Monty Alexander and Ernest Ranglin on Rock Steady was the token reggae-imbued album, although any of either Alexander's or Ranglin's albums, such as Ranglin's Below the Bassline would have done in a pinch. Side note: Mr. Ranglin's In Search of the Lost Riddim is a gorgeous cd released in 1998 to underwhelming success. A truly great recording.
Oh, Brother Where Art Thou, a 1995 release from The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group, (No, not that Oh, Brother Where Art Thou) The ever-loving wife thinks a beehive hairdo and a cocktail with tooth picked olives is de rigueur. I say that’s fine but none for the driver. He’s preoccupied listening to "Who’s going to drive My Bloody Yugo when I die". (Scroll down on the link.)
Steve Forbert’s The American in Me finishes off this particular road trip. Clangy and loud enough to keep said driver alert and yet introspective enough to keep the ever-loving wife thinking she’s traveling with a pensive kind of guy.

So, this music selection, some stimulating conversation, a blessing of minimal traffic, and no hell-bound tractor-trailers made this last westbound trip quite enjoyable.

Any special music choices that you make for those longer journies?

I stepped out of the Fossil Age and tried doing the Nano-FM music connection. I probably did it incorrectly. If you're travelling 200-500 miles (or more) how the heck do you get the Nano connected via the FM attachment that you don't have to be fluttering the dial as you are travelling through the unused FM dial? Should I have been reading the directions or is the only way that the Nano-FM connection work if you're driving in a 10 mile radius circle?

Inquiring mind would LOVE to know.

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I am still fossilized and cannot be of help with the Nano...

BUT, I do own a delicious new cd that I shall critique soon at TT.

News at eleven...hint, bring rum.

And you music selection? I only knew Little Feat and Los Lobos.
Sorry but I don't have time to tell you about my choice of music for travelling: there is soooo much clicking to do to find out about yours :-) ...
If you want "special", try listening to Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat while driving from Toronto to Northern Alberta. Switching to Harry Potter (on CD) was a very, very welcome change for the two adults in the car.
CP, good to know there are fellow fossils out there. That review? Your hint points me toward that Parrothead guy.

Alcessa, I'll be waiting to read/hear your long voyage musicale.

WP, I feel your aural pain, brother! Those days are, luckily, behind me, although a recent road trip with one of my imps had a rap/hip-hop soundtrack and while I like The Roots and John Legend, a little variety is a good thing.

I realize that things must have been really, really bad for the two of you when Harry Potter was a "Welcome" change. Didn'r Balck Sabbath do a kid's cd, "Iron Man-child"?

"hmmmm, could be!"
"Iron Man-Child" - yes, and Iron Maiden had a version of "The Number of the Beast" as sung by Sesame Street's "The Count".

No, I mostly eschew my metallic past in favor of my Los Lobos present, thank you.
I can't help with your Nano question but want to know if you find an answer. We have a Belkin rig that works great if we head east (toward Ljubljana) but cannot find a single vacant station for iPod broadcastage if we go west. Northeastern Italy appears to have virtually every possible radio frequency occupied.

So our roadtrip choices vary with compass point: randomly filled Shuffle shuffling randomly if headed east; whatever CDs are sliding around under the seat if headed west. North: Ricky Gervais podcasts.

We try to avoid the south.
Mr. Sgazzetti,
Oh - Oh. If you're having problems that are not fixable, that leaves me with one solution, aside from chucking my Griffin Non(oh!)-Tecnology out the window.

Massive letter-wrting campaign to Griffin demanding my money back.

Another note about the Nano. On occassion, I plug it into our night radio as an input source.


I play cd's on this radio and the sound is, well, quite remarkable. Clear with a lot of punch on the bass.

The Nano's input comes out dimmed, if you know what I mean. Flat and without sparkle. The Nano works well with Sennheiers, but as a direct feed into a larger stereo, it falls flat.

Not sure, again, if it's me or if it's the Nano.
You didn't see this,

how is that for a song about a Yugo, and get this, same model! :)
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