It seems the right time for that old wanderer folk melody, Green Green Rocky Road — there’s hope that we will get out of our homes again, escape to our haunts, travel to faraway lands, feel the wind upon our face and the waves under our feet. And yet, the road is rocky — travel is set to transform and we will have to be mindful for a while so we might hope to get carefree sometime. The closest we have right now is memories, and what better way than music to remember it all by? Here’s a list of recommendations to let your spirit fly.
Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynyrd
As they say, it’s not a song but a feeling. The liberating opening guitar solo will stir your sunken spirits. The inspiring, powerful vocals (‘...am as free as a bird now, and this bird you cannot change’) will have you planning to get back on the road – whenever it is alright.
Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
Right from Annie’s Song and Leaving on a Jet Plane to Rocky Mountain High, has anybody romanced travel as much as John Denver? Take Me Home combines a wistful, but also triumphant exhortation to take the road that leads to one’s home, wherever that may be.
I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers/Hedy West
There’s something about distances in song titles. The track by The Proclaimers expresses a determination to do what it takes to be with one’s love, to ‘walk five hundred miles’, and ‘walk five hundred more’. Hedy West’s 1961 song, covered by Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan, is a touching folk melody about being ‘500 Miles away from home’.
Passenger – Iggy Pop
About a solo traveller who ‘sees the city’s ripped backsides’ hanging out of the train, this feel-good track, a hymn to Berlin's trains, is on most travel playlists. David Bowie joins in midway, and the upbeat la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la chorus really gets you into the groove.
Africa – Toto
The soft-rock peppy-geeky tune is for lovers of the great natural world, just the kind you would associate with the sights and sounds of the great continent. Think of the rain pattering down as you took a walk back to your cottage one pleasant day in the hills, and plan a tropical adventure or a desert safari.
Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
The breezy track, in Chapman’s alto voice, articulates the urge to escape in whoever who’s been feeling it in the abomination that is the year 2020. The brisk vocals are set to a folk rock instrumental, heightening the nostalgia that all of us lovers of the outdoors have been feeling.
Chicago – Sufjan Stevens
Looking back on the tender idealism of your beginnings as a solo road tripper? Sufjan Stevens really gets you. The liberation that travel can bring, the peace that chaos of cities like Chicago and New York — the song conveys it masterfully.
Who Says – John Mayer
‘Who says I can’t be free’ goes the chorus of the John Mayer song, and the promises that the narrator makes to himself are all so inspiring. This one will have you swaying to Mayer’s bluesy baritone and probably even plan a trip to Japan alone.
I’ve Been Everywhere Man – Geoff Mack/Lucky Starr/Johnny Cash
The popular Australian ballad is for those who just can’t get enough of travel and places, and also for those who like to brag about it. The hitchhiking narrator rattles off a list of 90-something Australian towns and cities that he has visited. The song has also inspired different versions for different countries.
Seoul – Kim Nam-joon
Acceptance is at the core spirit of travel and journeying, and there’s no better than the thoughtful breeziness and poetic duality of RM’s brilliant love-hate ode to Seoul. ‘Why do you sound like ‘soul’? What kind of soul is it you have?’ he asks, but admits later, ‘I already love even your fumes and nastiness/Love the fishy smell of Cheonggyecheon/Love the lonesomeness of Seonyudo’