Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My Traveling Soundtrack

Frequently, popular songs end up linked in my mind to specific places.  LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" always takes me back to celebrating Eric's 30th birthday at the Blue Note Club on Ios (and a fantastic "Parks and Recreation" cold open).  "Young Folks" makes me think of the coffee shop in Philadelphia where I worked as a line cook for a summer.  During our nine months abroad, I ended up with my own personal mix CD of music I now associate with our trip.  Almost all of the songs are in English — no one is kidding when they talk about American culture being exported overseas.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I do, and please don't judge too harshly.

Pub Street in Siem Reap, Cambodia, is lined with clubs blasting American pop music

"Good Feeling" by Flo Rida played all the time in Bangkok.  It was on the soundtrack daily when I checked my email in the bar/restaurant outside our guest house.  Well, I would hear "Good Feeling" and some bizarre soft rock versions of Lady Gaga songs. Don't worry — I didn't include any of those in this post. 

Good Feeling by Flo Rida on Grooveshark

Lunch at that restaurant - I adore pad see ew

When I work, I need high-energy music that's not too complicated.  That's how the Britney Spears hit "Till the World Ends" showed up on my laptop in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia.  It's catchy and helped me power through designing a website and writing my longest draft of fiction in at least eight years.  Also, despite being in the target demographic when "...Baby One More Time" came out, this is the first Britney song I've ever purchased.  But seriously, though, it is super catchy.

Till the World Ends by Britney Spears on Grooveshark

When Eric and I flew from Bali's Denpasar Airport to Surabaya on Java, our flight was extremely delayed.  When we finally boarded the plane, we sat on the runway for nearly an hour.  During that time, the Air Asia flight played "Give Your Heart a Break" by Demi Lovato on a constant loop.  Every time I thought it was over, it just started again.  Once we were airborne the flight attendants shut off the music, but as soon as we landed it came right back on.  Oh, Air Asia, how you crushed my soul. 

Give Your Heart a Break by Demi Lovato on Grooveshark

Our Air Asia flight from Surabaya to Bangkok, happily heartbreak-free

"Little Lion Man" by Mumford & Sons played during a great night out at an Irish bar on Gili Trawangan.  When we were in Paros, it was my song on repeat when I wrote cover letters in the evening on our patio.  I associate it with both of the warm, beautiful islands.

Little Lion Man by Mumford & Sons on Grooveshark

My spot on our patio, plus a glass of local rosé

The first time I remember hearing "Rumor Has It" by Adele was when Eric and I were baking cookies for a friend of a friend's birthday party at a bar in Chiang Mai.  We weighed the ingredients on a scale in a kitchen that smelled like fish oil and curry paste while our host/bar owner explained that chocolate chip cookies aren't really a thing in Britain.  Near the end of the night, the party guests began singing karaoke.  I thought I might try to do "Rolling in the Deep" until I heard the Thai guy next to me hit the high notes much better than I ever could. 

Rumor Has It by Adele on Grooveshark

Does anyone remember that this Romanian song was huge in 2006?  I saw a group of young Romanians sing it at a karaoke night in a pub in Brasov and it was amazing.

O zone by Dragostea Din Tei on Grooveshark

Eric and I went to the same waterfront café in Paros every day of the three weeks we were there.  We spent the entire afternoon writing and sending out cover letters while ordering exactly four cappuccinos or two cappuccinos and two coffees with milk.  Every day, "Somebody that I Used to Know" by Gotye came on the Greek radio station.  I still listen to it all the time and think about sitting in a canvas chair, looking out over the sea.  It remains one of my favorite songs, especially because of the well-crafted break-up lyrics.

Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye on Grooveshark

Our regular café where we ordered "the usual"

Finally, as you probably guessed, "Call Me Maybe" literally followed us around the world.  From the Andaman Sea to the Mediterranean to a little coffee place in Romania, I can attest to the fact that Carly Rae Jepsen's 2012 hit was truly an international sensation.  My favorite moment was when a bunch of buff Greek twenty-somethings blasted it on their yacht in the Paros harbor.

Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen on Grooveshark

Looking out towards the yachts
These weren't the only songs that we listened to while we traveled, but they are ones that will instantly transport me back to an Air Asia flight, a beach in the Gili Islands, or a busy street in Bangkok.

What songs remind you of particular places or trips?


  1. Music does wonders. Nice post! Here are a few of mine...

    Italy, 2006: Put Your Hands Up for Detroit
    Italy, 2007: Sweet Escape (Gwen Stefani)
    Italy, 2008: Buona Notte all'Italia
    Canada, 2010: Club Can't Handle Me

    1. Thanks! I'm glad you liked it, and thanks for your songs! I hope you're doing well!