by Jill Robinson
Headlines and news feeds are dominated today by the recent loss of Michael Jackson. As the links to videos of “Thriller” and songs from “Off the Wall” began appearing in my inbox and iGoogle page, I started thinking about how music effects people in general, and its power in stirring up memories of past travel experiences or inspiring new journeys.
No question music and travel are my top two passions in life (along with food, but that is a different blog) and they always seem to come as a pair. My CD holder is arranged in chronological order of when I purchased my music and almost acts as a journal in itself. No matter how embarrassing the album (Meatloaf’s- Bat Out of Hell and Ace of Base – Sign) I refuse to sell or get rid of any of it. These songs trigger specific memories from travel experiences that sometimes can’t be articulated in any other way then by pushing the “play” button on my stereo.
There always seems to be a soundtrack to travel. Road trips are an obvious opportunity for mixed CD’s and iPod play lists, even though I still get nostalgic for the days I would spend hours making a mixed tape specifically for my cross-country excursions. Music connects people in a similar way as cultural exchange, whether you are able to sing along to lyrics in karaoke or communicate in newly learned Spanish slang, this experience makes the world a little smaller and easier to manage.
I could go down the list of songs that will instantly take me back to bartending in Scotland or England, surfing in Costa Rica or running through cobblestone streets in San Sebastian, Spain. Learning others’ personal playlists is also a great insight to a time and feeling of an experience without sneaking a look at their journal, and usually leads to finding some forgotten gems to add to the itunes download wishlist.
This doesn’t mean that soundtracks are limited to mixed tapes, CDs and iPods. My phone has a beeping that sounds exactly like the street lights in Edinborough, warning that they are about to turn red, and some days the sound of the trains remind me of London.
It is music that universally effects everyone though, and when you lose a pop icon you are inevitably going to find yourself transported back to whatever it was you were doing when you first heard “Thriller.”
Whether it’s time-traveling or taking a trip to South America, be alert for the next addition to that soundtrack to life.
What’s your soundtrack?