Saturday Soundtrack: Steve’s Travelin’ Music
A few weeks ago, UC-reader Selena Romano posted the following query to our Facebook page:
DO you guys have a travel playlist? What do you listen to when you want to be brought back to the islands you have seen?
This is great question, though one that I think should be answered in two parts – the first focusing on the tunes that tend to form the soundtrack of my current travels, and the second detailing the music that takes me back to my previous island adventures.
(I’m sure Patrick will want to chime-in with his own playlist sometime in the near future, especially since he was once a deejay with one of the top radio stations back in St. Croix, but I’ll let him tell you guys about that when he’s ready…)
So, what are the top songs randomly shuffling on my iPod as I make my way back and forth to the Caribbean these days? To give you an idea, I pulled together eight of them and created the 8tracks mix above. (Click on the image above to listen).
If you’ve been following us for awhile, then you won’t be surprised to hear some roots reggae riddims in the mix. Bob Marley is a given, but the version of Reaction here, taken from the little-known Rasta Revolution album, is special. The album is a compilation of songs Bob Marley & the Wailers recorded between 1970 and 1971, with legendary producer Lee “Scratch” Perry at the controls. This is pre-Island Records/Chris Blackwell Marley; more raw and soulful than the global musical icon we all came to know. The entire album is probably my all-time favorite, with this particular song always putting me in a laid-back island mood no matter what in-transit travails I may be experiencing.
Also on the roots tip are two of my favorites by Dennis Brown, The Crown Prince of Reggae. To me, Brown has always been a bit underrated, though its hard to imagine why when you hear songs like Run Too Tuff and Whip Them Jah Jah, both essential classics. Bob Marley famously cited Dennis Brown as his favorite singer back in the day. The two songs in this mix provide ample evidence of why…
Another type of reggae-inspired music that I’ve really been into lately is electronica updates on the roots form produced by the likes of Thievery Corporation and Cottonbelly.
Thievery Corporation’s 2002 release, The Richest Man in Babylon, ranks high on my all-time albums list as well. The music in and of itself transports you around the globe, borrowing from the musical traditions in Brazil, India, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean to create a unique sound that’s some parts lounge, other parts jazz, dub and Lord knows what else. The two Thievery tracks in my mix are heavy on reggae beats, lyrics and dub style, but with a cool, modern vibe that perfectly suits stylishly uncommon haunts like The House in Barbados or Le Petibonum in Martinique.
Now, there are two songs on here that don’t fit quite as nicely with the others. One is No Ceiling by Pearl Jam frontman, Eddie Vedder. I added this song to my travel playlist soon after I first heard it within the soundtrack of this Saturday Video post on Kaieteur Falls in Guyana. Hearing it always reminds me of this awesome adventure that I hope to take sometime soon.
The other oddball song is Ceremony by New Order. I’ve just always loved hearing it when I’m traveling, especially while flying. There’s an airy wonderment to Ceremony that fills me with the good kind of excited anxiousness over what’s to come no matter where I’m going. I’ve been listening to that song 30,000 feet above the ground since I was a teenager shuttling back and forth between St. Croix and college at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. A lot of my best travel memories played out with Ceremony hummin’ in my head. It’s gotten me this far, you can be sure it will always be included in my travel playlist.
Thanks to Selena for the great question. To hear all eight featured songs, simply click on the image above, and look out for the follow-up post where I’ll share another eight songs that bring back strong memories of our travel adventures…