travel in style: the ultimate travel playlist

Anyone who knows me will tell you my taste in music is…well, eclectic would be a kind word. Partly stalled in the ’90s (I get way too excited when I hear Sarah McLachlan is touring), partly influenced by whatever I hear on Ellen or wafting through random hipster coffee shops, with a few showtunes and arias thrown in for good measure, let’s just say that hitting “shuffle” on my iTunes collection is definitely a conversation-starter.

Luckily, when I need a good playlist, I know enough to turn to an expert, which is where my friends Bobbie and Shannon at BB Gun Press come in. They rep some of the hippest bands in the biz, from Fitz & The Tantrums and Brandi Carlile to Metallica and Green Day. When I asked if they’d put together a travel playlist to kick off my very long flight, they were sweet enough to come up with this amazingness, which I’ve been listening to all week. I don’t care how hip you are, I guarantee you there are songs (and bands) on this list you’ve never heard of.

Break out your headphones (I’m obsessed with these Bluetooth BackBeats at present), sit back, and prepare for takeoff…even if you’re heading absolutely nowhere, you’ll enjoy your afternoon so much more with this as your soundtrack! 

  1. To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High) – Ryan Adams. A good way to start a long flight after you’ve gotten settled into your seat, snug in your headphones.

  2. You Never Know – Wilco. Positive piano riffs to get you in a good mood even if the drink cart hasn’t come by yet.

  3. Blue – The Jayhawks. Amazing songwriters who don’t get the props they deserve. If you like Wilco, this band was one of their inspirations.

  4. September Girls – Big Star. Another band who didn’t get the credit they deserved when they first came out, but inspired everyone from R.E.M. to The Replacements. This song encapsulates how relevant their music is even today.

  5. It Makes No Difference – The Band. One of the few love songs by this group.

  6. Perfect Day — Lou Reed. This song was originally on Reed’s album Transformer (definitely a Top 10 of all time records), produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson. Everyone has covered this song, including the London Philharmonic. It has a sweet nostalgia to it that is perfect for gazing out an airplane window.

  7. You’re No Rock n Roll Fun – Sleater-Kinney. This is the song you play right before the stewardess tells you to turn off your electronic devices. They weren’t the first all-girl punk band, but they’re one of my favorites.

  8. I Feel Like Going Home – Muddy Waters. Muddy Waters is probably where anyone should start if you like blues rock.

  9. Wild Horses – The Flying Burrito Brothers. The original by The Rolling Stones is gorgeous, but Gram Parsons’ voice is just broken enough to be a little bit more heart-wrenching.

  10. Pale Blue Eyes – The Velvet Underground. The first time I heard this song, I thought my heart was being tugged out of my chest. Patti Smith’s version is also worth checking out, but for a flight, you have to go with Lou’s voice.

  11. Ride With Me (Acoustic) – Lemonheads. Another tug at the heart. Evan Dando is known for his power pop tunes, but this songs really shows his songwriting skills and his lovely soulful voice. Juliana Hatfield also does a gorgeous cover of this song.

  12. Nirvana – Juliana Hatfield. It’s hard to think of Evan and not think of Juliana. This is one of my favorite songs by her, off her “Hey, Babe” record.

  13. No Sugar In My Coffee – Caught A Ghost. A modern dose of Robert Johnson-esque electronic soul, complete with a creative mix of effects and samples that will take your mind off of crying children or other in-flight turbulence.

  14. Little Numbers – BOY. I just love these girls. Get to know them – I expect to hear a lot more from them in the near future.

  15. Sacre Français – Dimitri From Paris. This song is for the middle of the flight when you think you might lose your mind. It will have you bouncing in your seat just enough to give you a little pep without annoying your neighbor. If you like this, you should listen to the whole album, “Sacrebleu.” It will make you wish you were on your way to Paris.

  16. Wildfire – Sbtrkt (OVO Remix feat. Drake). Interesting collaboration between an innovative electronic artist and inventive rapper.

  17. This Way – Dilated Peoples. They did this song with Kanye West before he got too big for his britches. These West Coast rappers never got their due.

  18. Big Jet Plane – Angus & Julia Stone. The perfect relaxing soundtrack for drifting through the clouds.

  19. Forever Found – Kan Wakan. The strings on this song, coupled with Kristianne Bautista’s beautiful Nina Simone-like voice will lift you even higher.

  20. Gratitude Walks – American Music Club. Off their Mercury album, which was produced by Mitchell Froom. Just gorgeous.

  21. Ghost – Kristen Hersh. Kristen was a member of Throwing Muses, which also spawned Tanya Donelly of Belly fame. If you have a chance to see them live, you should. Ghost is a haunted song with Michael Stipe of REM on backing vocals.

  22. Coming Right Along – The Posies. A beautifully dark song. Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow did so much work with Big Star that their own music often gets overlooked. This song is off Frosting on the Beater – a bit edgier than their earlier records, but the harmony of these two is undeniable.

  23. Cathedral – Crosby, Stills & Nash. I once had the pleasure of working with CSN at a TV show. Graham Nash was fiddling around on a piano and asked if I had a request — I asked for this song and he acquiesced. I’m not even sure he wrote it, but – ever the gentleman – he played it.

About Bobbie: One of my first concerts was The Clash at The Hollywood Palladium. I snuck out of the house and my friend picked me up – I wasn’t even old enough to drive. And yes, I got caught and yes, I thought I might die in the mosh pit and my parents would never know what happened to me. But it was love, from the first jangle of Strummer’s guitar. I loved other kinds of music too, but this is the first time it spoke to my innards. Years kept passing and I kept sneaking out of the house for more shows — The Dream Syndicate, The Three O’Clock, X, The Germs – I always got caught, but I went for the music, not the boys, drugs or alcohol. In my junior year of high school I was at a show and started talking to this very tall, thin Englishman who asked me what I thought of the band on stage. I told him I thought they were awful. Well, he managed them and he asked me if I wanted to come help out at his office, so I did. That band became quite big and I kept working in that ever-expanding office through my first year of college. The one piece of advice my dad gave me regarding my career was “Do something you love, because you are going to be doing it for a long time.” Dad, I finally listened!

About Shannon: For as long as I can remember, music has been a part of my life – from mandatory violin and piano lessons to seeing Iggy and the Stooges and Mudhoney at my first Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle. Since then, I’ve always looked for excuses to keep music with me. After playing in bands and solo for a while, I decided to get off the stage and pursue writing and journalism. As my world turned once again, I found myself interning and then working full time in music publicity. I’m taking my first trip to NYC soon for work, so who knows where this road goes….but I know there will always be a soundtrack.

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2 comments on “travel in style: the ultimate travel playlist

  1. Melissa W.

    I LOVE Spotify playlists but this one isn’t coming up within my actual Spotify app (so I can subscribe to it)… any chance whoever posted that playlist can make it public/searchable?

  2. admin

    Melissa: Gah, I am so technically challenged sometimes! Just added a link in the text, in case that works better for you. Let me know?

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