Making the Perfect Soundtrack for the Road
It used to be that you would have to spend hours coming up with what you would listen to the next time you hit the road with friends. After all, back when it was mix tapes and not mix CDs, you had to spend an amount of time equal to the whole length of the tape in order to record it.
These days, it can be as simple as just grabbing your iPod, plugging it in, and hitting “shuffle.” Doing a “genius mix” will give you a somewhat computer-generated mix that follows similar artists and genres. Easy sure, but where’s the fun in all that?
For your next road trip, heck, even your next trip to the grocery store, do what I do and at least spend some time making a playlist.
The first thing I think about is who I’m driving with. Mainly you want to consider whether you’ll offend them, either with the musical content or your potentially… unique tastes. This is when I decide whether or not it’s okay to risk putting something on they don’t like just because you know they don’t like it. Be sure you know your friends well enough before you make that move.
The length of the drive is also key. I always shoot for 10-20% longer than I need, just in case traffic gets bad or we skip a song. This way you avoid hitting the start of the mix again before you’ve come back home.
Also consider where you’re going; I mostly think about this one for theme. For example, if you’re carting the kids around for a school field trip, They Might Be Giants has an entire album devoted to science called “Here Comes Science.”
You also want to consider, of course, road trip staples and guilty pleasures. Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” is one, along with Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” Some popular guilty pleasures among my family and friends are “Come on Eileen,” “Sweet Caroline,” and pretty much anything we can sing along with but are ashamed to know the words to.
So kick it up a notch for your next drive; you’ll probably find that it’s a bit more fun with the right soundtrack.