Late at night following my birthday outing in Chicago, a group of us found ourselves hanging out in a living room, having slices of blue funfetti cake, and taking a trip down memory lane via songs from our childhoods. We were listening to stuff I hadn’t heard in a long time; the kind of music that gives you those I’m sad I can’t go back, but I’m glad it happened bittersweet twinges. Songs that I used to have on cassette tape like Waterfalls by TLC.
There’s a certain age when the music you love during that time feels as though it was created just for you. And in the music from my youth, there’s also this buoyant pre-9/11 innocence that was often enhanced by lo-tech videos with charmingly basic dance moves that aired in a time when the M in MTV still meant something.
Our little after party was not anything I dreamed up, but as we sang along to those songs, I realized that taking a nostalgic tour through my life through music of my past was exactly what I wanted to do as I celebrated three decades.
Inspired by that lively night of musical reminiscing, here are seven songs that I grew up on that make me want to hit the road:
» Hangin’ Around by Counting Crows
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had urges to get out of town regularly for a change of scenery and perspective. When I was in college, this was my go-to song whenever I was getting ready to take a break from my small campus and mix things up by heading out of town.
» Free Your Mind by En Vogue
In travel, the cultural exchange goes both ways. You’re absorbing other cultures and often sharing a bit of your own culture with others. This is a great song for thinking about the cultural exchanges that make travel what it is and about travel’s ability to allow people to see the humanity in those who’ve led very different lives from them.
» Holiday by Madonna
This really needs no explanation—timeless song, timeless dance moves.
» Fantastic Voyage by Coolio
The summer when this song came out was an endearingly epic all-American summer for me and a time when I was rediscovering mainstream music after a year of listening to nothing but oldies (no joke). I entered a new world of Seattle grunge, empowered girl groups, and hip hop infused with funk. This was and still is a great summer anthem.
» Escapade by Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson often seems to be overshadowed by her brother, but she had so many catchy hit songs in a short period of time back in the day. This was one of my first favorites; go figure that it’s about travel. I appreciate the video for this song even more now that I recognize that it draws its inspiration from Afro-Latin culture and Carnaval.
» I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers
This is the ultimate song about going the distance for love and one of the ultimate one-hit wonders of the 90s. You could never forget this video with the bespectacled twin brothers awkwardly bobbing to their own catchy beat.
» Freeway of Love by Aretha Franklin
The Queen of Soul successfully blended Motown and 80s sounds in this track that makes you want to get off your chair and into a car and just go, go, go…
» Bonus song: Roam by B-52’s
A late addition to this post. How could I have forgotten about this great traveling song?
What nostalgic songs do you listen to when you travel?