There’s a romance associated with the American highway. It’s something I’ve been interested in ever since my first visit to the US (Californian road trip—naturally) a few years ago. I’m fascinated by the roadside culture—the places to eat, sleep and sightsee—which adds to the experience of navigating the country.
It’s been a popular literary and film genre for decades: Easy Rider and On The Road instantly come to mind and Route 66 in particular has become an American icon.
Music too plays an important part in this narrative and with this in mind I have selected five albums for our upcoming tour which I hope will provide a fitting soundtrack to life on the open road. [Editor’s note: due to complications Woman’s Hour’s US tour was canceled.]
The War on Drugs, Lost In the Dream
These guys—we bloody love ‘em. This album has been played to death already on our travels this year. It’s a great album in any environment but comes into its own when you’re on the move and in the big wide open. An album you truly get lost in, its mixture of fist pumping classic rock and Americana blends perfectly with an endless horizon.
Listen to “An Ocean Between The Waves” if you don’t believe me.
Bruce Springsteen, Born In the USA
On albums such as Nebraska and Darkness on the Edge of Town, Springsteen has helped paint a picture of American society so vivid it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. Like the automobile, the Boss is an American icon and a blue collar American icon in particular. This is particularly present on Born in the USA and tracks like “Working on a Highway” or “Downbound Train”.
Fleetwood Mac, Rumours
I’ve tried to select American bands for obvious reasons however I can’t leave the Mac out of this. Though technically a British band, the Mac’s best period came from their relocation to California and the joining of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. They are one of a core set of bands that enjoy the full approval of all four members of Woman’s Hour. Rumours reminds me of California pure and simple—1970s soft rock, cocaine fueled California.
“Gold Dust Woman” for that trip up Highway 1 to San Francisco or cruising through the nigh time streets of Los Angeles.
Like Lost in the Dream, this album has accompanied us across various European countries these past few months. Americana at it’s finest; this record will compliment any road in any state of the union—or anywhere in the world for that matter.
Check out Matthew Houck’s Alabaman growl on “Song For Zula”.
Amen Dunes, Love
I came across this album only recently and I’ve totally fallen for its hypnotic, stoned atmosphere. I’ll confess to not knowing a great deal about Damon McMahon’s (disappointingly, Amen Dunes is not his real name) previous two albums, but I’ll check them out for sure. Love fits perfectly into the road trip bracket, especially during those moments of quiet introspection. Amen for Mr Dunes.
“Lonely Richard” will see that sun set out perfectly.
Woman’s Hour’s Conversations is out now on Secretly Canadian.