March 13, 2003

12 for the road

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It’s spring break, and that means road trips. So we here at daze are going to provide you with the best driving mix for every occasion. From flying down the road to stuck in traffic to empty moonlit highways, we’ve got it all. But if for whatever reason you can’t make a mix, just buy Exile on Main Street.

Shiny Happy Driving People

“Sweet Jane” (Velvet Underground) – This song is springtime. It’s walking in Central Park with everything in bloom and people coming out of hibernation. And Lou’s really singing for once, with such certainty that you’ll believe “anyone who ever had a heart / couldn’t turn around and break it.”

“Teenage Wildlife” (David Bowie) – All I can make out in this song is the title, but I still know it’s the epitome of all those days when you’re happy for no reason at all and you can only see the good of the earth and all the colors. It starts out almost stately, and by the end you’re leaning forward in anticipation of Bowie going for the top of his range and over into pure joy. Also, the indelible, singing, riff is courtesy of Pete Townshend. It could get better but I don’t know how.

“Scoring” (Boa) – The precision, minimalist strings and crazy guitar punctuation almost overshadow the fist pumping girl power lyrics: “I’ll never be tainted by your humility, etc.” It’s sort of like “I am Woman,” but infinitely cooler. Like Keith Richards is cooler than Michael Jackson.

“Train in Vain” (The Clash) – As my roommate says, this is the best. Song. EVER!

Counting the Parked Cars on the NJ Turnpike

“Heart Shaped Box” (Nirvana) – There’s a genuine sense of menace here. The wailing chorus is perfect with its out of tune snarl of guitar, but it’s the sedate, spare verses that really get you. I have a sneaking suspicion that the titular box might contain somewhat more of a literal gift than you’d expect. “I wish I could eat your cancer.” Shudder. Smells like teen apocalypse.

“Sin” (Nine Inch Nails) – Ah Trent. More sexual anxiety than you could shake an English major at. Trent’s really stewing here, operating on half-throttle for almost all of the song, simmering in remembered heat and wrongs until you’re almost relieved when he goes into high octane and screams “lies lies lies.” Indeed.

“Purr” (Sonic Youth) – I think you need to have a stick shift to properly appreciate this one. The bass doodling leads directly into a primal scream / pseudo-speed metal rave up that’ll make you want to strip the gears and play air guitar. And then there’s the wordless bridge, with a solo that you’ll want to slow down and arch into.

“Cactus” (Pixies) — Mmmm sexual frustration. The matter-of-fact desperateness and unselfconscious kinkyness displayed here almost get dispelled by the awesomeness of the insistent underlying chord progression. “Make your dress all wet and send it to me.” No problem.

Pink Moon

“Cactus Tree” (Joni Mitchell) – The woman is a poet. The lovely melody is put at the service of the keenly observed odyssey of a woman and her men, all of whom travel in the same, slightly sad, disconnected circle.

“1000 Oceans” (Tori Amos) — Tori’s good when she’s surreal, but she’s great when she’s linear. The cello and piano and subtle percussion underscore the devotion expressed in the lyrics. You can feel her straining to “sail him home.”

“At Last” (Etta James) — It’s really too bad cars can’t slow dance.

“Moonlight Mile” (The Rolling Stones) — This has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with longing. Empty roads, silent radios, weaving guitars, delicate piano and Jagger’s voice has a husk and a cry and a promise in it. He’s coming home, wait for him. You’ll be glad you did.

Archived article by Erica Stein