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Little Black Book...World Music List

Updated on December 9, 2014

My Top Travel Songs

  • Something Good by Alt-J
  • We're All in Love by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
  • Tonight I'll be Staying Here With You by Bob Dylan
  • Alech Taadi by Khaled: If any song could transport you to a crowded middle eastern market it's this one.
  • Home by OK Sweetheart
  • Stolen Dance by Milky Chance
  • Whistlestop by Tyler Stenson
  • I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) by the Proclaimers: Reminiscent of Benny and Joon, every time I hear this song I crave a roadtrip.
  • Moonshine by My Pet Dragon: A happy reminder of a weekend spent camping on the bay of Fundi.
  • Ai Du by Ali Farka Touré & Ry Cooder
  • Can't You See by The Marshall Tucker Band
  • Them Shoes by Patrick Sweany
  • Mondo Bongo by Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros: Not only movie featured but great for listening to on your ipod while crammed in a tiny bus on a dusty road in any country.
  • California Dreamin' by The Mama's and the Papa's
  • If I ever Stray by Frank Turner
  • Entrance Song by the Black Angels
  • Walkin' Blues by Eric Clapton (unplugged)
  • Blues Run the Game by Simon and Garfunkel
  • Broda Olé by Asa: Asa's unique french Nigerian twist is upbeat and catchy.
  • Dead Sea by the Lumineers
  • Broke by Leopold and his Fiction
  • 3 am by Gregory Alan Isakov
  • The Passenger by Iggy Pop: This song always makes me feel like a teenager. I some how expect everything to suddenly become more exciting.
  • Dear Mr. Fantasy by Traffic
  • Three Rounds and a Sound by Bind Pilot
  • Le Chant Des Fauves by Tinariwen: All of Tinariwen's songs make me think of Africa. No matter how cold it is outside, with them in your ears you can imagine yourself driving over the plains in the dusty orange sunlight.
  • Dog Days Are Over by Florence and the Machine
  • America by Simon and Garfunkel: My dad was in charge of the radio on all our vacations so there was always a lot of oldies, this one still makes me think of driving to Maine.
  • Down in the Valley by The Head and the Heart
  • Month of Sundays by Passenger
  • Hoppipolla by Sigar Ros: This is a song that makes you feel like anything is possible and reminds you that the world is out there, still mysterious and just waiting to be seen.
  • Such Great Heights by Iron & Wine
  • Snow in Venice by Elizaveta: Sometimes, no matter how great a trip is going you can't help but think of all the people you won't ever see again.
  • Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding
  • Vagabond by Modest Mouse: For when the restlessness becomes overwhelming. Sometimes you just have to pack a bag and go...anywhere.
  • Never Forget You by the Noisettes
  • San Francisco by Stu Larsen
  • Into my Arms by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Travel Soundrack

For me a great movie includes a great soundtrack, so why shouldn't life? I'm not talking about pre-kiss violins and eerie monotonous warning beats sounding every time we walk down a dark alley, I'm talking about the right song for the right time. The song that puts you in a good mood every time you hear it because it takes you back to a time and place you'll never forget.

Travel memories are especially vivid, so it follows that the songs that evoke them are special too. I am a bit of an audiophile so I make a new play list for every trip, and usually keep adding songs as I go. In Paris I listened to Ella Fitzgerald, Edith Piaf and Louis Armstrong; in Belize it was mellow sounds of Finley Quaye and Bob Marley; Southeast Asia was a mix of Bon Iver, Elvis and CCR; Mexico saucy Latino pop and salsa and in the Dominican Republic my music strayed to the whimsical beats of Joe Strummer.

Over time the songs and the places become irreversibly entwined, so that every time I hear Somebody that I Used to Know by Gotye I am back walking with friends down the dusty path to Tulum. California Dreaming by the Mama's and Papa's and The Little Old Lady From Pasadena by the Beach Boys inevitably bring back memories of summer beach trips with my parents, oldies music pouring out of our station wagon and my fathers big brown hands tapping out the beat on the steering wheel as we all sang along.

So here's a few tunes I love, maybe they'll bring back some of your memories too. After all, s, "music is what makes the world go around."

Memory Songs

  • La Vie en Rose by Louis Armstrong: I know it's a bit cliché but I actually heard this song on the Paris metro. A tourist hunting accordion player followed us onto the train and much to the chagrin of the incredibly hung over Parisian sitting next to us kept playing it until we got off.
  • Build Me Up Buttercup by the Foundations: In a moment of questionable judgment two friends and I serenaded a busload of laughing Mexicans on a Colectivo (bus) between Akumel and Playa del Carmen, definitely a travel memory I'll never forget.
  • Your Love Gets Sweeter by Finley Quaye: For me this song brings back the seaside memories of Caye Caulker, Belize; laying in bed listening to the sounds of the Lazy Lizard Bar music overflow into the night air.
  • New Shoes by Paulo Nutini: My first solo trip to NYC I took the train and had the wonderful sensation that no one cared if I was antisocial with my ear buds in as I fact they preferred it.
  • Down Together by the Refreshments: Flashback to fall road trips along the coast, crammed in an old pickup, music playing loud while we sang even louder.
  • Skinny Love by Bon Iver: For me this song will always bring back the long drive along the coast of southern Thailand, the lush mountains and saturated colors sliding by as my new favorite album echoed in my ears.
  • Somebody Turned on the Light by Arlo Guthrie: I happened to be on Hellespont in Turkey on Anzac Day this year. This song in my ears as I looked out over the water towards Gallipoli, so many lives lost over such a small little sliver of land.

This Train by Stu Larsen


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    • brownella profile image

      brownella 3 years ago from New England

      It was quite a vacation! There really is something about music that brings out the best in people. Thanks again for reading.

    • bluebird profile image

      bluebird 3 years ago

      Beautiful post with youtube of Arlo Guthrie. I had never heard that song before, really enjoyed the video. Glad Mama's and Papa's have not been forgotten, I really enjoy their sound, now and then. Thanks for sharing with us your travelling memory of Build me up Buttercup. What a trip that must have been!

      From one music fan to another - heart to heart! Keep singing!

    • brownella profile image

      brownella 5 years ago from New England

      Thanks for the feedback. I'm a big Mama's and Papa's fan as well, I find them especially great for roadtrips.

    • profile image

      Joanne M Olivieri 5 years ago

      A great mix of tunes and some that I love - La Vie En Rose, Sitting on the dock of the bay and always anything by the Mamas and Papas.

    • brownella profile image

      brownella 5 years ago from New England

      Christy, I looked your song up on itunes, and recognized it when I heard it (I bought it to add to my next trip playlist).

    • brownella profile image

      brownella 5 years ago from New England

      Ooh, I've never heard that one, I'll look it up. Thanks.

    • Christy Marie007 profile image

      Christina Dunkin 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I really need to listen to these songs, since I know next to nothing about them. :/ I just don't have much foundation of the classics, since I'm always listening to alternative rock-- I do love Modest Mouse though!

      That being said, my favorite travel song is 'If You're Going to San Francisco' by Scott McKenzie. It always puts me in a very happy place :)

    • brownella profile image

      brownella 5 years ago from New England

      Thanks. I like Edith Piaf as well, but I guess I have a soft spot for Louis Armstrong.

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      You hve really eclectic tastes; no one wiould accuse you of listening to boring music ever. I like Louie's version of La Vei En Rose too, but occasionally the incredible voice of Edith Piaf do it in French.

      Interesting Hub!