Sunday, December 12, 2010

Road Music

Every road trip I take ends up being part of my musical memory trove, as well as all the other visual and logistical and emotional memories. Add visceral, culinary, spiritual and practical richness, as in no speeding tickets! No accidents, no road rage, no negative stuff to fume about. A complete joy, call it kinesis, whatever, I call it a great road trip when I hear the opening bars of a song and instantly recall where I was when it meant so much: the Pine Pass or the North Island Highway between Sayward and Port McNeill or the Paliser Triangle outside Eastend, Saskatchewan listening to Guy Vanderhaege's The Englishman's Boy on a CD as we drove into the setting of his great novel. Best to listen to books on tape/CD when driving across the prairies or around the interminable Great Lakes.

Best to have instrumental music when tackling mountain roads with rockfall, deer, black ice and the like to keep a sharp, undistracted pair of eyes and excellent eye-hand co-ordination on the ready.

My last road trip, October 2010, became a Gypsy Kings tribute and I perfected the art of seat-dancing. Yes. You heard right. People who live in chairs do it all the time, of course, but ordinary drivers usually restrict themselves to an index finger tapping on the wheel or little bouts of drumming on the dash when stopped for a light or a flag-person or gridlock. We all hum but I especially love seeing people in full vocal throttle, singing their heads off while driving. More power to them, I say. I also love seeing little women with a big dog in the passenger seat and big men with one or two tiny dogs buddying up to them, but this is about music not visuals. I digress, yet again.

I always bring a stash of CDs to listen to because BC has six mountain chains and many offshoots marching down the provincial terrain from top to bottom and radio reception is often the pits unless one has Sirius Satellite Radio on-board, which I don't. On this trip, for some reason, the only album I wanted to listen to, over and over again, was the Gypsy Kings Greatest Hits. I loved Corb Lund's Losin' Lately Gambler and Great Big Sea's Road Rage and listened to them too but for seat-dancing, you can't beat the Kings and it was such a glorious trip, sunny and such fun, that it was impossible for me to sit still. Too Much Happiness claims Alice Munro, as per the title of her latest wonderful collection of stories. But I'm sure she would have understood my state since she knows absolutely everything about why we do what we do and when we do it.

So if you saw someone singing full throttle (assuming you are an expert lip-reader and multi-linguist) in Romany-inflected Spanish and head-bopping and shoulder-shrugging and writhing inexplicably in a silver Toyota Echo on the highways of BC in October, that was me. I was belting out "Soy" or "Djobi Djoba". "Soy" sounds remarkably like "My Way" but Paul Anka wasn't listed among the songwriting credits. Anyway, highly recommended album for buoyant driving expeditions.

Driving tips and a reading tip too. Do check out Anne DeGrace's website and her three books. You will be glad you did. Her debut book, Treading Water is the 2010 One Kootenay, One Book choice and Anne was touring East and West Kootenay libraries with it while organizing my Nelson reading and the launch of the Nelson Library cookbook project AND a revised and updated photography book that she co-wrote AND produced about the beautiful, bustling town of Nelson. On words! Up words!