Digging to Roam

Music – The Ultimate Travel Inspiration

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I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve had many times during my jaunts around the world where I was scared and wondered, “What am I doing?” I know other people think I’m crazy for making the choices I’ve made. When vocalized, on a bad day those judgmental opinions can get to you. I’ve found one surefire way to lift my spirits when I’m second guessing myself: music.

I am the self-styled queen of playlists. I make playlists for every mood and occasion, such as: Home with Love Calm, Protest, and Fuck You. They seriously run the gambit of emotions. I had to start from scratch in March and already have almost 50 playlists on my iTunes, I used to have 500. I don’t look for artists to listen to, I choose a playlist to set the mood. I even have 7 ‘Travel’ playlists (I kid you not).

The last few days I’ve been seriously busy: saying goodbye to my brother and mom in Vermont; flying to Virginia; watching my niece all day today; and writing travel articles for the soon to be launched site Hopper.com. I’m at the interesting border of exhausted and energized. I don’t want to sleep because I don’t want to miss a moment of these last days. Hugging my mom and brother goodbye, getting kisses from my adorable year-old niece, and realizing how long it will be until I see them all again has been emotional for me. To keep myself from living too long in those homesick and (pre)nostalgic feelings I turn to my playlists. Today “Travel Empowering” is calling my name. Do I stick to one musical genre? Nah, I’m going for emotional impact here, people! Here are my top five favorites from that playlist, I hope you can find inspiration in these tunes too.

1. Ends Of The Earth by Lord Huron

Lord Huron is an indie folk band hailing from Los Angeles. Even without the travel element that puts it on this list the song is just awesome. The instrumentals are relaxing and upbeat while the vocals are simply beautiful. This is a must have on my playlist because along with the amazing music, some of the lyrics basically quote my philosophy on life:

What good is livin’ a life you’ve been given
If all you do is stand in one place”

“Oh, there’s a river that winds on forever
I’m gonna see where it leads
Oh, there’s a mountain that no man has mounted
I’m gonna stand on the peak”

“Oh, there’s an island where all things are silent
I’m gonna whistle a tune
Oh, there’s a desert that size can’t be measured
I’m gonna count all the dunes”

2. Where the Fence is Low by Lights

Lights is a musician from Canada whose music falls into the indie pop/dubstep/electropop genres, basically she’s just awesome. This song is a mix of these with some sick dubstep drops. The version below is from Siberia, the only version on Soundcloud was a live session (which she rocked) and this is my favorite. To me, the song reflects a journey, one in which you keep moving forward even though you’re struggling with doubt.

“Where the fence is low and the water is rising
And the fire comes down and the dark fills the skies in
One foot on the ledge and I’m feeling for safety
Somewhere between sure and I don’t know, maybe “

“I’m off on my rope here
I’m off on my own here
And I find my hope here
I find my own here”

3. Blackbird by The Beatles

They need no introduction, because they’re The Beatles. I will say something that might be a bit controversial though (I know how opinionated people can get about The Beatles), this is my favorite Beatles song. It’s simple, beautiful, and crisp. I even love the little bird sounds. This song makes me feel like I’m understood, that these decisions and the path I’ve chosen for myself is accepted. This song can inspire anyone, about going after their dreams and choosing to live their life the way they feel is best. Realizing who you are and what you want is freedom:

“Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise”

“Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free”

4. On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons

I first heard Imagine Dragons at a party last summer, at the time I was living in the UK, I didn’t hear much of them again until I moved home. I was stoked that they were an overplayed band on the radio, because I cannot overplay my favorite songs. This song feels like a reflection of my life, as this blog is evidence of my life is an open book so if you follow my travels you know what I mean. With all my past failures and recent struggles, I really feel what they are talking about. Thanks for writing a song for me Imagine Dragons 😉

“Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.”

“I’ve tried to cut these corners
Try to take the easy way out
I kept on falling short of something”

“I coulda gave up then but
Then again I couldn’t have ’cause
I’ve traveled all this way for something”

5. Citizen of the Planet by Alanis Morissette

I am a big Alanis Morissette fan. I’ve been hook ever since I first rocked out to Ironic in elementary school. If I ever met her, I’d probably faint from excitement. This song feels really eclectic, purposeful, and heavy and for me it’s also an insanely big dose of inspiration. It’s another song where I’m like, “Hell yes this is my life.” Every traveling expat, those of us who move from country to country, will feel her on these lyrics. I can get down with straight forward lyrics, but these are poetic which makes them all the more interesting:

“I am a citizen of the planet
My president is kwan yin
My frontier is on an airplane”

“Then I fly back to my nest, I fly back with my nuclear but everything is different
So I wait, my yearn for home is broadened, patriotism expanded by callings from beyond
So I pack my things nothing precious all things sacred”

“I am a citizen of the planet
My laws are all of attraction
My punishments are consequences”

“And so, the next few years are blurry, the next decade’s a flurry of smells and tastes unknown
Threads sewn straight through this fabric through fields of every color one culture to another
I come alive and I get giddy I am taken and globally naturalized”

What are your favorite travel or inspirational tunes?




Kristance Harlow

August 19, 2013

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1 Comment

  1. mplanck on August 19, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    What an interesting post, complete with music. My "travel" music is hopelessly old-fashioned…The Timber Trail, Don't Fence Me In, and, of course, Willie Nelson's "On The Road Again." Bon Voyage, dear Kristance.

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