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Road Music

July 21, 2010 - Mike Donahey

Summer time means vacations or at least, long weekends. For many, that means taking to the highways for trips, be they long or short.
I learned years ago finding a radio station which played Classic Rock or Jazz, two of my favorites, made any trip seem shorter.
I’m open to listening to a country station as well. But, of that genre, I enjoy artists such as the late Waylon Jennings, the late Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Trisha Yearwood among others. I don’t have an opinion on the current group of stars, I simply have not listened enough to their music.
However, not every part of the country features such stations and of course, if found, there is the potential of it drifting out of listening range.
Many six or seven-hour drives to the Chicago area and the seeming luxury of two cars with CD players inspired our family to develop a decent CD library. Consequently, here are some of my favorite road trip CDs:

“Dark Side of the Moon” – Pink Floyd
The word classic is used correctly here. A fixture on Billboard’s Top 200 chart for 14 years, from March 17, 1973 to July, 1988. According to Billboard, “Dark Side” has sold approximately 40 million copies. This CD is great listening and filled a lot of seemingly endless miles on the Illinois Toll Way and I-80.

“Kind of Blue” – Miles Davis
Another classic.
A Jazz course years ago at the University of Iowa developed my ear for this uniquely American music and listening to the late Miles Davis’ recordings in class was a real bonus. I had read about Kind of Blue many years ago and finally bought it. Without a doubt, a good investment of listening time and money.
Some critics consider it the best jazz album ever made. It a who’s who of jazz, with Davis, Cannonball Adderly, John Coltrane and others.
“So What,” “Blue in Green” and “All Blues” are several I especially like.

“Led Zeppelin IV” – A must for Led Zeppelin fans. “Black Dog,” “Stairway to Heaven” and “When the Levee Breaks” are required listening for any road trip.
Package it with Led Zeppelin's II and III you are ready for an extensive trip. The band recorded their best material on these three albums in my opinion.

I still recall playing Led Zeppelin II for the first time and listening to "Whole Lotta Love." "Heartbreaker" "Ramble On" and "Moby Dick" round out II.
Rolling Stone magazine described the band as “the heaviest band of all time,” “the biggest band of the 70s” and unquestionably one of the most enduring bands in rock history.” More? They have sold over 200 million units and counting. Fact – the band opened its 1969 North American tour in Iowa City January 15, at the Memorial Union.

“Supernatural” – Carlos Santana
This multi-Grammy winning CD is a must for any Carlos Santana fan. Don’t let the 1999 issue date or the fact Santana has been a rock fixture since the early 70s dissuade you. There is not a bad cut on it. “Smooth,” “Migra” and “Primavera” are especially good.
Santana is joined by fellow master guitar player Eric Clapton on “The Calling.” A hot duo. See Santana if you have the chance. I did twice, in my younger concert-going days. He won’t disappoint.


“How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” – U2
My favorites: “Vertigo,” “Miracle Drug,” “Sometimes You Can’t Make it on Your Own”

“Tattoo You” – Rolling Stones
Favorites: “Heaven” “Start Me Up” and “Waiting on a Friend”

“Wish You Were Here” – Pink Floyd
Favorites: “Welcome to the Machine” and “Have a Cigar”

That was just a sample. I’ll write of more later. See you at the rest stop.


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