In the opinion of this author, planning the musical accompaniment to any adventure is among the most crucial aspects of preparation. From the analog mixtape era to the CD-R, to the dawn of streaming services and fluid playlists, trips and excursions have always sounded better with a good soundtrack. Plus, you still can’t really predict when you’ll find yourself in a swath of backcountry or on a stretch of highway without service.
We at goTenna advocate preparedness, even when it comes to your adventure tunes. For that reason — and also just for the fun of it — we put together a playlist designed to take you through all the stages of an adventure.
SIDE A: Preparation
Any well-planned adventure necessarily starts with a bit of tedium. You have to plan. You have to pack. You have to figure out logistics and, well, it doesn’t hurt to have a little musical encouragement to ease you through the process and keep you adequately amped.
David Bowie – “A New Career In A New Town”
This instrumental jam from the Thin White Duke has a certain je ne sais quoi that just feels like movement, and is a great way to set the stage for any adventure. The piano and harmonica work in tandem to evoke a certain nostalgic quality, while the beat only drives forward.
Husker Du – “New Day Rising”
If you don’t count the constant swells of screams, wails and grunts, this pounding track from the Huskers contains only three words, and they serve as an inspiring mantra: “New day rising aaaaaahhhhhhhyyyyaaaaahhhhhhh!”
Devo – “Uncontrollable Urge”
Northeast Ohio’s favorite weirdos kicked off their 1978 debut with an anthem for anyone looking to bust out and go wild. Go ahead and try to keep your head, limbs and appendages still during this one.
James Brown – “Get Up Offa That Thing”
James Brown really wants you to get down, and he doesn’t waste words trying to build a case for getting down. Nope. “Get Up Offa That Thing” is the prime directive from the Godfather of Soul.
SIDE B: The Journey
Sure, sure, the journey is the destination and all that, which totally applies if you’re out road trippin’. Even if you’re not road trippin’, chances are you’ll need to get from Point A to Points B and beyond. These are the tunes for the voyage.
NEU! – “Hallogallo”
“Hallogallo” by Krautrock mainstays NEU! is the perfect driving song, both literally and figuratively. It’s ten minutes of steady drums and wah-wah guitars, and you can practically see the road disappearing beneath you as you move through the song.
Iggy Pop – “The Passenger”
Iggy Pop’s haunting 1977 masterpiece is a beautiful song about exploration. “We’ll see the bright and hollow sky / we’ll see the stars that shine so bright / the sky was made for us tonight … so let’s ride and ride and ride and ride.”
A Tribe Called Quest – “Award Tour”
Q-Tip, Phife Dawg and Ali Shaheed Muhammad crafted one of hip-hop’s all-time classics in 1993’s Midnight Marauders. This single is a feel-good jam with a roll call that takes listeners from coast to coast, and even to the Caribbean.
Giorgio Moroder – “Chase”
Some consider Moroder to be the father of disco, and he is undoubtedly a pioneer of electronic music. “Chase” is a steady, pulsing, kaleidoscopic electronic track that is perfect for open roads and nighttime drives.
SIDE C: The Adventure
It’s time! You’ve planned, you’ve prepared, you’ve traveled. Now it’s time to take a leap. These songs are your leaping fuel.
Harry Nilsson – “Jump Into The Fire”
Harry Nilsson’s 1971 call to action is often remembered for its use during the last act of Goodfellas, when Henry Hill’s breakdown really accelerates. While we don’t advocate that particular lifestyle, we certainly appreciate this song’s sense of urgency, and that they cooled that urgency long enough to insert that groovy drum solo.
Radio Birdman – “Descent Into The Maelstrom”
Australian proto-punkers Radio Birdman paint a swirling, chaotic picture with this 1977 ripper. This one is pure adrenaline, plain and simple. “I’m going down into the maelstrom / alive, alive, alive / I’m alive.”
Bad Brains – “Attitude”
D.C.’s Bad Brains basically invented hardcore punk, then flipped the entire genre on its ear by introducing dub reggae, Rastafari and their “P.M.A.” (“positive mental attitude”) into the mix. One minute. Twenty seconds. No fooling around.
The Bouncing Souls – “True Believers”
New Jersey punk pillars The Bouncing Souls are known for anthemic singalong choruses, and this is perhaps the most inspiring. “We live our lives another way / never really listen to what they say / the kind of faith that doesn’t fade away / we are the true believers.” Fists in the air for this one.
SIDE D: The Cool Out
Every great adventure comes to an end. But the end can be beautiful. Why take an adventure if not to reflect on the experience later? These numbers are perfect for kicking back, cooling out, and basking in the raditude of your trip.
Joe Strummer – “Omotepe”
The former Clash frontman referred to the late ‘80s as his “wilderness years”, and his musical output was both limited and scattered. But his soundtrack to the acid western Walker is an under-heralded experiment, and “Omotepe” is a loungy number perfectly designed for a post-adventure cocktail.
Souls of Mischief – “93 ‘til Infinity”
The title track from the 1993 debut from Oakland’s Souls of Mischief is truly an underappreciated classic. The writer of this post does not believe a more earnestly chill hip-hop beat exists. So don’t @ me. That’s not even how the internet works.
Brian Eno – “Here Come The Warm Jets”
The title track and closer from synth wizard Brian Eno’s 1974 solo debut is a vast and soaring — yet ultimately understated — soundscape. I don’t exactly know what the Warm Jets are, but the tone here is definitely warm. Perfect for the turndown.
Lemon Jelly – “Ramblin’ Man”
British trip-hoppers Lemon Jelly close things out by serving up a fluttery, atmospheric, ultra-chill ode to rambling. Aside from a global city roll call, the lyrics are a minimalist contemplation: “Well I dunno / Some of us are cave dwellers, some of us live in houses, some of us like to be loose-footed / I’m a ramblin’ man.”
You can also check out the full playlist on Spotify!
What songs fuel your adventures? We’d love to hear ‘em! Send us your selections for Volume 2 at firstname.lastname@example.org.