After years of wanting to drive cross-country, I finally got to do it. (oh and definitely expect a video about it!) 12 days, 4,500miles, 4 National Parks and 2 bags of baby carrots later... my friend Alli and I arrived in LA. It was an epic adventure with a once-in-a-lifetime kinda feel. (Peep the hashtag on instagram for the trip: #KymandAlligoWest !) So for this Tuesday Turn-On, I bring you a special playlist straight from our trip. It's not nearly as coherent as my other playlists. Prepare for a musical voyage of genres and decades. To give you an idea of how it all came to be, here's the path we took:
The playlist begins with a sweet farewell to NYC with a mash-up of Frank Sinatra's NY & JayZ & Alicia's Empire State of Mind. Alli and I blasted this as we emerged from the Holland Tunnel at 5pm, driving off into the sunset... Then Seinabo Sey's Younger served as a reminder that there's no time like the present. "Cause you know you ain't getting any younger, are ya?" Next is Yuna's Live your Life because despite all the many people that tried to convince me to stay, I knew this change was the right thing for me.
As the night closed in, I drew closer to my hometown of Baltimore. I remembered a track my younger brother introduced me to: AWOLNATION Sail: Sail with me into the dark. I was speeding fast to catch a glimpse of him before it got too late. We arrived just in time to see my parents' sleepy eyes staying open to wish me well on my travels. Nas' Daughters is for my amazing parents who've put up with me and all my antics and troubles throughout the years. And Home, well... this one is for my family - because despite the fact that they had to sell the home I grew up in this year... visiting them anywhere still feels like coming "home".
The next day we set off for Nashville where I developed a very unexpected affinity for country music. Before this, the closest I've ever come to listening to country was the electro-rockabilly track by Drop the Lime, Hot as Hell. But a night out in Nashville introduced me to Darius Rucker's Wagon Wheel*. From Nashville to Nola, we passed through Alabama and Mississippi singing Country Roads*.
With thousands of miles to go, our NY stylishness quickly deteriorated to Sweatpants and snapbacks. But nevermind that, we weren't slowing down anytime soon. "Don't be mad cuz I'm doing me better than you doing you." Upon entering NOLA, Alli suddenly remembered a gem of a song she knew from growing up in the south: That Butt Thing*. It reminded me of the Zydeco version of a song I grew up with in the Northeast: Doin' the Butt.
Pulled into Austin and set up camp in the living room of Those Poor Serfs. Lead by a longtime friend, singer-songwriter Derek Kinsaul, the band gave us a couch to sleep on and a shiny new EP which ended up on repeat in our car. Drawn and Quartered was a favorite... And of course I couldn't go through his hometown without a nod to an Austin legend and good NY friend, Joseph King. Listen and download his single, Call Bobby*.
But no matter how comfortable Austin was, I couldn't miss the Grand Canyon. So onward we pushed. I'd been looking forward to this part of the trip for so long! In one day we drove from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon, through Painted Desert, finally landing in Zion. The landscapes were breathtaking and Best day of my Life came on the radio as the sun was setting in the desert. Timely.
As we pushed southwest from Utah, the music returned my familiar electro/hip-hop tastes. KNAS was our champagne-popping #turnup song of our night in Vegas and even though I kinda hate the song, #SELFIE was the appropriate soundtrack for the high-heeled, mini-dress clad, hair extension adorned girls surrounding us.
Then we packed the car for last time...fireworks from New Mexico, vodka from Texas, and hangover from Vegas-
Barely able to function (please no loud noises!), we found Jarreau Vandal's smooth cover of Hold On, We're Going Home* to help us through the final leg of the trip. The triumphant track Rather Be was another favorite as we drew closer to sunny California:
We're a thousand miles from comfort We have traveled land and sea But as long as you are with me, There's no place I'd rather be...
If you gave me a chance I would take it It's a shot in the dark but I'll make it
This concludes my longest Tuesday Turn-on EVER. I hope you guys enjoy the journey as much as I did. Listen to the Great American Roadtrip on Soundcloud by clicking here. (Songs on this page with *Asterisks* have FREE downloads)
Kisses from Los Angeles,