As I travel around this vast rock, there are ups and downs to be sure. That's to be expected. And as much as I believe solo travel is the way to go, because it pushes you more, there are still those stark moments when I find myself utterly alone. Sometimes I cherish it, sometimes I loath it. In those latter moments I need something...
When I first started traveling I never pulled the iPod out of my backpack. I walked down solitary streets with my ears open to the environment, trying to soak it all in. It was nice but I kept finding myself getting down for some reason. Then one day I realized what was missing: A soundtrack to my exploration.
When I find myself walking down a strange street in a foreign land and I feel that cold twinge I pull out my iPod. It contains my entire music library - a full 90 Gigabytes. I spin the wheel to find one of my go-to's: Ugly by the Screaming Females; Passover by The Black Angels; Ziggy Stardust by the immortal Bowie; Mermaid Avenue, that marvelous collaboration between Billy Bragg and Wilco; or any of numerous albums by Nick Cave or Tom Waits. When the music hits I'm suddenly not alone. I'm boosted by some inexplicable force to push on into the unknown. An old friend is walking beside me. I don't think I could do this trip without music.
There is one album above all others I keep going back to. In happy times, in lonely times, in exciting times, in doubtful times, in my darkest times to be sure, I turn to The Monitor by Titus Andronicus.
This album has been with me since 2010 and when I put it on, I'm with a familiar friend, one who speaks my language. When I'm excited, this friend helps lead the charge into the field. When I'm down, this friend gives me a pep talk via distorted guitars and wailing vocals. When I feel lost this friend delivers poignant lyrics that I seem to relate to more and more everyday.
The whole album is great. I strongly urge everyone to give it at least one spin. Every song touches something deep inside of me. I've included just one of the ten below.
I don't normally believe in magic or sorcery but when it comes to music, I'm a believer. Music can help you through anything. Music can change you. Music can save you.
You have got a lot of nerve to behave the way that you do,
making me listen to all of your carrying on
You are not the only one who thinks that life is so cruel.
Me, I have got problems of my own.
But if you talk and nobody's listening
then it's almost like being alone.
So it's alright the way you piss and moan
It's alright, the way you piss and moan
Like the time traveler who killed his grandfather, these cycles are bringing me down.
We could build a nice life together if we don't kill each other first.
Are you just too fucked up to understand me or is it the other way around?
Maybe it's both, and I just don't know which is worse.
So you better thank your lucky stars,
you don't know half what I know is true.
But it's alright if you think that you do.
It's alright, if you think that you do.
Was it the devil, or was it the lord
who gave you those words,
the ones I never heard?
It's alright to kill and it's alright to steal
if you're willing to hold up your part of the deal.
There are plenty of things that are worth dying for
but you'll never know until you open that door.
And reasons for living are seldom and few
and if you see one you better stick to it like glue, yes it's true, it is true.
If I were there to keep satisfied all of your carnal desires,
then it might be my place to say what is or isn't forbid
So how can I hold it against you if you answer the call of the wild?
No matter how brilliant a woman, you're only a kid.
But if you know that nobody is ever going
to suffer for you like I did
Well it's alright the way that you live,
It's alright the way that you live.
It's alright now