Road Trippin': A West Texas/Big Bend Playlist
Right after Christmas, Rocks Off hopped into our car and headed straight for the bowels of West Texas. It's a long drive to Big Bend, mostly through the middle of nowhere, huge swaths of land where even AM radio can't reach. Twelve hours in the car demands a certain kind of playlist that, like a gas station cup of coffee, keeps you energized and motivated to keep on truckin'. Luckily, we were armed with a thick book of CDs, a mixtape provided by friends well versed in the desolate landscape of Big Bend Country, and our trusty ipod. Below, our road trip playlist.The Zombies
While we're still in civilization, it's time to listen to something that sounds vintage now but was way ahead of its time when it came out. What's awesome about the Zombies is that none of their songs sound alike, yet every song is unified by singer Colin Blunstone's moody voice and Rod Argent's minor chord-heavy keys. The result? You can listen to them for hours and not get bored. Handy when everywhere you look are suburbs. KTSW 89.9
When we get to San Antonio, Rocks Off hits the scanner to see what's on the dial. We remember several years back that San Antonio had a good Oldies station that played some deeper cuts as opposed to the standards but we can't seem to find it now. However, San Marcos' college radio station was playing modern psych and garage-rock on Monday afternoon and it was really good. Unfortunately, we didn't catch the name of any of the bands, and their website only lists the DJs for that time slot, not the program's name. So thank you, Martin D. and Ty B. It looks like KTSW breaks often for sports and news, but there's also a local show focusing on bands from the Hill Country area that airs Monday evenings. You can even listen online. 2 Skinnee J's
Nerdcore hip-hop at its best. You have to love any band that can reference Methuselah *and* make it rhyme. The Evaporators
Five hours now in the car and our will is starting to crumble. Truck stop coffee is not helping. We need something energetic. Several years ago, we went to a show at Sound Exchange hoping to hear Vancouver pop-punk band The Smugglers. They played with two other groups we'd never heard of, Thee Goblins and The Evaporators. Turns out they're basically the same band, led by absurdist Canadian indie radio personality and professional annoying person Nardwuar the Human Serviette . They blew us away. We bought a split album by the bunch, and it's one of our all-time favorite one-off records. Perfect thing to wake us up from highway hypnosis.
Rocks Off has to admit she never really was a Lucinda fan, originally thinking Miss Williams leaned too heavy on the country side of alt-country. But lately we've come around. For one, we love her careless voice - like Dylan, she's not concerned with singing on-key, and there's a kind of punk aesthetic to that. For two, in a genre that is very chick-heavy, she seems to have risen above the status quo with music that's almost genre-defying. And? She's an excellent songwriter. We were wrong. We admit it. Besides, what could be better for a drive through the Chihuahuan Desert? Bob Dylan
The Royal Albert Hall live album recorded in 1966 is our favorite Bob Dylan album because it perfectly encapsulates the essential Dylan - folk hero turned musical God. Also, the live version of "Like a Rolling Stone" from that recording may be the best rock and roll song of all time. With the scathing lyrics and the electric guitar, it's one giant "Fuck you" to the world of music as it was back then. Rocks Off has heard this song a million times, and she still gets chills when the piano, guitar, organ and drums all clash together at the very beginning of the song. Dwight Yoakam
Rocks Off finally arrives in Big Bend National Park, the least-visited national park in the country. We meet our friends, one of whom is a geologist on his umpteenth trip to the Chisos, at a bar called La Kiva and listen to a cover band featuring the park's head botanist play covers of the Grateful Dead. Later, as we're heading to our campsite in our friends' four-wheel drive (that's how remote the campsite is) they pop in their own years-old mixtape meant to evoke the wilds of West Texas. It relies heavily on Dwight Yoakam. We get our tents set up, cook a simple campside dinner and watch the stars while listening to Doyle Hargraves sing about how time doesn't matter in the middle of nowhere.
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