By Marco den Ouden
On our last week in Australia, we took a road trip to Margaret River, about 300km south of our daughter's home in Ocean Reef. Seven of us in a rented minivan, five of us over 60. Along the way we played musical roulette. A person would pick a song and our daughter would find the song on her iPhone and play it over the car radio. The next person would pick a song and so on. The biggest hit was playing YMCA which we all sang along to and did the motions for, even Jamie who was driving!
Road trips are a blast and so we start our song journey around the world to exotic and faraway places with a road trip. Billy Bragg takes us on a journey from London to the seaside town of Shoeburyness via the A13, Trunk Road to the Sea. It's a clever reworking of the old standard, Route 66, and almost as raucous as a bunch of old folks singing YMCA!
We make one more stop in Britain before heading east as we circumnavigate the globe. That stop – Sheffield: Sex City according to Pulp in a sensuous and erotic song that sees the city as a sexual entity. The song starts by listing the various areas of the city.
Then we move across the English Channel and up to Berlin where David Bowie shows us around while consumed with the question, Where Are We Now? I think he's looking for a deeper answer than simply, "Berlin".
Next we move down to France, to the town of Mauves to visit the Domaine Jean-Louis Chave. Al Stewart takes us Down in the Cellars for some wine-tasting. After which we board the Orient Express for the middle East, arriving just in time for Breakfast in Baghdad. Korean scat singer, Youn Sun Nah, accompanied by guitarist Ulf Wakenius, amazes with her vocal theatrics, evoking that sad and war-torn city.
From there it's still further east for One Night in Bangkok. Murray Head, as the American protagonist in the musical, Chess, raps to an enticing purveyor of pleasures of the flesh, "I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine!"
And off to Australia where Paul Kelly recounts the horrors of nuclear tests in the small town of Maralinga in the 1950s. Next stop: a hill in New Zealand that sports the longest place name in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records - Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu. Try and say that three times quickly! Well Quantum Jump says it twice quickly in The Lone Ranger, a song that has nothing to do with the hill. They used the name because it sounded like a native American chant and made a good hook.
From New Zealand we cross the Indian Ocean for South Africa where Eddy Grant sings Gimme Hope Jo'anna! - the anti-apartheid song from the 1980s. Jo-burg was not the capital of the country, but it was the largest and most influential city and home to the Constitutional Court.
From Africa we cross the Southern Ocean to the Lassiter Coast of Antarctica. This peninsula actually does a booming tourist trade as it is the closest part of the continent to South America. The Weakerthans share the memoirs of Our Retired Explorer.
We cross to Tierra del Fuego and drive up north to Buenos Aires, one of many places that Belgian singer Johan Verminnen wants to visit. "Ik Wil de Wereld Zien," he sings. I want to see the world.
And we near the end of our tour as we fly up to Michigan. More specifically, Dire Straits relates the history of Telegraph Road, the backbone running from the Ohio border to Metro Detroit.
We wrap up our globetrotting with a fellow who isn't impressed with our globetrotting. "I've Been Everywhere!" sings Hank Snow as he checks off 92 different locales in the Americas. The song ends with the band singing "I know some place you haven't been," to which he retorts, "I've been everywhere!" But those 92 places do not include one of the others I mentioned.
- A13, Trunk Road to the Sea – Billy Bragg
- Sheffield: Sex City – Pulp
- Where Are We Now? – David Bowie
- Down in the Cellars – Al Stewart
- Breakfast in Baghdad – Youn Sun Nah
- One Night in Bangkok – Murray Head
- Maralinga – Paul Kelly
- The Lone Ranger – Quantum Jump
- Gimme Hope Jo'anna – Eddy Grant
- Our Retired Explorer – The Weakerthans
- Ik Wil de Wereld Zien – Johan Verminnen
- Telegraph Road – Dire Straits
- I've Been Everywhere – Hank Snow
- Musi-O-Tunya - Misty in Roots
- The Loneliest Place on the Map - Al Stewart
- Tallulah - Allo Darlin'
- Van Diemmen's Land - U2
- Baker Street- Gerry Rafferty
- Coles Corner- Richard Hawley
- Lord Hereford's Knob - Half Man Half Biscuit
- In the Dutch Mountains - The Nits
- Indian Queens - Nick Lowe
- Fields of Athenry - Paddy Reilly
- Soho Nights – Puppini Susters
- Waterloo – Abba
- Somewhere Down the Crazy River - Robbie Robertson
- There's No More Corn on the Braso - The Walkers
- Cranston – Slim Cessna's Auto Club
- Ho Hey – The Lumineers
- Hollywood – Codeine Velvet Club
- Tom's Diner – Suzanne vega
- Harlem River Drive – Bobbi Humphrey
- Bixby Canyon Bridge – Death Cab for Cutie
- El Paso – Marty Robbins
- Take It Easy – The Eagles
- My World – Avril Lavigne
- Cambodia – Kim Wilde
Guru's wildcard pick:
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: Share: songs that mention specific or obscure locations. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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