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Old tunes return for Spring Break

Whether you’re facing a 300-500 mile drive down I-5 or several hours on a plane, chances are you need something new to listen to during your ride.

Fortunately, even with the dreary homogeneity obvious in most pop music these days, there are many musical treats that you may have forgotten about or have never heard of that can brighten up any journey.

First, go out and buy a copy of Ryan Adams’ Gold. It’s Adams’ second solo album and has received loads of critical acclaim and all that good stuff. More importantly, it’s perfect driving music.

Gold has over 15 tracks, which encompass genres from guitar and harmonica based rock and roll to melodic piano-backed singer/songwriter ballads. Adams’ influences cover half a century of music, and they can be heard in the way he borrows from soul and blues, rock and country. Just having this one c.d. in your bag will replace the need for all of the Dylan, Stones, and Eagles in your collection. This is key, especially if you’re trying to travel light.

Another excellent driving c.d., one that you may already own and have forgotten about, is the soundtrack from the movie Boys on the Side. The Boys soundtrack can serve to replace any number of cumbersome “women-in-rock” genre albums and has on it many of the essential women anyway.

The Boys soundtrack has songs by Bonnie Raitt (anything of hers is good for the car, by the way), The Pretenders, The Indigo Girls, The Cranberries and many others.

One woman who is not in the Boys soundtrack is Madonna, whose early music is essential to any long stretch in the car. If you have a favorite early Madonna album, take that one (mine’s True Blue). Otherwise, hunt down a copy of The Immaculate Collection and commit yourself to learning the lyrics so that you can sing along at the top of your lungs as you pass yet another slowly moving big rig.

For drivers who are anti-Madonna, any other favorite 1980’s female pop star will do. Good substitutes are Cyndi Lauper and the Bangles.

Finally, get yourself something that reminds you of the excitement of learning to drive, something that will get you excited about being on the road for another several hours. I sometimes dig out the mix tapes I made for my first car, but more often I hunt down the music that went on those mix tapes. My favorites, and these live in the car at all times, are of the mid-90s East Bay pop punk genre-namely Jawbreaker’s Dear You or Bivouac and Tilt’s ‘Till it Kills.

I listened to ‘Till it Kills the day I got my license, driving to my friend Jessie’s house to take her out for celebratory coffee. It never fails to remind me that driving can be fun and exciting, especially if you have the right soundtrack.