Double UnderScore – On an Open Road

 “Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

For those who may be too young to know better, this is a typewriter. It’s like a printer that only prints one letter at a time.

Let’s see how far I can take this punctuation theme. Underscores are now used to create a visual spacing between characters when white-space isn’t permitted, such as in website URLS. I’ll be going old-school in this column, though. Originally underscores were used on typewriters to apply underlining to text. Underlining is us

ed during manuscript markup to indicate text that requires emphasis, such as italics.For an extra bit of punnery, ‘score’ is also synonymous with ‘background music’.In summary, what I’m setting out to do here is introducing you to some music you may not have considered that you may want to put some emphasis on. Instead of throwing a whole long playlist at you, each UnderScore will choose a single track for your to build on with your own collection.

‘But up there it says “Double UnderScore”.’ Very astute of you to notice. Obviously enough, a double underscore is when the text is underlined twice. As it applies here, it’s when I can’t settle on just one track and serve up a double helping for you. Now I’ve rambled on long enough. Let’s get to the music.

Summer is upon us here in the Northern Hemisphere and along with it comes the vacation season. People will be taking to the roads and rails en masse. Now no self-respecting music fan will leave home without their mp3 player or CD wallet but throwing things on shuffle risks falling asleep at the wheel to the dulcet tones of Great Lake Swimmers or Bon Iver. So if you’d like, consider this a lifeline to help keep you awake and alive as you hit the ol’ dusty trails in seek of adventure.

Elbow – Station Approach

Guy Garvey and his crew may start the lead track off of Leaders of the Free World in somewhat of a slow and mopey tone but that’s probably a good place to start your road-tripping playlist. You always want to stretch and ease yourself into any strenuous activity. And don’t worry, Station Approach quickly builds its energy so you’ll soon be bounding down the road.

The Go-Betweens – Here Comes the City

If anybody knows how to travel, it would be these guys. Being from Australia they had no choice but to hit the road (or air, rather) to introduce themselves to new markets. They’ve worked in Glasgow and London in the U.K.; Paris, France and Portland, OR, and that’s not even mentioning tours. So it’s no surprise they’ve perfectly captured the chugging, grinding experience of riding the rails in this track. After a few hours on the road with the hot sun beating down, your energy will be flagging. Put this track on to give you some momentum and keep your wheels rolling.

As an added bonus, I’m going to give an extra plug to How to Pack Like a Rock Star by Shaun Hubert (bass player for Rococode). North American tours can go for months. After cramming 4 or 5 musicians plus their instruments and gear into a beaten-up old minivan you don’t have much space left for clothes. Who better to ask for tips on how to pack efficiently? On your behalf, Hubert has talked to better than 40 musicians adept at living out of their suitcases. To tap that wealth of knowledge, pick up a copy of his book.

Do you have any road trip tips? Playlist suggestions? Places to visit or avoid?

Post a comment or drop a line to I’m always interested to hear what you think.


One Comment Add yours

  1. soundhippy says:

    You have put me in the mood to pack a bag and hit the road in the car I don’t have. Summer road trips, does it get much better? I’m remembering the trip my best friend and I made from Owen Sound to Belleville (took us a good six hours with an unintentional “detour”) for Big Music Fest back in 2008. Later wrote a song about that road trip! As for playlist suggestions, “Dear Prudence” and any Sam Roberts song come to mind. (The first time I heard “Rarefied” was on that road trip.) Oh, and “Shoop” by Salt-N-Pepa (dating myself here), just because it’s the only rap song I know all the words to and the car is the perfect place to indulge.

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