Staff Top 10
Top Ten Songs/Lyrics From Get Miles

i’ve been home a while now, and yesterday I used my last giro to have my trip photographs developed. I start a new job on Monday, my dodgy foot is much better now, and yes, I’m already making plans for the next adventure. Like everybody else was for about five minutes during The Kaiser Chiefs’ Philadelphia Live 8 performance, I’m thinking about Africa. But I have to focus. I need closure. The photographs, the new job, the reunion with friends and family, it’s all about closure. Regaining a grip on music is important too. I was keeping an eye on Stylus periodically, and it seems there’s been a lot to get excited about in my absence.

However, my 3000+ songs kept me company well. Due to Get Miles, I had a genuine reason to source out other sounds, and was taken on some fascinating and often surreal musical journeys as a result. I think it’s fitting, now I have the desired distance, closure, to analyse some of the tunes that rocked the journey, which became so important, that sound tracked the “trip of a lifetime.” Sure, it was only six months, but (as sanctimonious as this may sound) a trip like that changes you. But only if you let it…

10. “This Is The One” by The Stone Roses
“I’d like to leave the country / For a month of Sundays / Burn the town where I was born”

Adolescent, petulant and futile—but I think most of us feel like this at some point in our youth. I had to work to pay for my trip, but I was lucky too. I was lucky to have the support of close friends and family, to have a former schoolteacher-cum-travel guru helping plan my itinerary, and to have the opportunity to live out this fantasy. This song, its drive, ideology and conviction—the conviction of those three lines—feels like living, really living, and I remember listening to it on the roof of a dirty old hotel, shaking with excitement, the first kiss of independence and of vigour. I’d just moved in to Kathmandu.

9. “Hotel California” by The Eagles

Enough said.

8. “Dirty Girl” by Eels

I don’t want to talk about this right now, but suffice to say I find listening to this song extremely upsetting.

7. “Lay Down This World” by Soledad Brothers

The last Soledad Brothers record, Voice Of Treason, made it onto my mp3 player just before I left. Having been sent it for review in December, but being way too busy in the run-up to my leaving to cover it, I formed a half-bond with the record early on in the trip. The sheer energy behind this, its visceral lead vocals and zombie congregation back-ups, the “done all my travellin’” verse, made it irresistible to the weary wanderer. I used to play this when “DJing” in bars and it often got people moving, and in some cases singing along. Not bad, eh?

6. “Dhoom Machale” by Sunidhi Chauhan

In the streets, the clubs, the playground of the school I taught at—this song is everywhere in South Asia right now. Taken from the Bollywood super-smash 5. Dhoom, the bright young things in Bangkok and Calcutta adored this—and why the hell not? Nuts pseudo-neo-classical Indian strings and that tribal death knell rhythm that lead into the chorus—this is going to be the soundtrack to everything in South Asia for a long, long time.

5. “Hurricane” by Bob Dylan

Drinking cheap Indian-made scotch, spilling people’s pints, playing pool on a broken table, shouting, swearing, chewing the fat with a friend—“Hurricane” was the soundtrack to every Friday night in the Tom & Jerry pub, Kathmandu. Something about the raw edge in a lot of Dylan’s full band recordings, I think “Absolutely Sweet Marie” and “Queen Jane Approximately” have this too—make them incredibly viable for rowdy bars. A friend told me they use this in the film Dazed & Confused, when the two main characters walk in to some dingy pool hall or other. I haven’t seen Dazed & Confused, but if you have, Tom & Jerry’s was very like that. Apparently.

I didn’t even know the song before I went away, and got to like it so much that the bar staff would insist on playing it for me every time I attended.

4. “I Don’t Have The Map” by Idlewild

Because when you’re walking the streets of the dirtiest, most backward city imaginable, watching the locals bathe in and drink from the water of the Ganges, charred bodies floating passed from recent Hindu cremations, people stopping in the street to take a shit—you need someone to talk to. Picture me, if you can, weeping like a lost child, hurling a chair against the wall of the WORST HOTEL ROOM EVER, with this on my iPod.

3. “Resham Periri” (Traditional folk song of Nepal)

Ek nali bhanduk
Dui nali bhanduk
Mera lai takeko

Udera jaunkee
Dhara ma bhanjang
Mera lai takeko

Resham periri, resham periri…
I think it was about monkeys and prayer flags, or something.

2. “If She Wants Me” by Belle & Sebastian
“I took a book and went into the forest / I climbed a hill, I wanted to look down on you / But all I saw was twenty miles of wilderness so I came home”

Ever had something distilled so pure? This is, essentially, my six-month trip in thirty-three words. When I arrived back in the UK, I was utterly sick of travel: emotionally and (owing to the worst crutches ever invented) physically exhausted. Certain circumstances meant that my trip ended on a bit of a low-note, and the worst thing would be to come home whinging about the experience to people who (somewhat inaccurately) believed it to be nothing more than a “six month holiday.” These people don’t want to hear how tough it was anymore than they want to see your hundreds of photographs.

I came, I saw, I came home a bit miserable. If those people taught me that ignorance truly is bliss, then the lines in this song taught me that, having walked barefoot in the greener grass on the other side, ignorance might not be such a bad option after all.

1. “There Goes The Fear” by Doves

Just then, what I said about ignorance—bullshit. Everything comes in cycles. This is the way of the wanderer:

Six weeks ago, I was ready to come home. Four weeks ago I was glad to be back. Two weeks ago I found the idea of taking on another trip appealing, if only it were possible. But now…

I’m itching for new experiences, new challenges. I’m not being challenged here, right now. I want to feel invigorated, stimulated, and interested, and that’s what travel does. Sure, I fell off a motorbike and ran out of cash, but all that seems so unimportant now. I listened to “There Goes The Fear” on the plane from Manchester. The lights of the night-time airport runway reminded me of the Last Broadcast cover. I wept uncontrollably to this song at so many points whilst I was away, sometimes in despair, in exhaustion, in joy.

Two forewarnings were issued to me before departure. One was that any who spends any time in Asia will experience every possible human emotion, and that you should love every one of those feelings, benefit from them, take everything they have and then MOVE ON. “There Goes The Fear” is all-purpose, its military drums and its sheer volume convince you of that on first listen. For me, right now at least, “There Goes The Fear” is THE perfect moment in pop, simply because it conveys everything in that first warning about Asia.

The second warning wasn’t so easy to soundtrack: “One thing you’ll learn, is that no matter where you are, no matter how happy or how sad, how rich or poor, how healthy or sick, some people in this world are just really crap.” I’ll let you know when I hear something that fits.

By: Colin Cooper
Published on: 2005-07-29
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