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Playlist: Atlantic Sailing

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

The way we digest music is often in relation to our surroundings, it marks a place or paints the picture of a certain time we come to understand in that relative harmony. I’ve just returned from a sailing trip where I spent five days out in the Atlantic Ocean and in that time I was able to digest music in a way that I hadn’t before. I don’t know that I could say that the music is more meaningful but there were some songs that came to mean more to me during this trip and that’s what this playlist is.

For some reason, Neil Young’s “Old Man” really came to be the theme song of this trip. It was in no way new to me, but it captured a certain idea that was synonymous with this trip and I think it’s because it holds the notion of passing on a tradition. Sailing and the idea of being a part of the ocean is as old as time and is a tradition that has been passed on through generations. It comes from a respect and a place where life is brought to the basics and I think this song speaks to that.

The second song is “Alameda” by Elliot Smith because it carries the perspective of a song that has a troubled theme but with a tone that lets you know that it’s just the way life is. Uplifting wouldn’t be the right word, as it’s more of a trial, but a sentiment you often feel when you’re out in the middle of the ocean.

“Spinning My Wheels” is the first song off the new My Moring Jacket album and it is really subtle in the most perfect ways. An exercise in the perfection of melody, Jim James lulls us into a dream with his voice and it was a perfect song to sail along to, especially when the wind was trailing.

Phoebe Bridgers has become a recent staple of my listening library and the second song off her latest album, “Garden Song”, has some of the best lyrics of any that I can think of in recent memory, thus making it’s way on the playlist. Similarly, Tame Impala has come out with maybe the best album of the year and I had to have a song from it and “Is it True” best fit this playlist.

The version of “Country Road” that Jack Johnson performed with Paula Fuga is in many ways special and it was a soothing song for a person on a boat surrounded by water and I found a new love for it out at sea. For the same reason, “Charlie Boy” by The Lumineers was a song I listened to a few times on this trip and found solace in the tone and lyrics.

Tom Petty’s estate recently released a collection of songs that were recorded around the time he’d done the Wildflowers album and the home recording of an unreleased song called “California” has come to hold a special place in my heart. The harmonica is spot on and it really just made my heart warm to know a person felt such a way about a place.

John Mayer put out an album of live recordings from the Nokia theatre a while ago and the song “Stop This Train” has always been a favorite of mine but it came back into my mind sailing out in the ocean at night. I had the same feelings about a song I just discovered “Where Is My Mind”, a cover of a Pixies song by Maxence Cyrin because it hold such importance in the tone that the words become unnecessary with such a beautiful piano.

I ended this song with Bon Iver’s “Flume” because I feel it is a song of persistent triumph, a song I could listen to over and over again that lets me know to push on and, in many ways, sums up this adventure for me.

The Playlist

Neil Young – “Old Man”

Elliot Smith – “Alameda”

My Morning Jacket – “Spinning My Wheels”

Phoebe Bridgers – “Garden Song”

Tame Impala – “Is It True”

Jack Johnson, Paula Fuga – “Country Road-Live in Santa Barbara”

The Lumineers – “Charlie Boy”

Tom Petty – “California-Home Recording”

John Mayer – “Stop This Train-Live at the Nokia Theatre”

Maxence Cyrin – “Where Is My Mind”

Bon Iver – “Flume”

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