“…gonna rock down to Electric Avenue and then we’ll take it higher.” – Eddie Grant
I have always had favorite songs for driving, whether it be speeding down a freeway to the rhythm of songs like L.A. Woman (The Doors or Billy Idol), Radar Love (Golden Earing), Born to Run (Bruce Springsteen), Hollywood Nights (Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band) or Mercury Blues (David Lindley); or cruising sweetly down on a country road with windows open at sunset, listening to the emotive melodies of Windows Are Rolled Down (Amos Lee), Dock of the Bay (Otis Redding), or Come Away With Me (Norah Jones); and when I am feeling nostalgic, King of the Road (Roger Miller) and Route 66 (Natalie Cole) ground me. Music has always been an important part of my road trip experience.
And often when I hear a particular song, it brings back vivid memories of the last time I heard it, a special time when I heard it, or some unimportant time that just sticks in my mind. For example, one might think that hearing Somebody’s Baby (Jackson Browne) might bring back a scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, yet when I hear it, for some inexplicable reason, it returns me to a cruising through my home town in my mother’s car likely some time in the late eighties—windows down, traveling north on Cleveland Drive. The memory is extremely vivid—how I felt, the air temperature, the smell, the sky…amazing in its recall.
In researching this phenomenon for this blog post, I happened upon a well-researched post—“Why Do the Songs from Your Past Evoke Such Vivid Memories?” by Christopher Bergland, in Psychology Today. In it, Bergland writes that, “The songs we love become woven into a neural tapestry entwined with the people, seasons, and locations throughout our lifespan.”
Bergland cites numerous neuropsychological studies and concludes that, “it appears that if you haven’t heard a song in years, the neural tapestry representing that song stays purer and the song will evoke stronger specific memories of a time and place from your past. The memories linked to overplayed songs can become diluted because the neural network is constantly being updated.” My intention is to reach out through this blog and social media to our readers (like you) to discover new music for this road trip to weave a new neural tapestry of memories for Neo’s and my future. I am hoping that our readers will suggest playlists for particular legs of the route.
I contacted Christopher Bergland and explained my idea and here is his response:
Good morning, John — Thanks for your note. Yes! You can definitely quote or reference anything I’ve written about music, memories, neuroscience, etc. If you Google “Bergland music neuroscience Psychology Today” you’ll probably find a bunch of other posts on this topic.
The electric Tesla father-son road trip with region-specific playlists is such a great idea! One of my “bucket list” items is to rent an RV and spend a few weeks visiting national parks out west with my 10-year old daughter.
The first year I did the Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley National Park I made a 3-CD compilation of “Songs From the West” that became anthems for me during preparation and my support crew blasted this “soundtrack” from the crew van out on the course. My “Songs of the West” playlist started with “The Promised Land” by Bruce Springsteen, had lots of tracks from Joshua Tree by U2, 70s Southern California soft-rock like “Gold” by John Stewart and Jackson Browne’s “The Fuse”, some mellow singer-songwriter stuff like “Sweet Baby James”, and oldies such as “Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” by Judy Garland and “Danny Boy” by Bing Crosby.
Thanks again for giving me a heads up about your upcoming father-son trek. Have a safe and wonderful trip!
All the best,
Truly, this man is a kindred spirit.
So how about it, readers? Let’s make it 10-songs. Please send your playlist (song name and artist) to email@example.com or post it on our Facebook page and I will post them on the “Back Seat” menu on teslaroadtrip.blog for all to see.
Think about the themes of the trip—electric, father/son, clean energy, etc. and the various places and roads we will be tackling. Then we will endeavor to post a video clip of us driving to it on Instagram while on the trip.
Check out the music mentioned in this post.