Music is an integral part of the travel experience: it amps you up on adventures or calms you down on the beach, attaches memories of a time or place to a song that you can revisit, and drowns out the sound of screaming children on cramped modes of transportation. With this in mind I decided to share some of my favorite travel tunes with you every week, and since I’m a big fan of alliteration, I decided to do it on Tuesdays.
Sometimes, just listening to a familiar song when you’re on the road can make you homesick. Imagine, then, what it’s like to listen to a song about homesickness when you’re already pining to see a familiar face and hear a language you understand — suddenly you become a borderline xenophobe who will stop at nothing to get your lips on the sweet, burning tarmac of your native airport. That’s what Joni Mitchell‘s “California” does to me, at least.
Mitchell (who up until about 5 years ago I thought was Sissy Spacek‘s musical alter-ego) created the perfect ode to homesickness with “California.” Throughout the track she alternates between waxing nostalgic about her European travels and wailing enthusiastically about the prospect of going home to the West Coast, and since the song was written at the very end of the 60s it has a hopeful hippie vibe that transforms the idea of homesickness into something far less negative than how we normally consider it.
I related well to this feeling of optimistic sentiment for home at the tail end of a five month stint in Europe a few years ago, but it was New York I was lusting after from across the Atlantic. As much as I enjoyed sitting on benches in Paris and going to random parties in Spain like Joni, my heart likewise called out for home — or at least a place where I could afford to eat something other than baguette sandwiches.
So do yourself a favor and add “California” to your “Coming Home” playlist (I know you have one). You won’t be disappointed with how much it puts an upswing on the end of a vacation. And seriously, look at a picture of Joni Mitchell next to a picture of Sissy Spacek. Has anyone ever seen them in the same room at the same time?!
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