Music inspires me and motivates me. It’s not a cliché to say that it also makes me move, seeing as how I will frequently get up out of my seat and do a jig of some sort when a particular song strikes me. Whether I’m at work or at home, I always have music playing. The only time I turn on the TV might be when my Thai friends from the motorcycle taxi stand come to visit. Otherwise, it’s all music, all the time. And whenI take an MP3 player on trips, the music provides a memorable soundtrack to my travels.
Here are some of the albums (and that’s what I play, entire albums, not a random bunch of singles) that I listened to during my recent trip to Myanmar. It’s a seemingly weird mix of musical styles, but it suits my travelling mood most well. Whether I was cycling around the chaotic streets of Mandalay, gliding past the lush green rice fields around Nyaungshwe, or exploring old ruins in Bagan, these were the albums and songs that kept me moving and grooving.
Lynn Lynn – Iron Butterfly
One of my favorite albums in recent years is Sin Za Ba by the Burmese singer and guitarist known as Lynn Lynn (I’ve also seen his name written in English as Lin Lin and Linn Linn). No, I don’t understand all of the lyrics but the emotions that his songs exude are magical. Whenever I’m in Myanmar, I play either this album or Sin Za Ba every single day!
Peter Bruntnell – Peter and the Murder of Crows
The Jackson 5 – Anthology
J. Geils Band – Blow Your Face Out
Various Artists – Guitars of the Golden Triangle: Folk & Pop Music of Myanmar
The music on this compilation CD is described as “Folk and Pop Music of Myanmar (Burma)” on the cover, but in the liner notes that come with the CD there is a much better description, calling it an “unbelievable collection of garage and psychedelic rock, raw folk, blues ballads, and country-western styled music … a product of Shan and Pa-O musicians hailing from the early 1970s.” I’m not sure if “unbelievable” is the best term to describe this music, but it sure is a lot of fun to listen to. If the lively strains of “A Girl Among Girls” by Lashio Thein Aung doesn’t get you out of your seat and dancing on the nearest table, then all hope is lost! Seriously, the songs on here are a blast, all of them exuding an irrepressible zest and vitality … the same sort of spirit that you’ll find amongst the people in Shan State.
The Hollies – The Best Of
Iron Cross – Acoustics
Stevie Ray Vaughan – Couldn’t Stand the Weather
Whiskeytown – Strangers Almanac (Deluxe Edition)
This was the band that Ryan Adams cut his teeth with back in the 1990s and this album remains one of his best efforts. This deluxe 2-CD edition includes some amazing bonus tracks and cover versions. The frenetic pace of “10 Seconds” gets my bike pumping in a faster gear every time.
Tinariwen – Emmaar
Lee Scratch Perry – Arkology
Various Artists – Moody Bluegrass
Various Artists – Miami Sound: Rare Funk & Soul
Wonderful collection of 1970s rare soul treats, including songs by unheralded artists such as Timmy Thomas, Gwen McCrae, Clarence Reid (aka Blowfly), and Little Beaver. Song that gets me singing: “I Get Lifted” by George McCrae.
The Marshall Tucker Band – The Best Of
Toots and the Maytals – Reggae Legends
Tinted Windows – Tinted Windows
Charlie Daniels Band – Fire On The Mountain
Another underrated band that recorded consistently good albums in the 1970s, this one includes the coon-ass classic “Trudy.”
Cut Copy – Free Your Mind
Dan Fogelberg – Captured Angel
Velvet Crush – A Single Odessey
NRBQ – Kick Me Hard
One of America’s greatest bands — ever! — and it qualifies as a crime that they still aren’t better known or appreciated. But ain’t that the way of the world! Fun and fantastic, this album is packed with musical treats such as “Wacky Tobacky” and “Hot Biscuits and Sweet Marie.”
Tonio K. – Amerika
Tom Robinson Band – The Gold Collection
Leroy Hutson – Lucky Fellow: The Best Of
America – Here & Now
A very nice comeback album for an unfairly maligned group. Sweet harmonies and songs with hooks; what’s not to like? The 2-CD set includes a brilliant cover of Nada Surf’s “Always Love.” Sing it again!
Wet Willie – Drippin’ Wet
Empire of the Sun – Ice on the Dune
Steely Dan – Countdown to Ecstasy
Gordon Lightfoot – Gord’s Gold
This one is always a trip staple for me. I make it a point to have “Carefree Highway” playing whenever I’m on the road to Mandalay — or at least the drive in from the airport!
Bruce Hornsby – Greatest Radio Hits
Ronnie Lane – Kuschty Rye: The Singles
Shoes – Present Tense/Tongue Twister
Spinners – Spinners
This still ranks as one of the greatest soul albums of the 1970s. Plenty of hits and no filler. “One of Kind (Love Affair)” gets me every time.
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Skynyrd’s First: The Complete Muscle Shoals Album
Linkin Park – Minutes to Midnight
Dwight Yoakam – 3 Pears
Translator – No Time Like Now
Great 1983 album by the underrated San Francisco rock band. The reissued CD includes bonus tracks such as the blissful instrumental “Cry For a Shadow.”
Dawes – Stories Don’t End
A Flock of Seagulls – The Best Of
The Stylistics – The Very Best Of