Hello, I Love You

… won’t you tell me your name?

One of the most common themes as summer has faded in New Zealand is fellow travelers sighing about how lonely and exhausting it is. Backpacker Standard Time makes it easy to make friends, but every time you go to a new city you start over again. You’re always tearing your heart apart even as you expand it with new people and places.

Sometimes you just need a theme song while you’re traveling: someone else who has experienced the same world and put your emotions to music. So, here’s a 14-song playlist (in honor of first coming to New Zealand in 2014) whose lyrics make so much sense to me this year.

Home  by Matt Gresham

This song wove it’s way into my psyche through a German friend who couldn’t even remember its name.

I picked up my life and I stuffed it in the bag
One way ticket out and I’m never coming back
People say I’m crazy ’cause I left my world behind
There’s no map could tell the world just why I’m leaving
But home is not a place, it’s a feeling
Maybe I’ll find it maybe I won’t I gotta keep on moving even if I don’t
I realized that’s my time so I moved so far away
You know I look back at the city where my dream would slowly fade
I know the road less traveled is the one I’d rather take
But the loneliness is worth it for the memories I’ll make

Anywhere With You Is Home  by Kurt Hugo Schneider
Sometimes you get a partner to travel with.
I’ve run around on the beaches of L.A
Skipped stones by the bay
I’ll take you there some day
Bumped a ride off a cabby in Mumbai
We saw those Northern Lights burning up the night
Got lost on a trail in Peru, took in that Rio view
And I did it all with you
My passport’s thick from everything we’ve done
But, I think we’ve only just begun

Little Wanderer by Death Cab For Cutie
While this song is technically a romantic song of partners on opposite sides of the globe, it is a lot about my relationship with my mom. She’s been on the other end of the Skype call while I keep wandering all over the world.
But I couldn’t make you out through the glitches
It’s how it always seems to go
So we say our goodbyes over messenger
As the network overloads
When the network overloads
You’re my wanderer, little wanderer
Off across the sea
You’re my wanderer, little wanderer
Won’t you wander back to me
Back to me
Always fall asleep when you’re waking
I count the hours on my hands
Doing the math to the time zone you’re at
Is an unseen part of the plan

The Nights  by Avicii

Not quite how my dad talked to me about travel (he called me a boomerang… always leaving, always coming back), but the theme is still striking.

He said, “One day you’ll leave this world behind
So live a life you will remember.”
My father told me when I was just a child
These are the nights that never die
My father told me
When thunder clouds start pouring down
Light a fire they can’t put out
Carve your name into those shining stars
He said, “Go venture far beyond the shores.
Don’t forsake this life of yours.
I’ll guide you home no matter where you are.
Nine days, 36+ hours driving. Slowly, slowly, me and Goldie.

Chicago by Sufjan Stevens

Domestic travel was what first introduced me to van life. Although I haven’t gotten to New York yet, the western states are mine. So many places I’ve fallen in love with as I’ve woken up to the sunrise.

I drove to New York
In a van, with my friend
We slept in parking lots
I don’t mind, I don’t mind
I was in love with the place
In my mind, in my mind
I made a lot of mistakes
In my mind, in my mind
You came to take us
All things go, all things go
To recreate us
All things grow, all things grow

Woke Up In A Car  by Something Corporate
I woke up in a car
I traced away the fog
So I could see the Mississippi on her knees
I’ve never been so lost
I’ve never felt so much at home
Please write my folks and throw away my keys
I woke up in a car
I met a girl who kept tattoos
For homes that she had loved
If I were here I’d paint my body
Till all my skin was gone
Gisborne and the misty beach

Trip The Light  by Garry Schyman ft Alicia Lemke

My original theme song for this year: keep going.

If all the days come to pass
Are behind these walls
I’ll be left at the end of things
In a world kept small
Travel far from what I know
I’ll be swept away
I need to know I can be lost
And not afraid
We’re gonna trip the light
We’re gonna break the night
And we’ll see with new eyes
When we trip the light

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful by Florence + The Machine
How big, how blue, how beautiful
How big, how blue, how beautiful
And every city was a gift
And every skyline was like a kiss upon the lips
What are we gonna do?
We’ve opened the door, now it’s all coming through
Tell me you see it too
We opened our eyes and it’s changing the view
Tunnel Beach, Dunedin

Good Life  by OneRepublic
To my friends in New York, I say hello
My friends in L.A. they don’t know
Where I’ve been for the past few years or so
From Paris to China to Colorado
Sometimes there’s airplanes I can’t jump out
Sometimes there’s bullshit that don’t work now
We all got our stories but please tell me
What there is to complain about

Continental Breakfast by Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile
An American friend turned me onto this one.
I cherish my intercontinental friendships
We talk it over continental breakfast
In a hotel in East Bumble-wherever
Somewhere on the sphere, around here

Long Way Around  by The Dixie Chicks

People keep asking me this year when I’m going to settle down. I don’t know, I truly don’t.

Well, I fought with a stranger, and I met myself
I opened my mouth, and I heard myself
It can get pretty lonely when you show yourself
Guess I could have made it easier on myself
But I, I could never follow
No, I, I could never follow
Well, I never seem to do it like anybody else
Maybe someday, someday I’m gonna settle down
If you ever want to find me, I can still be found
Taking the long way
Taking the long way around
The Coathanger, Picton

Weight of Lies by The Avett Brothers
Disappear from your home town
Go and find the people that you know
Show them all of your good parts
Leave town when the bad ones start to show
The weight of lies will bring you down
And follow you to every town ’cause
Nothing happens here that doesn’t happen there
When you run make sure you run
To something and not away from ’cause
Lies don’t need an aeroplane to chase you down

My Way by Frank Sinatra
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve traveled each and every highway
But more, much more than this
I did it my way
Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way
Mt. John Observatory, Tekapo

Now or Never  by Outasight
So last without least…
While it’s a different theme than most of the rest, I can’t have a New Zealand backpackers playlist complete without the song that was always in the background the last time I came here.
It’s time to decide if its worth the fight or letting it slide
And I drew the line at wasting away or waiting to be saved
Yay y’all made my own luck in my head on straight and kicked up the dust
And the money well it don’t mean much I did it for the love and that was enough
The way I dreamed it ain’t the way it played out missed
Every road that looked to be the safe route
No directions I made my way out I don’t give a damn what they say no way now
We don’t care what the people say
And we don’t care what they want to do
And we don’t care about it anymore
We do what we want I ain’t wasting a no more time
Its now or never I’m about to get mine

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