George Washington Parkway Playlist

This weekend's refreshing blast of warm air gave me a last chance to enjoy one of my favorite activities -- driving on the George Washington Parkway in the dark, with the windows down, listening to some appropriate tunes. If you ever find yourself needing to leave or come into Virginia in the evening, I highly recommend taking the GW Parkway. Nothing beats driving with a nice breeze, shrouded in trees, no street lights, sometimes more deer than cars ... that's about as close to nature as I like to be. My favorite time to listen to music is when I'm driving, and I definitely have certain albums that I pick for certain trips. (This was my Pennsylvania Turnpike Playlist from a few months ago.) Here are my go-to albums for this journey, along with a song from each one.

Cass McCombs - A, "What Isn't Nature"
McCombs sounds vulnerable, excited, nervous, often at the same time. He sounds like he just needs a hug, or maybe a blanket.

Smog - A River Ain't Too Much to Love, "Say Valley Maker"
Smog's Bill Callahan is sort of the opposite of McCombs. He's so assured, it sounds like he's only telling us half the story, keeping the good stuff for himself. Very meditative stuff.

Panda Bear - Person Pitch, "Bros"
The hooting owl at the beginning of this one makes it a perfect choice for the Parkway. But, as with most Animal Collective-related albums, there are a bunch of bizarre sounds that might have you thinking something is wrong with your car.

Skip James - 1931 Sessions, "Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues"
This album is arguably the best of Mississippi Records' recent batch of reissues. As downtrodden as you'd expect a song called "Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues" to be.

Modest Mouse - The Moon and Antarctica, "3rd Planet"
Modest Mouse has been making nighttime driving music for more than a decade, but Isaac Brock and Co. perfected that microgenre with the first six songs on their 2001 major label debut.

By David Malitz |  November 4, 2008; 10:55 AM ET On the Road
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And will your Beltway mix be full of jam bands?

Posted by: Hemisphire | November 4, 2008 11:42 AM

Thanks for writing this post. I moved away from Alexandria a few years ago, and one of the biggest things I miss is the GW Parkway and the quick and easy meditative escape it provides. I'd add REM and Bad Religion as equally wonderful, if different, ways to let time and mind slip away.

Posted by: walkdp77 | November 7, 2008 8:38 PM

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