Road Trip Soundtrack: 6,000 Miles of Father-Daughter Bonding
By KEEN Ambassador James Joiner
I spent 12 days driving cross country and back in a pickup truck with my 14-year-old daughter and large dog. What could’ve possibly gone wrong?
Actually, less than you might think.
Sure, we had moments of cabin – make that in-cab – fever, and retina burnout when it came to middle America’s endless summer-burnt brown hills. But in our family the road trip experience is a rite-of-passage adventure, and no good adventure comes without a little suffering. Even if my idea of suffering (hiking in a 110º heatwave) and a teenager’s (no Facetime or Starbucks) are a little different.
One thing I figured would be a point of contention on our 6,000-mile trek is the soundtrack. Anyone who’s logged long hours behind the wheel knows the right tunes go a long way toward smoothing out both miles and morale, and our tastes don’t always align. At first we alleviated this with satellite radio, but quickly became frustrated when it revealed itself to be a loop of the same songs over and over and over (and over!) again. Love ‘em or not, how many times in one hour do you need to hear The National’s latest single?
One thing I figured would be a point of contention on our 6,000-mile trek is the soundtrack. Anyone who’s logged long hours behind the wheel knows the right tunes go a long way toward smoothing out both miles and morale, and our tastes don’t always align.
– James Joiner
Somewhere around Ohio, we turned to our respective music collections.
Because I’m a member of the last generation that used mixtapes not just to share music but also to convey and influence emotions, I view playlists as structured, nuanced narratives. It’s not uncommon for me to spend half an hour picking between songs, making sure they flow together in some highly personal, esoteric manner. My daughter, on the other hand, can whip up a 100-song selection in minutes, deftly piling on tracks with loose criteria like “cool name,” “hot singer,” or “why not?”
One thing I can say for sure is that, 6,000 miles and a very numb butt later, I have a new appreciation for her technique. Sure, not every song is a banger, but when you have the time to kill, does it need to be? I thoroughly enjoyed even the stuff I didn’t like, hopefully proving that, despite scientific reports to the contrary, you can be open to new music after the age of 33 – sometimes you just have to be bullied into it by a stubborn 14-year-old.
So what did we listen to and love? Here are our playlists…
KEEN Ambassador James Joiner puts many miles on his pickup chasing music bands and fish while documenting culture, adventure, and the environment. You can follow James on Instagram at @jjamesjoiner.