There is a playlist on my iTunes that I treasure dearly. It holds the music I had on my iPod shuffle when I travelled the Balkans three years ago. A limited selection of songs that accompanied me on many bus and train rides through the beauty that is South Eastern Europe. Tunes so familiar to me that I know every change of rhythm and every funny note, and for most of them, the entire lyrics. Some of them I started out with, some of them I added while on the road. I picked a selection of them to share with you – because when I am having a melancholic day, I put on some Bosnian coffee and this music and I am transported back to Balkan sunshine and the soft rocking of a bus on a scenic route. And also because right now, it is summer in Berlin and I am happy, and this music makes this feeling ten times more intense.
1. Regina Spektor „Better“
If I kiss you where it’s sore
Will you feel better?
I love this song especially for its piano intro and for Regina’s slightly strange pronunciation of English. While the lyrics are actually quite blue, the melody is wide open. If songs had a colour, to me this one would be as turquoise as the waters of the Bosnian rivers I love so much.
2. Dixie Chicks „Not Ready to Make Nice“
I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go ‚round and ‚round and ‚round
I downloaded the Dixie Chicks album because of a different song, but this one came to be ma favourite. I learned the whole history behind it only later, but it spoke to me as a fight song from the beginning, as a song that encourages you to stand by your anger and not surpress it, to admit to feeling hurt and misunderstood and treated unfairly. I sometimes forget that it is important to allow these feelings their space.
3. Bijelo Dugme „Tako Ti Je, Moja Mala, Kad Ljubi Bosanac“
Jesi l‘, mala, ljubila do sada?
Jesi, jesi – al‘ Bosanca nisi!
Have you kissed already, little girl?
You have, you have – but not a Bosnian man!
This song is on a Bijelo Dugme album that I bought in Rijeka in Croatia. Bijelo Dugme are something like the Yugoslav Rolling Stones, and quite a few of their songs just put a huge smile on my face because they are playful and silly and fun. I also learned quite a bit Bosnian / Croatian / Serbian by listening to their music.
4. Edward Maya „Stereo Love“
When you gonna stop breaking my heart?
There are no lyrics of any great depth to this song – what is so catching about it is the instrumental part. It was played in countless beach bars and night clubs I went to on my trip, and while at home I probably never would have liked it, on the trip it encaptured that feeling of relaxation, summer heat and freedom of care.
What do you think? Do you have travel tunes that remind you of a certain trip? Does music ever transport you back into a situation in the past?