Teenage Dreams and Divine Wonder: Carrie Brownstein's Top 5 Driving Songs

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Summer road trips are a time for both celebration and meditation. There's an urgent need to be free and explore, while also blocking out the rest of the world and getting lost in wistful daydreams. For Carrie Brownstein, former guitarist for Sleater-Kinney and host of NPR's Monitor Mix blog, nothing captures these moments better than the following five songs.

Teenage Dreams and Divine Wonder: Carrie Brownstein's Top 5 Driving Songs

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The Go-Betweens

  • Artist: The Go-Betweens
  • Song: Spring Rain
  • From: Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express

The song conjures those expansive teenage dreams but revisited later in life; it's like one of those 1950s tunes about open roads, love, and automobiles. Yet The Go-Betweens add the outsider perspective; the tale takes place in spring, not in summer, like the American version surely would. Disappointment lurks just under the surface, which makes the moments of contentment and wonder all the more divine.

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Song
Spring Rain
Album
Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express
Artist
The Go-Betweens
Label
WEA Japan
Released
1986

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Wipers

  • Artist: Wipers
  • Song: Taking Too Long
  • From: Youth of America

Greg Sage pioneered the sense of urgency that coursed through Northwest punk. This song has a catchy riff, surf-inspired and blithe, but the vocals interrupt the calm, propelling the song into an agitated state that feels on the verge of breaking until the guitar part resets the mood.

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Song
Taking Too Long
Album
Youth of America
Artist
Wipers
Label
Back Bone
Released
1981

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Music Go Music

  • Artist: Music Go Music
  • Song: Light of Love
  • From: Light of Love

I recently received this 12" single in the mail. Listening to the song for the first time was the equivalent of turning all the lights on in my house. The dark Portland day brightened, my furniture sparkled, and I wanted to keep playing it over and over to keep the shadows at bay.

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Song
Light of Love
Album
Light of Love
Artist
Music Go Music
Label
Secretly Canadian
Released
2008

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Richard & Linda Thompson

  • Artist: Richard & Linda Thompson
  • Song: Hokey Pokey
  • From: Hokey Pokey

Sex, ice cream, drugs. What is this song about? The lyrics touch on mystery, folly, and desire, while the guitar part repeats after each verse, growing more alluring and seductive each time.

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Song
Hokey Pokey
Album
Hokey Pokey
Artist
Richard & Linda Thompson
Label
Hannibal
Released
1975

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Cal Tjader

  • Artist: Cal Tjader
  • Song: Pantano
  • From: Soul Sauce

Part of any drive is to lose sight of the interior mechanism, to only notice the external, to feel what it means to pass something by. For this hypnosis, you need an instrumental; a soundtrack to support the commentary in your head, but also to inspire it.

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Song
Pantano
Album
Soul Sauce
Artist
Cal Tjader
Label
Saar
Released
1964

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