Drake's Radio, EP.14: Upstate Driving Songs
US Operations Manager, Brandon Mahler, on what it takes to curate the ultimate playlist for the open road.
'Controlling the Aux' for a road trip with multiple people can be a nerve-wracking experience. There are so many factors I consider when playing music in the car for and with people. Who am I with? What are their tastes? What’s the vibe? Where are we going? Will I play something that is too heavy, too deep, or too jarring? What volume level is appropriate for this? (Maybe not everyone wants to hear Celtic Frost’s “Into The Crypt of Rays” at 11)
I need something to give me energy and keep me focused on the road. I don’t want anything that’s too steady, trance-y, or sleepy while I’m behind the wheel. I need to consider everyone’s feelings while I’m driving, but I need to also like the music I’m listening to while I’m doing all the heavy lifting! I can’t use headphones that’s a safety hazard. The passengers have that luxury, I don’t!
As I’ve said my last contribution to Drake’s Radio, I’ve got an eclectic music taste. I can’t just put my favorites on shuffle, or it could go from Ron Trent -> Don Cherry -> Crown of Thornz. While I love all those artists, sometimes the vibe just isn’t a chaotic shuffle. It could be, but maybe this drive isn’t that kind of party.
Going back to the “vibe” portion, there are times where I’ve made an A+ musical selection based off where I’m driving. Maybe it’s just something that would be a perfect score to the drive. Or it’s a local favorite while driving through a city. I have a great memory of flying past everyone in the HOV lane (legally) on the 101 while listening to Too $hort’s “Blow the Whistle” as I was driving into the bay area. Have you ever listened to Cat Power’s “The Greatest” while driving through a canyon on your way to Salt Lake City? (I’ve made a 10-passenger van of grown men cry with this one.) Or driven across a vast desert in Sante Fe during sunset while blasting Milk Music’s (Mystic 100’s?) “Cruise Your Illusion” to the point where someone yells for you to stop because they just couldn’t take it anymore and had to get out and take a photo so everyone could just take it all in? There was also the time while we were leaving Oklahoma in the middle of a severe thunderstorm (that later turned into hail and a tornado) and we were playing Malignant Altars “Retribution of Jealous Gods” as the sky lit up purple and blue.
Sometimes I think this is one of the most important parts of picking what I want to listen to.
I try to think of songs I’m playing on a road trip as an extension of a karaoke playlist. I want fun. I want the things that most people know and love. Things that will make people feel good and nostalgic. I want people to sing along and have the kind of contagious energy to keep everyone alive, energetic and moving until we get to our destination, or at least to stop for snacks.
(1) Midnight Rider by WILLIE NELSON
(2) Why Can’t He Be You by PATSY CLINE
(3) Stand By Your Man by TAMMY WYNETTE
(4) When Your Lonely Heart Breaks by NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE
(5) How’s It Going to Be by THIRD EYE BLIND
(6) Wicked Game by CHRIS ISAAK
(7) Don’t Speak by NO DOUBT
(8) Truly Madly Deeply by SAVAGE GARDEN
(9) 1979 by THE SMASHING PUMPKINS
(10) Slide by THE GOO GOO DOLLS
(11) You Oughta Know by ALANIS MORISSETTE
(12) Killing Me Softly With His Song by FUGEES
(13) Fantasy by MARIAH CAREY
(14) If I Ever Fall In Love by SHAI
(15) I Need a Girl, Pt. 2 (feat. Ginuwine, Loon, Mario Winans) by P. DIDDY
(16) Always Be My Baby by MARIAH CAREY
(17) What’s Luv? (feat. Ja-Rule & Ashanti) by FAT JOE
(18) Let Me Love You by MARIO
(19) End of the Road by BOYZ II MEN