I don't travel very often for business anymore but when I do it's usually by air. And, anal as I am, I get myself to the airport way too early to ensure I can essentially disrobe and shred every last bit of dignity I can before the friendly folks at the TSA in time to browse the magazines and buy some coffee before boarding what is bound to be a delayed flight.
As nearly everyone is chatting inanely on a cell phone in the terminal nowadays a well-stocked, fully-charged iPod is as essential to my trip as a clean change of underwear. I usually load up hours more songs than I need, frequently following some genre-based theme, hit "shuffle" and while away my wait time - and my flight - in a world occupied just by me and my music.
I was on a flight this weekend and had filled 16GB with hard rock and heavy metal. As I sit here this morning, getting ready to fly home, I find my iPod nicely paused where I left it and am pleased to scan backwards and find that the following got me through the first leg of this trip:
"I Won't Mind" - Uriah Heep - Wonderworld
"Suicide" - Motörhead -Inferno
"Blackened" - Metallica - And Justice for All...
"The Hanging Tree" - Uriah Heep - Firefly
"Walk All Over You" - AC/DC - Highway to Hell
"Cold Hearted Woman" - Rainbow - Stranger in Us All
"Liberskull" - Danzig - 777: I Luciferi
"Size Queen" - Kyuss - ...And the Circus Leaves Town
"Bastards of a Lying Breed" - Amon Amarth - The Crusher (Disc 2)
"Face Your Fear" - Tony Iommi & Glenn Hughes - Fused
"Behind the Wall" - Black Sabbath - Past Lives
"That's the Way" - Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin III
"Disaster Blaster" - White Zombie - Make Them Die Slowly
"Joy of Labour" - Motörhead - Snake Bite Love
"Stone Dead Forever" - Motörhead - Bomber
"Red Lights" - Uriah Heep - Head First
"No Remorse" - Metallica - Kill 'Em All
"Whole Lotta Love" - Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II
"Whole Lotta Love" - Led Zeppelin - The Song Remains the Same
"Mr. Crowley" - Ozzy Osbourne - Blizzard of Ozz
"The Furor" - AC/DC - Ballbreaker
"Cyclops Revolution" - Monster Magnet - Superjudge
"Go Zone" - AC/DC - Blow Up Your Video
"1000 Devils Reign" - Danzig - Circle of Snakes
"Gunman" - Them Crooked Vultures - Them Crooked Vultures
What I love about this list is that in no way ever would I have programmed such music by choice. And, even at home, I wouldn't likely sit through some of these tracks (e.g., anything from Blow Up Your Video or any of the Heep, which is, admittedly, of the lesser variety) without hitting fast-forward to the next selection. But there is something about the absolute resignation of air travel that allows me somehow to hit play, close my eyes and enjoy what turned out to be a marvelous sampling of what, for the most part, would not have been the go-to tracks from many of these artists' catalogues. Even a guaranteed pleaser, like "Whole Lotta Love" was oddly, beautifully randomly set up against a live version of the same track. A comparative exercise I would normally find mundane, I was delighted to listen to the Song Remains the Same variation and, frankly, now have the film mentally queued up as the first thing I want to watch when I return home. I realize how I take a solid album like Snake Bite Love for granted and pass it up again and again for something from Motörhead's first six. I decide I need to reconsider a 10,000th spin of Master of Puppets and maybe give And Justice for All... a little more time on the stereo.
Air travel is, for me, as unpleasant as I imagine it is for most folks. The waiting, the discomfort, the inconveniences, all to be lodged next to someone decidedly not hot. To be honest, though, I am kind of excited to get back on this plane. I want to fasten the seatbelt, plug in the earphones, hit "play" and see what's waiting for me next.