10 Music Life Lessons I Learned on My Summer Road Trip

How I spent my summer vacation: Listening to music and killing bugs.
How I spent my summer vacation: Listening to music and killing bugs.
Glenn BurnSilver

This summer, I took a trip of epic proportions, leaving the hot, sweltering desert for the cool, mosquito-filled vastness of Alaska and points north. I saw amazing sights -- bears, whales, glaciers, rain forests, and rivers two miles wide -- before school forced my return to this urban existence.

All told, I drove 12,335.6 miles door to door. That's a lot of time behind the wheel -- especially considering many roads were unpaved and exceedingly slow. So there was a lot of time to contemplate life, curse the bugs covering my windshield, and, of course, listen to music. I listen to a lot of music anyway, but when we you spend 10 or 12 or more hours over repeated days behind the wheel, the discoveries one makes can be, well, a little more far out or profound.

At least, they seemed that way at the time.

1. The Beatles really are good.

I know, it's silly to say that. Yet after listening to dozens of songs and absorbing the sweet harmonies, complex arrangements, tongue-in-check phrasing, wild psychedelics, and gritty guitars -- and always within a pure-pop context -- I came away with a deeper appreciation and understanding of just what a great, inventive band this was, and why it had such a musical impact on so many diverse acts.

2. Sandinista works in alphabetical order.

This discovery came by accident along the Cassiar Highway, which runs between the Alaska Highway in the Yukon, and Yellowhead Highway in British Columbia. By selecting the "punk" genre option on my phone, I assumed it would play a random mix of punk songs. Instead, all I got was The Clash's epic triple-album masterpiece


in alphabetical order -- and it worked! The sprawling set is up and down, loud and soft anyway, and it just happened that the breaks segued smoothly together without diminishing the impact and importance of the original tracking order.

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