I am on a train, reading WG Sebald. His writing never ceases to amaze me:
‘There is something illusionistic and illusory about the relationship of time and space as we experience it in travelling, which is why whenever we come home from elsewhere we never feel quite sure if we really have been abroad.’
Anyway, I recently heard (at a presentation given by @LadyLele) about theta waves. (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theta_rhythm) These aren’t well understood but they are apparently brainwaves you get when you’re not sleeping but zoning out. They’re associated with learning and memory. Daydreaming. They might even help you get good ideas.
I think I get these when I’m in the shower or on a long walk or bike ride, but also on a long train journey. I zone in and out, not really conscious of what I am thinking about, but thinking all the time.
This state is often enhanced by what I am listening to on my iPod at the time, so here are my top 5 theta-wave-enhancing travelling albums.
1. The Orb: U.F. Orb
I first took this album on a long journey when I visited friends in Wales around the time of my 16th birthday. I was delighted to discover that they didn’t do much there except listen to dub, smoke weed and go to parties, and I associate this album with being at parties in barns and squats, sleeping in cars, and being present at the world record attempt for rolling the longest joint of all time.
2. The Happy Mondays: Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches
School trip to the Vendee in 1990 = nearly a whole day in a coach full of 14 year olds singing The Bangles’ ‘Eternal Flame’ and being bus-sick. I had a copy of this on one side of a C90 and The Stone Roses on the other, ran my batteries down rewinding the cassette over and over again. This side of the tape wore out I loved it so much. It was excellent for plotting my revenge on mediocre pop music. (Which was never carried out.)
3. Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavillion
I got this album in the winter of 2009-10 and played it a lot, when I was doing the daily commute from Glasgow to Edinburgh. It was cold and dark all the time and snowy a lot of it, and I was always tired and a bit depressed. This album gave me optimism, made me think of summer. Now it reminds me of winter.
4. Bonnie Prince Billie: The Letting Go
I had a client in Inverness and the regular train journey was beautiful and romantic. And long. Made me wistful. And bored. And a bit train sick.
5. Radiohead: OK Computer
This album was released the summer before I re-started university. Like everyone else, I went crazy for this album and played it non-stop. If you listen to it end to end, it’s like reading a long article about the state of the world except it’s up to you to decide what the key points are.
So, that’s my list. What are your favourite meditative travelling tunes? Or do you prefer to move in silence?