Monday, July 31, 2017

Music for the Massholes (Commonwealth Ave. Construction “Carmageddon 2017” Playlists)

Yesterday’s Globe article written by Sara Salinas opened with the line, “The message from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is clear: Stay home Monday if you can.” A warning about the impact the construction on Commonwealth Ave. is having on the 'regular' traffic.

As if we can.

While some have said at today’s end that the traffic wasn’t as bad as it could have been, it still wasn’t good.

I sat in that traffic for quite some time this morning, and I was only just going through Boston headed north. I’m one of the lucky ones; I actually enjoy driving, even in traffic – especially now with my brand new car stereo I received as an early 50th birthday gift (Thank you, Dad!).

(No, that doesn’t mean I don’t get annoyed with traffic; it just takes me a little longer to get annoyed.)

During the part of my commute I was actually enjoying, sitting there listening to my music playing loud and drinking my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, I began to feel bad for the other drivers who clearly weren’t having as good a time as I was.

I came up with a few ideas for music playlists to help ease the extra-heavy commute. Yes, a few – didn’t I mention I was sitting there for quite some time?

The first playlist is the most obvious; the one that mocks the situation, using every song with car, driving, waiting, stuck, etc. references. There is no particular order because you will have plenty of time to listen to each one. Twice.

1.      Highway to Hell – ACDC
2.      Can’t Get There From Here – R.E.M.
3.      Driving My Life Away – Eddie Rabbitt
4.      Traffic Jam – James Taylor
5.      I Can’t Drive 55 – Sammy Hagar
6.      Red Light – Donna Summer
7.      Pull Up to the Bumper – Grace Jones
8.      Turn the Page – Bob Seger
9.      Rush Hour – Jane Wiedlin
10.  No Time Left For You – The Guess Who
11.  Wait – White Lion
12.  Faithfully - Journey
13.  Stuck in the Middle With You – Stealers Wheel
14.  Drive – The Cars
15.  I Drove All Night – Cyndi Lauper
16.  Four’s a Traffic Jam – Peaches and Herb
17.  Gridlock – Warren Zevon
18.  Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane
19.  I’m Late – The White Rabbit (Disney’s Alice in Wonderland)
20.  Vehicle – The Ides of March
21.  Traffic Jam – “Weird Al” Yankovic
22.  No Parking on the Dance Floor – Midnight Star
23.  On the Road Again – Willie Nelson
24.  Home Sweet Home – Motely Crue
25.  Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
26.  Drive My Car – The Beatles

Another playlist idea is the Earworm Playlist. One of these songs is bound to get stuck in your head and annoy you so much that you’ll forget about the traffic (it's sort of like stepping hard on someone's foot to make them forget their headache):

1.      Tom’s Diner – Suzanne Vega
2.      Mahna Mahna – The Muppets
3.      The Lion Sleeps Tonight – The Tokens
4.      Hooked on a Feeling (OOGA CHUCKA) – Blue Swede
5.      Who Let the Dogs Out – Baha Men
6.      Whoomp (There It Is) – Tag Team
7.      Hakuna Matata – Timon and Pumbaa (Disney’s The Lion King)
8.      Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
9.      Mambo #5 – Lou Bega
10.  Happy – Pharrel
11.  Gangnam Style - Psy
12.  Achy Breaky Heart – Billy Ray Cyrus
13.  Somebody that I used to Know – Gotye
14.  I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers
15.  Yellow Submarine – The Beatles
16.  Copacabana – Barry Manilow
17.  Bad Boys – Inner Circle
18.  Fish Heads – Barnes and Barnes
19.  Saturday Night – Bay City Rollers
20.  Tarzan Boy – Baltimora
21.  Da Da Da –Trio
22.  Macarena – Los Del Rio
23.  Mickey – Toni Basel
24.  867-5309 (Jenny) – Tommy Tutone
25.  What Does The Fox Say – Ylvis

This next playlist encourages you to make friends with the people in the cars around you. I call it The Singalong Playlist. Before it gets too hot and people turn the AC on, they will be driving with their windows down. What better way to say “Hello!” and cheer up someone’s day than in inviting them to sing along with you? Roll down your windows and make sure your music is good and loud so you can share it easily. An added benefit is that some of them double as earworm!

1.      Can’t Smile Without You – Barry Manilow
2.      My Girl – The Temptations
3.      Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond (Hell, we’re in Boston!)
4.      867-5309 (Jenny) Tommy Tutone
5.      Don’t Stop Believing - Journey
6.      Macarena – Los Del Rio
7.      Mickey – Toni Basil
8.      Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
9.      Yellow Submarine – The Beatles
10.  Saturday Night – Bay City Rollers
11.  Mony Mony – Tommy James and the Shondells (or Billy Idol’s version)
12.  Copacabana – Barry Manilow
13.  Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
14.  Hakuna Matata – Timon and Pumbaa (Disney’s The Lion King)
15.  Mahna Mahna – The Muppets
16.  Hooked on a Feeling – Blue Swede
17.  We Will Rock You/ We are the Champions – Queen
18.  Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield
19.  Mr. Roboto – Styx (Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto!)
20.  Tubthumping – Chumbawumba
21.  The Gambler – Kenny Rogers
22.  Livin’ On a Prayer – Bon Jovi
23.  Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N Roses
24.  Africa – Toto
25.  American Pie – Don McLean

I’m sure you can think of more; the ‘80s was filled with earworm, and how many songs do you know have the word ‘Cruisin’ in the title? If you didn’t get home too late tonight you have time to upload a nice playlist to your MP3 player before you get out there again tomorrow.

A few extra suggestions: Wear your seatbelts. Drive safely. Use your blinkers – and use them properly: turn them on and then look first before changing lanes (the two actions are not supposed to happen simultaneously). Go before you go; nothing makes traffic more uncomfortable than a full bladder (and don’t load up on the coffee or water).

Of course, these are all just suggestions. Make traffic fun, or not – either way you’ll still be sitting in it. Like Guns N Roses sang, “All we need is just a little patience.”

And just think how much easier the normal rush hour commute will be in 3 weeks.