I am surrounded by a vast spread of blue mountains. Afternoon sunbeams bounce off the calm water of the Morris Reservoir, thousands of feet below my lookout. I am sandwiched between my parents as we gaze at the Glendora Ridge view — It’s the first time we’ve seen each other since summer.
Escaping to the San Gabriel Mountains always induces a wave of calmness and reflection in me. So I figured what better place to take my parents, who are currently navigating their first year as empty-nesters.
As a fervent Spotify user, I, of course, had to make a playlist to accompany us during the hour we spent driving around the scenic mountain roads. I tried to combine my parents’ tastes with my own and keep it sentimental. Both sad and sweet, old and new.
Though I chose the following 13 songs with my experience in mind, I think everyone can relate to the complex feelings that arise when adjusting to life without loved ones in close physical proximity. My advice: Journey to a quiet space — whether that’s the mountains or a courtyard — and feel your feelings to their fullest extent. There, you can reconnect with what really matters in this world: the mind and the mountains, together as one.
To listen along to the playlist, click here.
“Thirteen” — Big Star
In the car, my dad told me he loves this song because the lyrics have an innocence that speaks to him. “[It] made me feel like a little kid again,” he said. For that reason, he has played it during every half-marathon he’s ever run.
“Father and Daughter” — Paul Simon
A classic father-daughter song that’s sure to get the tears going. “She’s trying to make me cry,” my dad remarked to my mom upon hearing the song’s dreamy intro.
“Change” — Big Thief
I never get tired of hearing Adrianne Lenker’s tender voice. “Change” is Lenker and Big Thief at their best but also their simplest— anchored by a steady drum beat and a rare instance of all band members contributing vocals during the chorus.
“Galileo” — Indigo Girls
On weekends when I was younger, my mom would sing in the kitchen to Indigo Girls. I didn’t know until recently that the song wasn’t merely telling the story of a revolutionary scientist. When they ask, “how long ‘til my soul gets it right?” Indigo Girls are referencing their hope for a reincarnated version of themselves to someday feel fulfilled in their life. The kind of existential question one would ponder while gazing out across mountains.
“Saltwater for Strings” — Geowulf, Pêtr Aleksänder
My dad likes to envision that my brother’s new college life in Santa Barbara is much like this ode to oceanside paradise. I hope that’s the case, because the orchestral arrangement and vocal layering really does make this song feel like floating in an ocean, at peace.
“Talk” — Coldplay
For all the Coldplay haters out there, give this one a chance before judging the band off their most recent albums. This song, from their 2005 album, serves as a reminder to lean on people from home who know you best whenever you’re feeling lost. It also serves a sick electric guitar riff.
“Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” — Arcade Fire
My dad told me that if he went to college in Claremont, he’d go up North to the mountains every weekend. Arcade Fire echoes this feeling of wanting to “get away from the sprawl” that 5C students know all too well.
“Everyday Is A Winding Road” — Sheryl Crow
The higher we ascended up into the mountains, the windier the roads got. But this song is not just about literal roads. Crow ponders the metaphorical winding roads of life, wondering how to stop being a “stranger in [her] own life,” while also noting that every day she gets “a little bit closer to feeling fine.”
“Come On Home” — Lijadu Sisters
I don’t know what the lyrics mean, and apparently even Yoruba speakers can’t quite make them out either. What I do know is that the late Nigerian twins’ blend of reggae and funk make for what I consider to be one of the best road trip songs.
“Where The Streets Have No Name” — U2
This song always transports my dad’s mind to the hills, which for him has always been a place to feel free. It also turned out to be very fitting at the time this song came on, because we were literally on an unnamed road. “I searched long and hard to find roads like these,” my dad said.
“Harvest Moon” — Lord Huron
Since Neil Young pulled his music off Spotify, I’ve searched for covers that can come anywhere close to replicating his signature style. Huron comes pretty close, and even adds his own spin to what happens to be one of my dad’s favorite songs of all time. This is the type of song that bridges generational divides by mixing old with new.
“Landslide” — Fleetwood Mac
Perhaps not the best song to play for a nervous mom atop a mountain. “I hope there’s not a landslide,” she said. It is, however, a must-play when handling the seasons of one’s life. Stevie Nicks reminds us not to fear change because it’s a bittersweet but beautiful part of life.
“Godspeed” — Frank Ocean
A song for saying goodbye to my parents and to the mountains, as gospel singer Kim Burrell’s soulful voice leads the track through its prolonged finale.
Hannah Weaver SC ’24 would like to thank her parents for bringing her into this world and never threatening to take her out of it.