Emerald Recommends: Songs to listen to while flying
Many University of Oregon students will be taking flights home to spend time with their families on the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Though it will be nice for students to take a breather from schoolwork and visit with family, the travel it takes for students to reach their destinations aren’t always easy. Flights can often be filled with awkward small talk and uncomfortably long silences. In the holiday spirit, the Emerald’s Art and Culture writers put together some recommendations for songs to listen to while flying. Hopefully, these songs will help ease the stresses that school and travel can cause.
‘El Carretero’ — Buena Vista Social Club
“El Carretero” is full of motion. But it has a slow and persistent tempo that mirrors the monotonous movements of modern day plane travel. The song gives color to the plane travel routine.
The prominent upright bass drives the song — giving it a haunting rhythm that compliments the Spanish guitar, various percussion instruments and vocals. The Spanish lyrics, sung beautifully by Eliades Ochoa and the band’s ensemble, are themselves dynamically full of motion as they depict a farmer arduous work pulling a wagon. “El Carretero,” meaning “wagon man,” is a “guajira” or a “country lament.”
Everyone who likes Latin music must familiarize themselves with the Buena Vista Social Club. The band composed of veteran Cuban musicians formed in 1996 to bring back the music of pre-Cuban revolution dance clubs.
‘The Recipe’ — Kendrick Lamar featuring Dr. Dre
The lead single from Kendrick Lamar’s first full-length record, “good kid, m.A.A.d city,” serves as a poetic tribute to Lamar’s hometown of Los Angeles. “The Recipe” describes Lamar’s favorite qualities — or “ingredients” — that make Los Angeles one of the most sought-after destinations in the world. The song lyrics list women, weed and good weather as the main reasons his hometown special. Most University of Oregon students probably have a slightly different list of “ingredients” that make up their hometown unique. But almost everybody can still relate to Lamar’s admiration for his hometown, especially around the holiday season. Plus, what better song to listen to while flying than one that features noises from an airplane takeoff in its opening moments?
Ambient 1: Music For Airports — Brian Eno
Congested security checkpoints, cramped seats and unexpected flight delays can all make flying a very stressful experience. Thankfully, Brian Eno is there to make things a little bit easier. His 1978 album “Ambient 1: Music For Airports” was designed with the airport experience in mind. The calm piano loops and comforting ethereal voices found throughout the album are a welcome escape from the irritating noises of crowded flights and airport terminals. Whether waiting for your plane or already in the air, Listening to this album will surely ease some tension. “Music For Airports” is also easy to fall asleep to, so just make sure to board the flight before falling asleep.
‘Window Seat’ and ’Umm Hmm’ — Erykah Badu
These two tracks from Erykah Badu’s latest album, “New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)”, work together to induce a lofty, groovy relaxation fitting for hour-long gazes through airplane windows. The production on these tracks, largely laid out through sampling and live instrumentation, feature analog instruments to create a mesmerizing atmosphere. Badu told Billboard that the sound “feels like a hug.”
The songs possess a full-of-life, flowing quality, as does the album as a whole. Badu’s floating vocals yearn for the liberations of silent airplane rides in “Window Seat.” The bouncier “Umm Hmm” contains samples that urge listeners to, as Badu obliges gracefully, “Search the skies / a new horizon.”
‘Last Tango In Paris Pt I’ and ‘Why Did She Choose You’ — Gato Barbieri
The 1972 French classic film “Last Tango In Paris” tells a tale of travel among love and lust. Director Bernardo Bertolucci recruited the great Gato Barbieri to compose the sounds for the movie, and, in response, Barbieri offered what would become a greatly successful jazz album in its own respect.
Barbieri’s virtuosic saxophone solos are made all the more lively and powerful by the rich latin-jazz accompaniment. There’s a certain sense of movement to the compositions. The songs are perfect for when the wheels of the plane finally leave the runway; perhaps on the way to be reunited with loved ones.
‘Flying High’ — Honors English featuring TL Cross and Lupe Fiasco
Outside of the title’s obvious allusions to taking to the skies, “Flying High,” the single off of Honors English’ 2012 mixtape, “State of the Art,” offers a great display of lyrical dexterity and capability. Honors English, who prides himself on his intellectually challenging raps, is only improved by the presence one of hip-hop’s greatest thinkers: Lupe Fiasco.
The accompanying horns and kicks produced by Needlz fit the fluffy-clouded imagery synonymous with airplane rides, and the rappers’ mood on the track reflects that feeling of moving forward. “The mood of the instruments seems to elevate me to a higher place every time they reach my ears,” Honors English said about the track.
Listen to the Emerald’s playlist for songs to listen to while flying:
Do you appreciate independent student journalism? Emerald Media Group is a non-profit organization. Please consider a donation to support our mission.