Category Archives: Music to Drive to

This is What Austin Sounds Like to Me, Part II or “Un gaou à Austin”

It is now spring, getting on towards the end of it anyway, and this is one of my favorite times of the year in Austin.  I can drive with the windows down, music semi-blasting (I’m not young anymore, I’ve got to take care of these aural devices.) The sun is starting to set later and later, which brings le coucher de soleil closer to the moments when I meet friends for drinks or dinner, or, on rare occasions, begin a night of bacchanalian revelry with those friends that are better labeled bad influences.

Magic System is from Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and their music is called Zouglou.

There was a stint when I lived in NW Austin, around the Four Points area.  Sometimes too far from my preferred haunts in and near downtown, Magic System made that journey much more tolerable.

“La musique est pour nous un facteur de rapprochement du peuple…”
[Music is, for us, a way to bring people together…]

 Take the drive on 2222 from 620 into town.  Do it as the sun sets, or just as the lights of night start to outshine said gaseous giant as it heads to bed.  Lower your windows, and crank up a little “On va samizé.”

Let the opening notes blow past your ears and the wind blow through your smartly coiffed hair as you descend Tumbleweed hill, foot covering the brake pedal so as not to achieve enough velocity to attempt low-earth orbit or earn some sort of traffic citation.  Cross under 360, pass County Line BBQ and the music, already getting you in the mood to dance, rhythms you in and out of every turn and switch-back on the descent to Mopac.  Go ahead, play it twice, get yourself to Loop 1 to head south for downtown.

Now, having followed Mopac south, take the exit to go au centre-ville, and after you curve to the left, do a little down-and-up shift in the road, then back to the right (just like you’re dancing, man), level out onto 5th and keep Magic System as your copilot.  Switch to their song “Premier Gaou.” Nothing beats it as you patrol the streets, hunting for errant parking spots that are, if you’re lucky, only a few blocks from your destination.  The music keeps your hips primed for dipping in any concert venue, and calms the savageness of parking rage as you hunt.  Long after you’ve paralleled your way between an obnoxiously stationed Hummer and the Car2Go Smart that it dwarfs, despite their separation, you’ll be singing to yourself as you walk downtown

“On dit premier gaou n’est pas gaou, oh…/ C’est deuxième gaou qui est niata, oh…”
[Fool me once, shame on you / Fool me twice, shame on me…]

 

Now that you know the route, give your Sunday drive a Zouglou kick!


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This is What Austin Sounds Like to Me, Part I

I recently wrote that, for me, Austin has a very unique soundtrack, in much the same way that Saïan Supa Crew will always be my accompaniment on the #31 bus in Paris, or Akhénaton the background to my treks in the métro from Line 13 in St Lazare to Auber for RER A.

Whenever I’ve much on my mind (what I often refer to as S. O. double M.), I’m wont to either take my dog, Finn, on a longer-than-usual walk, or sometimes a little car ride.

With gas prices what  they are, I’m far less likely to do the latter these days, but it still happens on occasion.

On these vehicled excursions, I really get into the thinking groove, the reflecting mood, on the drive going north on 360 from Mopac to 183.  It is exactly long enough, with a good dose of the Austin skyline mixed with the quiet solitude of the hills, to create the sense it’s only you, your dog, your car and possibility. Like a sumo wrestler eating for his next big match, the vibe is enhanced when making the drive at night.  And  though Ted Mosby is mostly right, this is probably the only thing that gets better after 2AM.

All you need do is cross the Pennybacker Bridge, the suns of other systems winking at you, the lap of lake waving you on, and you can stretch into the world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:360_Bridge_at_night,_2008.jp

In just a few miles, windows down, dog chilling on the back seat, the running away into thought, singing at the top of your lungs, all is captured by one song: “Désolé.”  And sometimes, as if watching from outside the car, scarcely a few feet above, I imagine I’m making my own video for it.  This is just a minor escape, five fleeting minutes, with the crisp night air, Finn up way past his bed time, volume up even higher.  The world seems a little more conquerable as I leave the embrace of the hills to get back on 183 to head home.   Though this might be my preferred route, song and place dancing inextricably in my mind, to be honest, any night drive will do.  Try it once and see for yourself.  But try the song first.

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