I miss my car. When I was home, I could drive it anywhere. If I needed some time and a place to think, I could just get in the driver’s seat and go. Now it’s back at home, being driven around Irvine without me.
I may not be able to drive around anymore, but I still appreciate great late-night driving music. So, if you’re in the mood to drive around and think, or imagine that you are, here’s a soundtrack to a late-night ride.
Let’s get right into it. It’s daytime, and you’re feeling a little antsy. You walk around Westwood, over the bridge and through the woods, trying to calm yourself. But something about the daytime doesn’t let you quiet your mind.
“Searchlight” is a song by Only Son off of the album titled “Searchlight,” released on Jan. 18. The front man sings, amid a song driven by a lumbering bass line, “Something here don’t seem right. … Sun feels like a searchlight.”
It’s true ““ walking around in bright daylight and trying to think often feels like an exercise in futility. When all you want to do is be alone with your thoughts, a shining sun really is like a searchlight, finding you wherever you try to hide from the chaos of the world.
So you wait. You wait for night to come, you get in the car, and you go. You drive down the same streets you walked down earlier, and then you get on the freeway. You drive for the sake of driving, up into the hills where it’s just you, your car and the quiet sanctum of your mind.
“1:22 a.m.,” a song by Leif off the album titled “Songs for Lonely Boys and Girls With Fleeting Crushes,” which was released on Dec. 15, is perfect driving music. The entire album is perfect driving music, but this song’s title serves as the perfect time stamp for your late-night reflection.
The song is a quiet and airy four minutes of pure relaxation. The instrumentation is a nimbly plucked acoustic guitar accompanied by pulsing percussion. But even in its simplicity, the music is beautiful and encourages some serious stargazing, but please try to do this in a way that is safe for you and the drivers around you.
The lyrics are simple and repetitive. They sound like they were written in the stream of consciousness of a drive such as the one you find yourself on. The front man whisper-sings phrases such as, “It’s not me,” “You used to promise,” and “We need to let go.”
From my own experience, those types of thoughts are exactly the kinds of thoughts flitting around in the car during those late-night drives. Listening to Leif’s music makes those thoughts a little less foreboding and a bit more peaceful.
Finally, you make your way back home, driving back into Westwood. The city has finally quieted down a bit. But you’re missing one thing: the perfect entry song.
“Frozen Town” by Twilight Hotel is just such a song. It’s off of the album “When The Wolves Go Blind,” released on Jan. 18, and the song itself sounds like dawn. Bear with me ““ I’ll explain.
Simple electric guitars and shakers create a pillow of sound for the subtle musings of the lyrics to rest lightly on top of. The song is about a sleepy town that clearly plays a large role in the writer’s life. They sing of this “frozen town.” At one point, they sing of slowly waking up: “The coming of a new day, the breaking of the dawn in a frozen town.”
It’s not a triumphant return. Instead, you slip back into town largely unnoticed, relaxed and finally in control of your thoughts and emotions. Driving never fails to quiet my mind, but just as important to reining in my thoughts and concerns is music. Every scene needs a good soundtrack.
What’s on the soundtrack to your late-night drives? Where do you stargaze? Send your favorite songs, stargazing spots and suggestions for future columns to Bain at [email protected]