11 July 2008

A musical interlude

Posted by Jessica Ball

With all the things I’ve been doing to get ready for my move to Buffalo, I haven’t had much time to write much on here. I’ve noticed that Julian has been posting about geology in music, and it got me thinking about how I associate geology and music.  

I play violin and various other obscure stringed instruments, which meant that I was steeped in Classical orchestral music (and later Renaissance and Medieval chamber music and English country dances). I listened to other things – mainly oldies and swing and jazz – but it wasn’t until I started going on geology trips that I really paid attention to what other people were listening to. My undergrad department runs a one- to three-week-long field course each spring, and since we spent a long time driving, everyone would bring recordings of their favorite music to listen to. The recordings evolved from tapes (for one very old van) to CDs to predominantly MP3 players, but the one thing that was consistent was that I began to associate various songs or pieces with different locations. Even now, hearing a particular song conjures up images of a particular time and place and even a specific event, and I thought it might be fun to go through them. (And it’s a list, and lists are easy. It’s Friday and my brains are shot. Enjoy anyway!) 

Cruising into/around campus, plus countless other places on the Colorado Plateau: “Hot Lava” by Perry Farrell. (We blasted this when we got back to campus very early one morning, and freaked out just about every townie and jogger we saw. The best part is that the song has a line that says “The hydrostatic pressure of seawater tends to inhibit the vesicle size of the basalt.”) 

Winslow, Arizona: “Take it Easy” by the Eagles. (We drove through Winslow playing this song. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, that.) 

Outside of Capitol Reef, Utah: “Why Don’t We Get Drunk” by Jimmy Buffett. (Somehow, this seemed totally appropriate for rural Utah.) 

Big Bend (Nighttime): “Knights of Cydonia” by Muse (Cowboys. Aliens. Perfect for late-night trips to the hot springs. Also comes with an awesome music video, although we didn’t find that out until we got back.) 

Big Bend (Daytime): “Pop Goes My Heart” by Hugh Grant in the movie Music and Lyrics (This was banned by the end of the trip due to excessive cuteseyness.)

Terlingua, Texas: Multiple songs and commentary on the government shutting down an illegal radio operation by a local guitarist/DJ. (Fortunately, they didn’t find his pot.) 

Big Island of Hawaii: “The Final Countdown” by Europe, “Volcano” by Jimmy Buffett, “Hot Lava”. (Final Countdown has been banned indefinitely for any field trip.) 

Uninhabited portions of the Fish Lake Plateau: Theme from The Great Escape. (Whistled by several trip members at precisely the same point in a long hike, which resulted in a very long break so we could all stop laughing.) 

Inhabited portions of the Fish Lake Plateau: “Ticks” by Brad Paisley (I actually spit water on someone the first time I heard this.) 

Drive to Utah: Louis Prima & Keely Smith, multiple albums, way too many repeats. 

Graduation: “Invincible” by Muse 

Somewhere in Arizona near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon: “Drunken Lullabies” by Flogging Molly (Hmm. Beginning to see a trend here.) 

Kilauea Military Camp, Lava Lounge: “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins (Oh, the Lava Lounge. Oh, the dancing. Oh, how glad I am that no one filmed this. I think.) 

Drive from Volcano to Hilo: Timeline audiobook and an NPR segment titled “Tings I Neva Know ‘Bout Hummingbirds”. (Okay, so they’re not all music, but the hummingbird segment was priceless.)  

St. George, Utah: “Build Me Up Buttercup” by the Foundations. 

Undergrad student workroom AKA “Torture Chamber”: “I Saw the Sign” by Ace of Base. 

Drive to Knoxville, TN for the 2006 SEGSA meeting: “Jump in the Line” by Harry Belafonte. 

On the way to the Guadaloupe Mountains, Texas: “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi. (Again, totally appropriate, as our van, which had made it all the way across the country, stalled when we tried to turn into the campground.)  

I’m sure there are many more, but I can’t seem to remember them and it’s getting late. I’ll be coherent later. Feel free to add your own recollections in the comments!