If you are as lucky enough as me to have grown up in Portland Oregon, the request to stay indoors is, well, unnatural. Spring in the Pacific Northwest typically brings weekend bus trips up to the mountain, car drive thrus with friends or even just walking around my neighborhood. Alright so I can still do that last one, but seeing the same things everyday is something I’m still getting a little used to. The best way I have learned to distract myself is by listening to music and finding new releases as well as old favorites to share with friends. These are the songs I have enjoyed listening to as I walk or run up the street to the river that goes past by my house or as I read in the backyard. Try it out for your own nature walk to clear your head.
“Sleepwalker” – Julie Byrne
This folky, acoustic guitar picking song emulates the way watching a sunrise from a porch feels: hopeful, but not domineering. Julie Byrne’s voice and guitar meld beautifully in this record as if it were handmade carefully. “Sleepwalker” by Julie Byrne is best for early morning coffee listens or out on a walk with the dogs.
“Roots”- Sanjana Asha
Spring is my least favorite season because it lacks specificity of the warmth and family of winter or spontaneity of summer. I have tended to find the feeling of Spring to be difficult to communicate well through music, but “Roots” by Sanjana Asha gives me little chills when I listen to it with headphones. The song almost feels like it’s enveloping you in soft leaves or blooming flowers and seamlessly emulates Springtime. This one is best listened to for the day’s meditation.
“Big Fat Mouth” – Arlie
Spotify curates a playlist called ‘Surf Rock Sunshine’ and is updated every week with new records from the Surf Rock genre. For the past two years I have yet to witness the absence of “Big Fat Mouth” on ‘Surf Rock Sunshine’. This song perfectly embodies the genre of surf rock if you are curious about getting into the genre. On warm weekends in Portland, often times I would drive to the beach to surf for the day and “Big Fat Mouth” was always in the cue as we’d drive the scenic and winding road to the Oregon Coast.
“Jackie and Wilson” – Hozier
A love song that is guaranteed to lift spirits and tap feet, “Jackie and Wilson” is a dancing-while-baking anthem for the family, or your chosen quarantine partner. Hozier is known as a master guitar player but on this track he leans into his more rock and blues influences rather than his go to finger picking style. This song has already gotten me through five days of being snowed in with family a few years ago so this one is a definite listen.
“40 Day Dream” – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Although becoming popular with “Home,” this song by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros is my personal favorite. If you are feeling the itch to get outdoors and go on a cross state adventure, “40 Day Dream” feels as if its soundtracking the American family’s National Parks summer road trip. The grandness of the drums and keys make an unforgettable track. The best way to listen to “40 Day Dream” is laying in a hammock tied between two fir trees and sipping some kind of iced drink. As the weather begins to turn nice, I highly recommend Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros as a new summer discovery.
For myself, the Pacific Northwest harbors images of rocky Coasts and mountain trails, kayaking on the river and driving through cloudy cities on countless day trips with windows left open. And although I miss the never ending activities of the PNW, the more isolation now means that I can leave the house and drive to the beach sooner. These songs have soundtracked many an outdoor adventure in Oregon and now I hope that they provide some comfort or distraction from the indoors to all of you.