Begin at the beginning they say but for this post I’m beginning at the end. We were home, the first load of washing in the machine, our dog still running about the place with excitement and a dash of relief at our return, and I had a cup of tea to hand when I discovered this post from Christin. It’s an ode to Jason Mraz’s 93 Million Miles.
We’d had a near miss on the last leg of our journey. I suppose it wouldn’t be a road trip without encountering at least one idiot. We were on the Napier/Taupo Road. The driver of a brilliant orange Holden, you know who you are, mate!, thought it would be clever to play skittles with approaching cars. No collisions, thank-goodness, due to the evasive actions of three attentive drivers with quick reactions. It was the only time there was the sound of cursing during our trip. I’ll own up – it was me. The expression my father reserved for idiots on the road burst right out of my mouth: “You silly cow!” Maybe not exactly cursing but the worst of insults. I sounded just like Dad. So, safely at home, 93 Million Miles was the right song for the right moment. I’ve listened to it several times since.
Here’s the rest of the musical round-up. Remember there’s no accounting for taste, so make of it what you will! To last the distance the music had to suit the mood of the day as well as cope with the vagaries of our car’s sound system. Some of our favs got kicked off because they were too moody, (how’s that for logic?) or two mellow, too soft, or too graunchy, or too something!
In no particular order our playlist was:
- The Best of Peter, Paul and Mary – especially This Land is Your Land, with us singing along as we drove past the volcanoes on the Central Plateau on Day Two.
- Any list of mine includes a blues album. This trip it was The Best of Elkie Brooks. Just right for driving through drizzle on the way from Taumarunui to the Waitomo Caves. My favourite: Pearl’s A Singer. Elkie sure can belt it out!
- Next up was Rodriguez : Searching for Sugarman – gotta a love the ultimate come back kid! We were lucky enough to see him play live in Wellington lat year. Now he’s part of the family canon.
- The Heartache EP from The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra made the list. The EP was a Christmas present from son number two a few years ago. At first the name of the group had me wondering if his affinity for Wellington had gone a shade too far. I was won over from the first track. I’ve seen them perform three times and I bought myself a bright red ukulele on the strength of this EP. The most favourite from an EP full of favourites? It’s A Heartache.
There’s something about this rendition that makes me break out in a grin every time. It’s got to do with Bret McKenzie, he of Flight of the Conchords and The Muppets fame. Yes, Bret is a sometime member of the ukulele orchestra. I always imagine it’s him, with his quirky grin, adding the supposed-to-be-gravelly voice over with a soupçon of pathos.
- Seals and Croft were a must listen. I’m showing my vintage but I don’t care! These guys are good. They’re like all old friends: it can be a long time between catch-ups but when you do get together it’s as if you’ve never been apart. Or, in our case, as if those decades haven’t really gone by.
- Joni Mitchell had an honourable mention on Day Nine. She’s another decades long favourite. After all the questions we found ourselves asking in Mangakino Joni singing Both Sides Now was the only choice.
- And last but by no means least there’s The Woolshed Sessions. This album was a one-off, recorded by a group of friends in a woolshed. To me, the slide guitar (at least I think that’s what it is, I’m no musical expert) of the first note, on the first track, Hey You, is the quintessential South Pacific sound. I hear that note and, no matter what, I feel better. I don’t know how that works, Jess is singing the blues, but it does.
There were two other musical highlights on our trip. They were the two best. The sort where you probably had to be there to understand.
Runner-up to music event of the trip goes to the Taumarunui RSA on Mother’s Day night. They serve a mean roast dinner! Better than I can cook at home. And that night it was accompanied by a regular, old-fashioned sing-along. The sort with clapping, laughing, someone strumming on the ukulele, and chit-chat threaded through the music. Magic! Their repertoire included: Country Road, Pearly Shells, Down to Louisiana … you get the drift. Tunes we all know, voices that were as good as Elkie’s only undiscovered, and it was okay for anyone to join in – except for those with full mouths – not looking at anyone in particular here!
The top spot belongs to the The Waitomo Glow Worm cave sing-a-long. It took place in the cathedral – the largest and highest part of the cave. The acoustics are famous. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa has sung there and, now, so have I! Yep, for real. Our guide invited us to try out the acoustics. A couple on the tour were celebrating their wedding anniversary. The wife sang a most beautiful song, one I didn’t recognise, to her husband. He in turn, presented her with a very large, sparkly ring. So large and sparkly the guide told the husband that he would have to marry him, now. He was only half-joking. As is the Kiwi way, if one person sings a song it should be returned in kind. So the guide, with John and me doing our best to stay in tune, (we were the only Kiwis in the group) sang the beautiful love song Po Kare Kare Ana! Those acoustics are incredible. We sounded half-pie decent!
Here’s the real deal: