Hikin’ and Groovin’: Bust a Move with this Spring Hiking Playlist
Sometimes, taking a walk through nature provides all the sounds you could possibly want. Birds chirping, creatures rustling through the brush, and wind softly blowing through the trees are just a few of the many delights on an outdoor soundtrack. Sometimes, nature is your playlist. But for the times that you’re looking to let the music guide you on your hiking journey, I’ve got you covered! Listed below are some groovy tunes that would make a marvelous soundtrack to your outdoor adventure. Some are literally inspired by or written about nature, and others are simply great songs that may make you smile.
Freedom is Free by Chicano Batman:
Let’s start this thing out groovin’ and inspirin’! Not only does this song make you want to bust many moves, but it has an amazing message. It feels like a lot has been taken away from us lately and things can feel uncertain, scary, and out of our control. Chicano Batman reminds us “That the galaxies are all around us / And life will flow on as long as the grass grows and the water runs” and “you can’t control how I feel, no way / Cause / Freedom is free.” There are still things we do have control over, including the music we listen to, or perhaps, making a healthy decision to get outside and interact with your natural spaces! This song does a great job at reminding us of that and I highly recommend dancing it out with this one.
The Breeze by Dr. Dog:
I interpret this song as a reminder to practice mindfulness. Dr. Dog references multiple natural topics including the snow, the ocean, and as the song title suggests, the breeze. As we get caught up in the worries and anxieties of our day to day lives, the song encourages us to take a moment to appreciate natural occurrences that are constantly happening all around us and be mindful of the beauty that surrounds us. Sometimes something as simple as the breeze is enough to bring us back into the present moment.
The Bird Song by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard:
This song is great because, despite it being a little silly, it provides a great existential topic to consider. The main repeated lyric is “to a bird, what’s a plane?” Full disclosure: I’m not a bird. I can imagine, however, that a bird has a completely different view and understanding of planes and their meaning to the world than we do. To me the song reminds us that our experience and knowledge really shape the world around us. It reminds me that perception is reality and inspires me to be a little extra compassionate to our fellow humans, all of whom have completely different experiences than our own. And that is something beautiful, indeed, as we have so much we can learn from each other for that very reason!
Like a River by My Morning Jacket:
The lyrics are jam packed with references to nature in this one, and I wanted to include this song for two reasons. First, because it’s just lovely. I find it peaceful, pleasant, and incredibly calming. Second, I include it as an ode, of sorts, to one of our amazing and powerful water sources, the Truckee River. We are so lucky to have such a marvelous water source right smack dab in the middle of our city! What's more, it connects two amazing bodies of water - Lake Tahoe, world renowned for its beauty and adventure, and Pyramid Lake, a historic and culturally rich marvel of Northern Nevada. I intend to listen to this song walking alongside the Truckee River and appreciate it and all its flowing glory.
Plantasia by Mort Garson:
Alright. Stick with me on this one, because in full disclosure, this one is WEIRD. Is it absolutely glorious? Yes. ABSOLUTELY GLORIOUS. Nonetheless, it is odd. It sort of feels like you are riding an orchid through space and ultimately land upon a planet full of lush green forests in which all plants play golden instruments. Or is that just me? Regardless, I highly recommend you fully embrace the quirkiness and just go with it.
Pachamama by Beautiful Chorus:
This song is almost meditative, performed completely a cappella, with beautiful vocal harmony integration. The lyrics invite you to connect with nature, alluding to the Earth as “home.” The Earth is indeed our home and at a time where human connection may be difficult, this may be the perfect opportunity to connect with our home planet!
Tumbling Tumbleweeds by Sons of the Pioneers:
Tumbleweeds are actually the remnants of an invasive species called Russian Thistle. When Russian Thistles die, they dry out and turn into tumbleweeds that are light enough to roll along with the wind in order to spread their seeds. Overall, Russian Thistles (and accordingly tumbleweeds) are not actually good, at least not for our Native species because they spread so rapidly and choke out our wonderful Native plants. However, the idea of tumbleweeds as depicted in this song is certainly a beautiful theme to keep in mind, during times of chaos, and perhaps just through life, in general. Now, take a big deep breath in and out and sing along with the Sons of Pioneers and me… “Cares of the past are behind / Nowhere to go, but I'll find / Just where the trail will wind / Drifting along with the tumblin' tumbleweeds.”
Out in the Country by Three Dog Night:
“Whenever I need to leave it all behind / Or feel the need to get away-ay-ay / I find a quiet place / Far from the human race.” Is this one perfect, or what?! Honestly, this song is fabulous for anytime we are feeling overwhelmed because it reminds us that nature is the perfect place to re-center ourselves and find balance in our lives. Nature is accessible to all of us and can be greatly beneficial to our physical and mental wellness. Thanks for reminding us, Three Dog Night.
Sun Go Down by Fat Night:
This is literally a song about watching the sun setting at the end of the day. In the context of the song, it’s from the balcony (how crazy relevant is that?!), but singing along “goodbye Mr. Sun, I’ll see you in the morning” is just absolutely splendid for any sunset experience. Plus it’s just a great sentiment to remember, always. Despite the inherent uncertainty of the times, and universe as a whole, we can always look forward to and expect the sun to rise. This song has a lovely chill funk vibe and always makes me feel relaxed and at ease.
[Nothing But] Flowers by Talking Heads:
Alright we’re bringing the groove back with this one. The Talking Talking Heads are one of my favorite bands of all time, so naturally, I had to include at least one of their songs. [Nothing But] Flowers reveals many themes regarding human nature and our relationships with and amongst the natural landscape. The song plays with several contrasting ideas and beliefs that I think many of us may think about whilst living in modern society. On one hand, we have done a lot of damage to the environment in the name of materialism and this saddens and angers many of us. On the other hand, many of those same sad and angry people may be equally upset if they did not have easy access to parking (David Byrne sings “Once there were parking lots / Now it's a peaceful oasis” ironically pointing out that even a “peaceful oasis” may be something to cause a ruckus amongst us modernized humans.) Basically, we humans are really great at finding discontent in our day-to-day lives, struggling to find the balance between enjoying our modern day lifestyles whilst fighting for and supporting environmental activism. I use this song to remind myself to hold compassion for myself, my fellow humans, and certainly for the planet, and to inspire me to continue fighting for that balance. Plus, the song is groovy as heck, so go ahead, bust a move.
Fantastic Man by William Onyeabor:
Okay okay okay. So this one is here because you just need to listen to it. As someone far more hip than me might say, this one is “straight fire.” Did I say that right? I’m not sure. Regardless, this song is groovy and funky and makes me want to dance and sing to trees. Also, quite simply, it puts a smile on my face and I hope it puts a smile on your face, as well.
Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra
A classic, indeed. Included on countless soundtracks and arguably one of the most popular pop tunes of all time, and for good reason; it’s simply marvelous. The song is quite literally about the sun coming out after a series of rainy days. A classic theme, as, no matter how many rainy days there are, the sun will always return upon us.