Songs from a long drive

Starting up

Published March 7, 2018, by Tommy George

This list is actually from an earlier drive, but I’ve dragged my feet to start writing this stuff. Since I’m a bit removed from the initial drive, and thoughts during, this might be a bit of a sterile post. Hang in there!

This drive was a single “radio” style playlist, based on “90’s music”. I don’t remember the specific playlist or station that I started it with. As usual (at least currently) it was via Google Play Music service. I did a bit of skipping here and there, but here are some highlights.

The 90’s are extremely nostalgic. I learned to play guitar, I fell in love with a whole new kind of music, and I probably have the most memories and stories attached to songs from that era. Since this is a catch-up post, it may be a bit dry, and I probably won’t go deep into any particular story. I’m still practicing this whole “writing” thing.


Warm, sunny drive, heading south. Windows could have been down more than they were, but going about 65 makes the wind compete with the music.

Lump - The Presidents of the United States of America.

Lump is a super fun song, and I almost never skip it.

This track came out in 1995, and I was TWELVE years old. (I only just now realized that. I remember feeling much older and smarter back then). It was probably just a little before this that I made the transition from Country-music-only to discovering Alternative Rock, and deciding that it was my favorite thing ever. Being that age, alternative music became a huge influence on me, with regard to style, and musicianship.

Intergalactic - Beastie Boys

I can’t claim to be a big fan of Beastie Boys, specifically, but I do like their style, and this track never gets skipped. It actually wasn’t until more recently that I bothered to really look at the lyrics and realized: It’s just a hilarious song about how great they are at rapping.

If you try to knock me you’ll get mocked / I’ll stir fry you in my wok / Your knees’ll start shakin’ and your fingers pop / Like a pinch on the neck of Mr. Spock

Intergalactic, planetary / planetary, intergalactic

Also, this song has a great vocoder line, and who doesn’t like playing with vocoders?

When I Come Around - Green Day

Another from 1995. (It came out earlier, but I think it charted on radio in 1995, and that’s probably when I heard it). The album, “Dookie”, was one of the first cassettes I ever bought on my own. Yes, I’m old enough that I started on cassettes. Or young enough, depending on your age. ;)

Just such a cool 4-chord rock song.

Always Be My Baby - Mariah Carey

I definitely wasn’t into much pop, R&B, or “real” hip-hop during the 90’s (I was young, please forgive me). I probably only heard this song at the skating rink on Friday nights, and didn’t care a thing about it. But, it played during this drive, and gets an honorable mention, because it has more recently been an inspiration for kicking off a new side-project that I’m sure I’ll mention in the future. For now, that’s under wraps.

U Can’t Touch This - MC Hammer

if you can’t move to this / then you probably are dead

Who doesn’t like this song? (Actually, don’t answer that. I probably don’t want to know).

On the streaming service I use, I notice that it sounds like the mix is usually lower than a lot of more recent songs. I’m sure this can be chalked up to the “loudness wars” or what-have-you – so I usually just turn it up.

Just a Girl - No Doubt

This riff! Such a fun song, and extremely catchy. On a sunny drive, with the windows down, this song absolutely gets turned up. And yes, I sing along. If you play guitar, you should learn to play the main riff in this song. It can be a fun little exercise.

Killing Me Softly - Fugees

In the 90’s, I was probably tired of this song. Not being a big fan of hip-hop at the time. I’m pretty sure I remember this song bleeding over onto the alternative rock station for a bit. But now… I really like the melodies, and instrumental layers. I’m aware that this is a cover, but can’t recall if I’ve ever really listened to the original.

Self Esteem - The Offspring

I almost have to credit this song with my learning to play guitar. I wanted to become a drummer for most of my childhood (at least as far as musical aspirations went). One day I was at a friend’s house and picked up his guitar. Almost by accident, having never actually played a guitar, I picked out the main chord progression for this song on the top string. I remember his sister asking if I already knew how to play the guitar (as I sat there noodling with melodies on just the top string). I guess I discovered the way a stringed instrument worked, with regard to finding notes and playing dynamics, just made sense to me. Literally that day I decided I wanted to learn to play guitar instead of drums.

I know some of you are curious: His guitar was a red Fender Stratocaster. As of this writing, as many guitars as I do have, I have never owned a Fender guitar. I went a different direction at first.

Peaches - The Presidents of the United States of America

This song. I remember this song was the bane of at least one local DJ at an alternative rock station. I remember actually calling the radio station to request this song. The DJ picked up. I said “I want to request a song”. He said “Not Peaches”. I requested Peaches.

It’s incredibly weird. It’s hilarious. It’s by a band that purposely played with fewer-than-standard number of strings on their guitars. I was young, and all of this goofiness was right up my alley. Also, the music video for this song ends up with the band fighting ninjas. It’s as if they were purposely marketing to Junior High boys.

Say My Name - Destiny’s Child

I wouldn’t have cared about this when it was popular, but I definitely appreciate it as an adult. The changing rhythms. The confrontational message. I dig it.

Unpretty - TLC

You can buy your hair if it won’t grow / You can fix your nose if he says so / You can buy all the make up that MAC can make / But if you can’t look inside you…

Not on any regular playlists of mine, but it was definitely a cool groove at the time. It was later in the drive, the temperatures were getting cooler (windows down at this point). For the first time, I really paid attention to the lyrics.

Two Princes - Spin Doctors

I will almost never skip this song. This is definitely a great summertime, windows down, drive-fast song. The drums! That snare in the intro!

There was a restaurant in my home town that we would frequent for a while. I remember hearing this song play on jukebox and had to know who/what was playing. I learned another song from that jukebox, but that’s for later.

I would be sure to bring quarters, so I could play this song while also playing the nearby Cruisin’ USA arcade racing game.

Some time later, I bought the album (“Pocket Full of Kryptonite”) at a pawn shop for $2. Totally worth it.

Mr. Jones - Counting Crows

I never had the albums, but usually enjoyed Counting Crows on the radio. Did you ever notice that almost nothing rhymes, but the songs are still great? Great example of not putting yourself in a box while song-writing.

Santa Monica - Everclear

The first CD I ever bought with my own money (to my best recollection at the moment) was Everclear’s “Sparkle And Fade”. One of my friends sold me his copy for $8. At 12 years old, I probably shouldn’t have been listening to albums like that. But musically, it was amazing. This song also has one of the earlier riffs I learned in the early years of playing guitar. I probably drove my parents crazy with that.

The Freshmen - The Verve Pipe

When I was young I knew everything

Need a sad song? The melodies, and tempo of this one are so great. I turned this way up and sang along. During this playlist, there was a lot of upbeat stuff. This was a great “palette cleanser” – but also, just such a great song. Worth listening to.

MMMBop - Hanson

I skipped it halfway through. I’m not lying. Look at this list. Am I in any position to lie? But, I will tell you a story: I remember where I was the first time I heard this.

Actually, I saw this song first. I was walking out the door of my parents house, and the video came on (I was probably watching MTV until my friends were ready to go ride bikes or something). It was so catchy, I stayed and watched the whole thing. When it was over, I immediately went out and told my friends about an amazing new song. Ah, 13 years old.

This song also has an extra special story, but… that’s for a whole other time. Also, maybe I don’t trust you with that information yet. ;)

Basket Case - Green Day

Fun, and fast. Super catchy. Just long enough. Musical influence. Lyrically, I can’t say I relate – but I will usually let this one play.

I Want You - Savage Garden

The “rapid-fire”, “not rap” verses blew my mind when I first heard this song. I don’t usually hear this on purpose, but I definitely let it play. This whole playlist was a ton of nostalgia, and this was worth listening to. Yes, I did my best to sing along. It’s just fun.

One Headlight - The Wallflowers

I remember learning most of this album with my cousin, again, as a teenager. I’ve avoided using the word “chill” to describe certain songs, but that’s about the vibe. It’s an interesting story, catchy, and has great dynamics.

Zombie - The Cranberries

You know this song, right? Yes, more influential music from my pre/teen years. I remember hearing the huge, angry guitar sound when the chorus hits and just knowing that I wanted to be able to write and play music like that.


There’s always a mood happening (and sometimes it changes) during the drives. Sometimes songs I really like just aren’t right for the moment. Skips happen more often during “radio” playlists (like on this drive), because I just want to keep a certain thing going.

90’s music was hugely influential on me, and so it’s easy for me to enjoy a lot of it. Sometimes even if I don’t particularly like the song, but the nostalgia that comes along with it. There are a few examples of that above, as well.

While we’re on the nostalgia trip though, I think it would be fair to mention some songs that (whether I like them or not) got skipped in the moment. Because I’m nice, and you might like to check these out:

So, what did I miss? Did I mention something, or start a story that you’d like me to finish? Are you left with questions? Hate-mail? Feedback?

Please, send questions and feedback! “tommy” at