Hearing a brilliant song that encapsulates my exact mood fills my chest with a sense of burning joy. It is a blissful moment that makes me thankful for my existence as a being with such complex emotions. Though it’s not a feeling exclusively reserved for my music; travel has the power to stir these compelling sensations too.
As an avid solo traveller, music has at times provided me with the same comfort as a fictional character in a book or a real-life travel companion. It has heightened my senses to the incredible surroundings, filled my heart with gratitude, given me incredible confidence and has often proved more emotionally evocative than simply looking back at photographs. My first solo trip to Thailand and an anxious hike in Slovenia are just two musical-related memories that I will always associate with a specific band, transporting me back the instant I listen again.
When I’m hiking my favourite soundtrack of all is of course that of nature. But when my legs get weary and motivation dips, music has the power to carry me beyond the fatigue, empowering and inspiring me to just keep on going.
As a new resident Travelette, I wanted to share my indie folk playlist for hiking that encapsulates the sounds of feeling free and unstoppable. It celebrates getting lost and exploring nature’s wonders by the most basic and stripped back mode of transport available, on foot.
So have a read about my personal top songs, download the playlist for offline listening and dig out those walking boots – adventure awaits.
What’s in here?
‘No Ceiling’ – Eddie Vedder
No hiking playlist would be complete without a song by Eddie Vedder from his soundtrack to the poignant travel film ‘Into The Wild’. Just as this album is made for a movie, listening to it makes you feel like you’re in one too.
‘No Ceiling’ is the ultimate folk-rock ballad. The plucky banjo that forms the basis of the track totally encapsulates sun-drenched hippy vibes yet Eddie Vedder’s rock-star voice gives the track gritty substance. It’s a pairing that works perfectly for a film with such uplifting but melancholic undertones.
The lyrics in this song highlight a deep appreciation of the wonders of nature: “moving on a scene surreal/no, my heart will never/will never be far from here” and the fulfilment of escape: “as I walk the hemisphere/got my wish to up and disappear”. Just like many of Eddie’s songs on this album, the lyrics are just as beautiful read as poetry on paper as they are sung.
Closing my eyes whilst listening to ‘No Ceiling’ transports me to hiking at sunset in the outback without a care in the world. However it’s a short-lived fantasy; after only 1 minute and 34 seconds the song abruptly comes to an end – musical blueballs if I ever did experience it. But luckily there’s always repeat.
‘Something Like Happiness’ – The Maccabees
As one of my favourite bands of all time you may like to consider me biased, but ‘Something Like Happiness’ is truly one of the most uplifting indie songs I know, both lyrically and instrumentally.
Plunging you head first into orchestral-like climaxes, sing-along harmonies and electric guitars, the track sets the uplifting tone from the very outset. The first two verses provide an interesting contrast to this initial sound though. The elements here are delicately stripped back, laying bare the lead singer Orlando’s buttery smooth vocals. But the chorus and later verses’ soon revisit the familiar elated sound; the overall effect of these musical dips is a ticking time bomb of beaming happiness.
The lyrics nod to moments that I interpret as acts of determination and escape (“you just know when you know/you’ve got somewhere to go and you go”), but it’s mainly the appreciation of being happy or when your loved ones are, that really gets me.
The music video for this track is one I can especially appreciate having been born in south London and living there again as an adult. Filmed around the band’s local area of Elephant and Castle, The Maccabees capture cinematography described as making the “mundane seem amazing, the grotesque beautiful and the forgotten prominent”. It’s a beautiful concept that I think any creative or traveller can relate to.
‘Something Like Happiness’ is a song that is guaranteed to lift my mood and after it was the anthem of my hiking weekend in Switzerland, I knew it deserved a solid place within this list.
‘Minimum’ – Charlie Cunningham
The lyrics in this song will surely resonate with travellers experiencing any form of self-doubt. Not only does Charlie perfectly acknowledge the struggles of emotional and physical stress when we perhaps feel we should not (“you got the whole of the world at your feet/ but you’re still shaking?”), he states matter of fact “you need to make up some ground”. Simply put, get you sh*t together and get going. Hey – sometimes we know it, just need to hear it out loud.
The stomping acoustic beat that persists throughout the song is a powerful reminder to keep up the pace and ensures the adrenaline pumps. This simply tapped rhythm is the backbone of the song, serving to highlight the simplicity and rawness of Charlie’s instrumental and vocal skill.
The vocals in ‘Minimum’ are hauntingly dream-like. It matches perfectly with the track’s romantic imagery such as dropping a dragging weight, to “let your wings unfold”. I’m sure there are many travellers, like me, who wish for nothing more than the super power of flight.
Charlie’s debut album ‘Lines’, on which this track appears, is wistful and evocative British acoustic music at its best. Here’s hoping he doesn’t keep us waiting too long for more – our hiking bucket list just can’t wait.
If you have any suggestions of songs that could be added to this playlist, please leave a comment!
For more of my themed playlists head over to my blog,