• Giada Martello

Reliving and Longing, Traveling Through Music

Recalling that trip makes me feel alive and brings me to the realization that it basically took a pandemic for me to relive those moments.

Dmitry Goykolov on Unsplash


I know that writing about traveling right when we can’t will make us long for more. However, I also know that relieving our best travels or imagining future ones can bring us solace and hope, especially in times like these.


The best way for me to do so is through music.

So let me take you through a journey of emotions. Let’s press play.


Traveling is one of my greatest pleasures, and so far, Europe has proven to be a pretty enjoyable place to give voice to this passion. It’s straightforward to fall in love with so many different cultures and languages, all enclosed in what seems to be quite a small place compared to the U.S.


During high school, and now that I am at university, I have traveled in many different ways: from surfing couches to sleeping in a bus crossing different countries.

Each one of my travels had one common element: music.


The first song I want to introduce you to is “Paradise” by British indie/rock artist George Ezra.

This song immediately takes me back to Spring 2019, as I was standing in amazement in front of the majestic Prague Astronomical Clock, the third-oldest in the world. I relive walking the streets made of pebbles and the noise and shaking that would fill the air as I was riding with an electric scooter through some of the city’s oldest buildings.

I breathe in the smell of the sweet chocolate and custard pouring out from Trdelnik, the most famous sweet treat to try in Prague.


“If it feels like paradise running through your bloody veins, you know it’s love heading your way,” I was singing at George Ezra’s concert in Prague. In my case, that love was for traveling.


Recalling that trip makes me feel alive and brings me to the realization that it basically took a pandemic for me to relive those moments.


Gabriel McCallin on Unsplash


“Paradise” was not only the soundtrack of my trip to Prague; it was also the opening song to my semester abroad in the U.K.

I had known George Ezra as the guy with a deep voice singing “Budapest,” but I was not considering myself a fan before arriving in the U.K.


However, the Summer I arrived in Birmingham, the weather was strangely perfect, and “Shotgun” (3rd debut single of Ezra’s second album) became the soundtrack of that British Summer for many people, myself included.


Erza is not afraid of exploring the whole spectrum of emotions.

“Why, why, what a terrible time to be alive if you’re prone to overthinking and, why, why, what a terrible time to be alive if you’re prone to second-guessing….”

If the refrain of “Pretty Shining People” starts on a sad note, it does not take long for happiness to arise: “Hey pretty shining people, we’re alright together, we’re alright together.”


This song describes very well my state of mind during the pandemic. Indeed, I have found myself countless times overthinking and worrying about things I can’t control. However, I have realized that I am not the only one and that this is the time to bond with people.


“Get Away,” is a song dealing with anxiety, to which Ezra is no stranger.

I sometimes feel anxious too, and listen to this song to calm down.


During these past months, I went out of my comfort zone and listened to different music genres. Just out of curiosity, I discovered songs by exploring other people’s playlists on Spotify, influencers I was following on Instagram, or friends of friends.


The song “This Is How It Feels” by British rock band Inspiral Carpets is a good example of what I mean.

“This is how it feels to be small; this is how it feels when your word means nothing at all.” The lyrics are not really the definition of a “good-vibes song”; however, the melody and the rhythm suggest otherwise, giving me the strength to think about better times ahead.


I have been listening to this song, especially when I was missing my friends and family. It’s a song that accompanied me through some tough days. However, every time the song comes to an end, my mood improves, thanks to its sound.


Geronimo Giqueaux on Unsplash


Music always gives me hope.

“Nuit Americaine” by French cold wave pop-rock artist Lescop has been my favorite choice after long days at work. Even if the song is French and I don’t get the lyrics, I get the sound. When I listen to it, I feel like going to a club by myself and dancing, letting my soul wander.


Music’s power is that it acts as a universal language and can connect people from different cultures.


Despite not considering myself a Belieber, Justin Bieber’sIntentions” gives me the extra confidence boost I need when I feel down.

“Picture perfect, you don’t need no filter, gorgeous, make ’em drop dead, you a killer.”

I discovered this song randomly last spring when the first cherry trees were blooming, and the weather was starting to be nice again.

This is why I connect it to renewal and internal strength.

Whenever my internal drill sergeant tells me I am not good enough, I listen to it.


Sometimes, the place and context I listen to a specific song stay in my mind too.

My particular summer holiday song is “Malibu” by Miley Cyrus. It brings me back to Portugal’s ocean, where I felt so small in front of infinity, yet so part of the world and so alive.

This song reminds me of being grateful for all of those who make us a better version of ourselves. “You would explain the current, as I just smile, hoping I just stay the same and nothing will change, and it’ll be us, just for a while.”


Music boosts imagination too, and so words, rhythm, and sound are powerful tools to explore feelings.


Two more songs have a special meaning to me. They don’t just explore my feelings but go deeper into my soul’s most potent desires. They instantly connect me to myself.

I associate them with places I still have to visit, as they represent constant growth to me.


Jakub Gorajek on Unsplash

The first song is “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman that I associate with Route 66. I am not talking about the remixed versions; I am talking about the original from 1988.


“You got a fast car. Is it fast enough so we can fly away? We gotta make a decision, leave tonight or live and die this way”.

The lyrics are very powerful: Chapman describes a problematic family-situation and the need to go away, searching for something better. Without plans nor ambitions, just curiosity and open-mindedness.


I imagine renting an old-timer and driving through some desert road along the route, with the summer heat keeping me company during the day, and a sky full of stars being the main show of the night, as I eat convenient food and talk with a friend.


The second song is “Letting Go” by Ben Sollee, which I discovered on YouTube when I searched for artists playing the cello, one of my favorite instruments.


“Forgiveness is a falling leaf, in the changing of the years. As it settles down to the cooling ground...let it go.”

Songs like this one, made up just of voice and one instrument, are compelling. I can absorb their words almost instantly. “Letting Go” is a journey of freedom from regrets and pride.

For this song, I imagine a different kind of travel: less cultural and more spiritual, like a trip to Thailand outskirts or the Way of St. James in Spain.

The song’s calm and soothing rhythm helped me to make peace with my older self and people who hurt me in the past.

Now I often listen to “Letting Go” when I feel like relaxing.


I thought I would’ve never said it, as depressed as I was back in March 2020, but the pandemic made me connect to my most creative side.

I did travel, both back in time and to future destinations. And I encourage you to do the same through music. Perhaps, you’d discover new genres you like; you’d make peace with someone, or you’d change perspective.

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