Danielle Capalbo’s Blog

International playlist

Posted in Sounds of the Middle East by Quiet Giant on May 12, 2009

Music is my favorite thing ever. My crutch, basically.

But until now – sitting in our second-floor hotel room in the middle of the afternoon – it’s played a weirdly minimal role in my personal experience of Cairo. From mosques all over the city, locals siren the call to prayer five times a day and the streets make plenty of noise, which, combined, provide the most culturally authentic soundtrack to an Egyptian adventure. And at Tutotel in Luxor, Melissa and Colby’s birthday celebration was fueled by the DJ’s well-tailored mix of dance music.

But that’s only two parts of the equation:  natural sounds and collective experiences.

Maybe it’s counter-intuitive, but something I love (a lot!) about traveling is getting to carry my own personal soundtrack (read:  the contents of my iPod) to far away places and try it out. Sorta seeing how well my favorite songs fit inside different experiences when they’ve already come to define integral moments of my life, like late-night drives down New England streets and highways. Plus, I rely on certain records for pure comfort.

When I was preparing to fly here, for instance – thousands and thousands of miles from America – I was unconsciously gorging myself on alt-country.

Anyways, since we landed, my iPod’s been dead. So MGMT edged out my favorite bands in the category of most memorable music. Otherwise, I’m looking forward to a bunch of shows at the Performing Arts Center, including an electronic solo act Saturday. That’ll make for good soundtrack material.

Just now, though, my personal soundtrack prevailed accidentally. I sat down to read some articles for class and opened iTunes. “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse” came on and, aside from its vague lyrical relevance, the music just fit:  That super-snug fit you can’t explain without sounding, you know, like I sound right now. Hearing those first notes made me miss everyone back home, and all the other places I’ve been when this song came on and felt equally as perfect. That also made me realize how, in the most basic sense, anywhere you sit in the world has the potential to feel remarkable and to absorb you, and the effects of your life, just like you’ll absorb it, inevitably.

Which is preeeeetty cool.

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