Train Songs & Beach Blurs


st vincent guitar

Annie Clark

I’ve spent more early mornings and late nights on Amtrak trains than I can remember (Foursquare and Facebook are the only true court stenographers of this superfluous topic). One bag slung over my shoulder, containing a litany of books, snacks, chargers, and toiletries – the contemporary, and obligatory, twenty-something’s bindle. Checking in at San Diego’s Sante Fe Station, historic in its own right, but now fingerprinted by agitated riders and lost children of all ages. Pigeons touch down like prehistoric helicopters, and I’m perpetually yawning. The ride to Fullerton Station in Orange County takes roughly two hours, sometimes longer, based on delays – and there were many. From that particular route, you can watch the Pacific Ocean whir by like an indifferent and holy flip book. I’m not entirely spiritual, but the coastline at night, paired with a good song, can put the fear of God into your fibers. Alone, riding with a pair of tangled headphones, I’d leaf through the pages of something that I didn’t care about. I was visiting my girlfriend, and when my feet touched that OC pavement, my excitement gave me the bounce of an astronaut. She wore wayfarers. Beat up Converse. But that’s another story.


Jim James

During these trips up – and the subsequent ones back – I listened to a myriad of different artists, ranging from Jim James fronted bands to electro-indie. The perfect playlist can place you in a reverie of emotion. And when you’re on a train, waged with solitude, you have to dial up soundtracks to accompany the ever-changing terrain outside of your smudged and scratched window. Now I rarely make the trip up to Orange County, and when I do it’s to visit my friend Nathan in Costa Mesa. The days of space travel and sunglasses are gone. A dot in an old horizon. But I designed the playlist below as a sort of embrace to those times.  Musique Le Pop’s “Turn to Sand” sort of sums up the feeling, but so does Seoul’s “Stay With Us”. Probably, to be completely too confessional on an entertainment website, I felt buried alive with memories while compiling this playlist – Broken Social Scene’s “Lover’s Spit” will do that do you. And of course the needle stops with Julia Holter’s beautifully vulnerable, hypnotic, and lyrical “Night Song” – a track so confessional in its presentation that you feel lost in the stained glass corridors and sun slivered chambers of the Los Angeles artist’s anamnesis. This mix is hand crafted for train rides, night walks, snowy days, and beach visits. Anywhere you’re going important, anywhere alone.



Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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