Hymns, Hornsby and Hampton

Posted on May 10th, 2011 by James Luckhurst

Hymns, Hornsby and HamptonMost people travelling in a car driven by me express their surprise at the choice of music available for listening. As a former organ scholar, I have a liking for church music and am in my element singing along with the occasional rousing hymn. Throw in a Bach trio sonata or a spectacular toccata and I’m in my element, regardless of the weather outside or how busy the road might be.

I spent a lot of my 20s working in radio, and I will never forget the very first track I ever played as ‘drive time’ presenter on BBC Radio Kent in 1989: Bruce Hornsby and the Range, and a song called ‘The Valley Road’. Great for care-free journeys in the country, even better on one of those seemingly endless roads across America’s west.

But I also used to do a lot of late night radio, and that opened my ears to some absolutely fantastic music – mostly jazz – that still has a place in my CD changer. I only have to hear ‘Flying Home’ by the amazingly talented and energetic Lionel Hampton on his vibraphone, or ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me’ in an arrangement for jazz trumpet and guitar by Ruby Braff and George Barnes, and I’m re-living those exciting late nights in a little studio in Knightsbridge.

OK, they work for me, but perhaps I have spent too long in the car on my own. Church organs and late night jazz aside, what would I choose to keep me happy, and to ensure that my wife wouldn’t complain too much (assuming she’s in the car as well)? Well, here’s my selection. Not so much a ‘Desert Island Discs’ choice, but in my opinion a perfect mix of eight tracks for a journey when the sun is high in the sky, the windows are down, traffic is light and we’re heading somewhere lovely.

1.   Hotel California, The Eagles

2.   American Pie, Don Maclean

3.   London Calling, T-Rex

4.   Go Your Own Way, Fleetwood Mac

5.   Total Eclipse of the Heart, Bonnie Tyler

6.   California Girls, The Beach Boys

7.   Road Trippin’, Red Hot Chili Peppers

8.   The Valley Road, Bruce Hornsby and the Range

Why not share your favourite driving tracks with us!