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Soundtrax from our listeners around the world

This summer on Dispatches we've been airing some of our correspondents' and listeners' memories of music they've heard on travels and assignments abroad.  We asked for more letters, and got some. 

Roberta of Gananoque, Ontario:


Like many people, I find music particularly evocative of places I've travelled and times in my life, and a couple of songs always take me back to memorable places. One is Melissa Etheridge's cover of Janice Joplin's "Piece of My Heart". I downloaded that song to my iPod while I was on a tour of duty in Afghanistan. I added it to my running playlist and would listen to it while running along Kandahar airfield early in the morning. Although I can't say for sure that the song and the images occurred at exactly the same time, when I hear it, it reminds me of running along-side the air-field at dawn, with black hawk helicopters lifting off in formation and the sun just starting to heat up the dusty landscape.

My tour in Afghanistan was the most memorable experience of my professional career and that song takes me back there every time I hear it. The other is Bob Marley's "Is This Love". When I was in India in 1998, on an undergraduate term-abroad, it was strangely ubiquitous. I heard it in so many shops in the City of Pune, home of the university where I was studying, that it became the theme-song for my stay. I have no idea why that song was so popular with Indian shop-keepers, but it's a great song, and makes me think of the crowded, colourful shopping district of Pune every time I hear it.

I love your show, thank you for so many interesting stories.

Best wishes,


Jon Claydon, who now lives and works in London, U.K.:

Good morning

I listened with interest to Neil MacDonald's description of hearing Bowie's 'This is Not America' (July 7 Dispatches) in a German beerhall while surrounded by Nazis and Nazi memorabilia. Music is definitely evocative and can take me back to an event (maybe a bit less political) or a period in my life in the first bars of a song. Some music that comes to mind:

Bowie's 'Let's Dance' cassette which I listened to on my Sony Walkman on a Greyhound bus from Calgary to Vancouver when I started university at UBC. The music matched my excitement of a new start in Vancouver, particularly 'China Girl'.

A couple year's later I took a year out from UBC to study French in Paris, and accompanying me was Rick Gleason, the Canadian man who was later killed in the Bali bombing, who liked my idea of getting away for a while. Without the aid of any Walkman I kept singing (in my head, I hope) Joni Mitchell's 'Free Man in Paris'. It was the theme song for the whole time I was there, and while I was escaping the inevitable career grind for one more year, just as the writer of the song had escaped the music industry grind

And a decade after that, living in London at the height of Brit Pop, on a motorcycle drving on the Hammersmith flyover one beautiful summer's evening with Blur's 'London Loves' playing in my ear.

So much evocative music.

All the best

Jon Claydon


Hammond Joshi of Moncton:

A few years ago, 2007, I went to India on business trip and visit a friend from Canada who was trying to establish himself in India. We're both East Indians but lived most of our lives in Canada.

It was a trip with many modes of travel. We went north to the foothills of the Himalayas, flew to Banagalore, visited a coffee plantation, saw a ginger farm, and it was amazing. The whole country is so diverse in all of its geography and people. The one thing I loved is the music. India is an attack of the senses. The colours, the smells, the pollution, the noise of cars and imaginative other forms of transport from overloaded trains and buses, to just plain old fashioned animal powered carts. The music and in particular a song that will forever be etched in my brain, is a song called  "Lift Karadey " by a singer named Adnan Sami Khan.

 It's a song about getting money, and getting ahead. Looking to the heavens for God to give a guy a bit in life. Children would dance in the streets, traffic would grind to a halt and the poorest of the poor, would rejoice. It was an anthem to them. To me it reminds me of just how great we have it in Canada and how a song can literally warm the hearts of those that have nothing but hope. It's a catchy little number and I love it. Thanks.


Elaine Cawadias of Ottawa:

The first trip my husband and I took as a married couple was in 1981.  We went to Mexico and visited several archeological sites.  Chichen Itza and Uxmal were amazing but we will especially remember our experience at Teotihuacan. 

Picture it. Ee are at the top of the Pyramid of the Sun enjoying the view and the magnificent ruins.  And then we heard it; "can you take me to Funkytown?"  Making his way up the steep steps of the pyramid was a young fellow with a ghetto-blaster the size of a small suitcase (as they were "back in the day") blaring out that classic disco hit Funkytown. Unforgettable.


Damon O'Brien of Victoria:

Rick, I caught your program last week, and was fascinated by your story about covering Marc Garneau's launch into space (Dispatches June 16), and the music that experience lodged in your memory.  I thought I would share a musical passport with you of my own, which I hope you enjoy. 

I was in Bornean Malaysia a few years ago, and like other young drifters, I would pick up the guitar whenever I saw one, hoping to endear myself to the locals, whose naive tongue I knew next to nothing of.  Music being, after all,  the 'universal language.'   It turns out there are lots of equally clumsy guitar players over there, and like me, they also love American pop music.  Their handicap being, however, that very few of them could speak more than the most basic English. 

What a strange and joyful experience, to play in a room full of smiling until-just-then strangers, all singing along with great spirit, using "la-la-la-la" throughout the many verses of "Hotel California" and coming in strong on the chorus.  I'll remember that song with great fondness, and thank you for sending my thoughts back to those verdant days.

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