The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday September 29th

Office DJ: My I-40 soundtracks

<p>A young Preston Fore happily drives his toy Jeep through his yard.<br>
Photo Courtesy of the Fore Family.</p>
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A young Preston Fore happily drives his toy Jeep through his yard.
Photo Courtesy of the Fore Family.

Chattanooga, Tennessee.

It is known as the "The Scenic City" for its downtown beauty in a valley along the Tennessee River and "Gig City" for its world-famous high-speed Internet.

Others just know the city from Glenn Miller's song about the former train terminal turned event space, the "Chattanooga Choo Choo," or being the home of Moon Pies and Little Debbie snack cakes.

To me, it is home — and my starting point on my way to Chapel Hill multiple times a year.

Part of the reason why I chose to attend UNC was that it was far enough away from home — but not too far. On a good day, it can take a little over six hours... other times it can take a more painful eight — all requiring a delicate balance of good music and podcasts. 

My favorite band — Train — often guides my therapeutic trips alone, screaming songs at the top of my lungs. And my favorite song, "Drops of Jupiter," has become symbolic to my life, since I am always on the move — whether that is traveling to and from Chapel Hill, studying abroad for a whole year or interning in another city for the summer. 

The drive is simple — taking Interstate 75 until it merges near Knoxville with Interstate 40, which I then follow for over 300 miles. 

On the way, I pass Rocky Top — a nickname for the University of Tennessee, the school I grew up rooting for and intended on attending before UNC came along. I have to admit that their fight song is just far superior to ours... just listen to Dolly Parton, Tennessee's proud jewel, sing "Rocky Top," or hear over 100,000 football fans scream-sing it at a game. Might as well visit Dollywood, too, while you're at it. 

Then Asheville's Appalachian Mountains come into view and the lanes of the interstate narrow. 

There is no comparable feeling to having the windows down, music blaring and venturing through multiple windy turns and even a few tunnels. It provides the most direct time for reflection, as you are forced to have two hands on the wheel, eyes straight ahead, thoughts with yourself and the car.

Heading home during fall break is especially beautiful as the autumn leaves fall and flow in the wind.  And during the winter, the mountain tops share their snow showers with the travelers.

From there, it is usually smooth sailing past the monotonous cities and towns of North Carolina, full of frustration when traffic slows for seemingly no reason or from passing the same construction projects year after year.

By hour five or six, hearing music almost becomes irritating itself — usually requiring a switch to a new genre, with nostalgic ones working the best. 

Overall, these songs are my playlist for my pilgrimage to and from home and my second home — Chapel Hill. A mixture of early 2000s pop, rock and country, they help make a long drive worth it, but above all, they help ground you in the scarcity of life and how lucky you are to have the people, opportunities and experiences that make you, you.


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