Coldplay – Don’t Panic

Year :
Oasis / David Gray / John Mayer

Rhode Island manages to squeeze a hell of a lot of character into a small package. That’s what we tell ourselves anyway, but I happen to think it’s mostly true. We’ve got a historic New England feel in Providence, beach culture in Narragansett, and all manner of sleepy small town charm in between. There’s an impressive food and craft beer culture here too. Throw in the family and friends, and there’s a lot that keeps me here. I’m not saying I couldn’t leave for good; what I’m saying is that I’d never stop coming back.

Rhode Island also keeps a lot of people here. A lot of people can convince themselves it’s perfect without ever leaving. It’s not really a state of travelers. At least, that’s how I view it in international terms. To the extent that people leave the country, it tends to be on cruises or handheld tours. Preordained vacation packages that require very little effort once the trip’s been booked and the passport’s come in. I’m not judging this type of vacation; there are certain scenarios where it just makes sense. At this stage in my life, my international vacations are clinics in unorganized lollygagging and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But one scenario where I can respect handheld itineraries is a pseudo-educational whirlwind tour of Italy with about twenty high schoolers outside of the US for the first time in their lives.

I went on this trip in the spring of 2001 during my senior year of high school along with TDS’ own Al Lupica among many others. Most of the people on the trip had taken Italian as a language requirement. My Italian teacher was really great at giving us a taste of the culture beyond language through film and documentary. In the classroom, I was fascinated by the local pride of Il Palio, the broad comedy of Johnny Stecchino, the Sicilian abstraction of Kaos. But to be in the country which to that point had only been academic and anecdotal, to make it real and make it mine, was the sort of culmination that most of my fellow Italian students didn’t pursue.

So many great memories and friendships were borne out of that trip, yet over the intervening years I’d managed to forget a lot of Italy itself. I remember getting wedgied on the Spanish Steps by one of my friends and yelling SHIT!! One of the trip chaperones then turned to me and told me I was the reason why foreigners hate Americans. Whatever, man. I was in high school. We all sucked. The one thing every culture around the world shares is shitty high schoolers. After twelve years, I had the chance to revisit Rome in May and retrace some of the sightseeing we did. The only real interaction I had on the Spanish Steps was when some guy tried to win me over into buying one of his touristic wares by saying “I love Obama!” I’d like to ask that chaperone—which of these two memories is the more crass?

That first trip to Italy was so full amazement and naivete and obliviousness and adolescent hilarity, all in the most perfect way. Sure, it was a bit on the rails and not that adventurous, but I don’t think a bunch of high schoolers with no international exposure should have that sort of experience. We got to see a beautiful bit of the world with each other, and that was enough.

We flew back through Heathrow in London and had a decently long layover there. I went into a music store to pick up a new CD; I’d pretty much played out whatever I brought with me. The guy working there convinced me I should pick up a new album from a popular new band in the UK. That album was the self-titled debut from Gorillaz. I bought it, listened to a few tracks, and in a move that is pretty much still to this day a total indictment of my taste in music, opted to return it in exchange for the first Coldplay album Parachutes.

Parachutes had already gotten airplay in the US by that time. I distinctly remember “Yellow” being on the radio well before we’d left for Italy. Anyway, sitting in Heathrow halfway between Italy and home, I put the CD into my portable CD player (remember those?) and sat back to wait out the layover. The first track “Don’t Panic” asserts over its flighty melody “We live in a beautiful world / Yeah we do, yeah we do.” I listened to the rest of the album, sure, but that song got so many repeat plays that it became a soundtrack to the return home. Even through the bus ride from Logan airport back to Providence, I sat staring out the window listening to this song over and over. I believed those words. I’d left Rhode Island long enough to see it for myself.

I’ve traveled plenty more since then, but that same wonder doesn’t ever take hold. I tend to avoid handheld trips, preferring the slightly realer and more haphazard experience over the tame, tightly scheduled one. I don’t really walk away from my vacations with a reaffirmation that we live in a beautiful world. That world only exists in a carefully constructed trip from my youth. But at least I have this song to take me there, a two minute vacation package of my own.

Buy This Song :

  • Buy Now on Amazon
Jeff Bennet (@JeffBennet) goes with Drake any time someone asks him who his favorite band or artist is, because he has this personality flaw where he needs to be all things to all people.

Comments are closed.