We here in Boston are conditioned to equate “road trips” with leaving town. Whether it’s jetting southbound to New York City, up north to the mountains of Vermont and beyond, or following the sun westward until we hit water, all roads tend to leave our version of Rome. But real estate developer Constantine Valhouli wants us to put the brakes on all that, and to look around and appreciate the Boston and Eastern Massachusetts places and faces that are referenced in countless song lyrics.
The usual suspects are accounted for (Pixies, Jonathan Richman, Dropkick Murphys, Mighty Mighty Bosstones), and there are some time-honored and familiar odes to our town (“Mass Pike” by the Get-Up Kids, “For Boston” by the Hold Steady). There are even some surprise entries by the likes of Tapes N’ Tapes and Tyler, the Creator.
Earlier this month, Valhouli turned heads — and even caught the attention of Duran Duran — with his NYC Music Map, a Google Map breakdown of all relative songs with links to YouTube for each track. Now, after some prodding from friends, the New York- and Boston-based Valhouli has extended it to our town.
“A friend just pointed out that the aboriginals have the concept of ‘songlines,’ singing the stories of the land as a way of finding their way,” Valhouli tells Vanyaland. “It’s a beautiful concept. These maps are, perhaps, our songlines — how we identify and relate to the places where significant moments happened. Boston has such an amazing cultural and musical history that perhaps a map like this is a reminder to see a street you’ve walked down countless times with new eyes. Or that you’re literally walking in the footsteps of the Pixies, the Cars, Joan Baez, and Dylan.”
Valhouli says that this is by no means a complete document, and in addition to the massive help he’s already had from friends, he also welcomes suggestions to musicmapnyc [AT] gmail.com.
Up next, he says, is some much-needed sleep, then maybe a Los Angeles music map (it’s all essentially one big map, with new cities to be added as time allows). But Valhouli says he loves the personal and professional interaction creating the maps have spawned. Speaking of the collaboration — a thread of his Facebook page asking for suggestion generated a few hundred replies — he adds: “It ended up feeling a like a lively dinner party conversation, or a word-game on a road trip. To me, that felt like social media at its best. I’d crowd-source all my projects, if I could.”
And of course, just like anyone else, he’s got a personalized Boston soundtrack all his own.
“In my head, Boston’s songline sounds like a mash-up of the Bosstones, the Dropkick Murphys, Amanda Palmer, and Freezepop,” Valhouli says. “A while back, I hosted a party where the guests performed Boston-themed covers of non-Boston songs. Someone rewrote the Pet Shop Boys’ iconic London song as ‘North End Girls,’ and another friend did Warren Zevon’s song as ‘Werewolves of Boston.’ If I could only remember the lyrics to either of those.”