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Strombo and the art of the motorcycle odyssey

George Stroumboulopoulos shares favourite songs and memorable drives


Late night talk show host throttled up with blues-rock to score his motorbike trip on a sport-touring machine with spoked rims, beefy forks and a chain-drive system.

Who: Host of George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight and The Strombo Show, which Sunday nights at 8 p.m. ET on CBC Radio 2.

Drives: In the city, he bombs around in a traditional white/blue with orange highlight Suzuki GSX750 and black and green Kawasaki Ninja. On his recent motorcycle trek, he rode a yellow and black bumblebee BMW F800GS.

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Most memorable drives:

"This year I rode from Toronto to Los Angeles. I went through Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee, which I love, into the Delta, because I'm a big fan of music. Most of this road trip centred around sites that connected me to songs that my mother used to sing to me growing up; or songs that I love listening to because songs are such a big part of my life. We rode into the Deep South in the Delta, because I love the blues, down to New Orleans, where we paid a visit to the hotel where one of my favourite musicians [Johnny Thunders, guitarist for New York Dolls]died. From New Orleans, we bombed west and went through Texas into Fort Davis, up to Austin, which is a great city for music, and then New Mexico, Arizona, across to California. We went from the south entrance of the Joshua Tree and rode through the entire national forest as the sun was going down, and had a great barbecue dinner at this rib shack I go to whenever I'm in this particular place in the desert."

"When I was 21, I drove across Canada in my mother's old car when I got my first radio job in Kelowna, B.C. I remember I needed to get out there, so she said. 'Take my car and go.' I picked up my friend, who had a job in Red Deer, A.B., so we left Toronto and drove all across Canada, and I dropped her off and I kept on going. I had driven to LA when I was 18 in a car that was fun, and I've driven across Canada or the U.S. 10 or 15 times in my life, and I love big road trips, but there was that moment when you first drive across this country and you think 'wow, this is beautiful.' Getting into the interior of British Columbia was incredible."

Five Road Trip Tunes (and two bonus tracks):

(1) You Can't Put Your Arm Around a Memory

"Driving through Louisiana listening to Johnny Thunders' tune was really lovely. He's a rock 'n' roll guitarist, but a lot of it to me is bluesy, and glam-y in its sound."

(2) Joshua Tree

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"Rocking to that [U2 album} through the park was incredible."

(3) All Night Long

"In the deep south I was listening to an instrumental by Junior Kimbrough - it's Delta blues - and listening to Junior Kimbrough riding a motorcycle down Highway 61 made everything came together."

(4) Last Caress

"In Virginia I was listening to Metallica's cover of a Misfits song because there are a couple of points you get a little sleepy on the motorcycle, so you unzip the jacket to get some cool air running in, and I was jamming out to heavy early Metallica riding though the hills."

(5) By the Time I Get to Arizona

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"Public Enemy's song was really awesome; it's one of my favourite hip-hop songs."

(6) El Paso

"I listened to Marty Robbins in El Paso because my mother used to sing that to me a lot, it's the reason why we went there. This is a ballad."

(7) The Hair Song

"Black Mountain's perfect at high speeds in high heat with a long road ahead."

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