I took an early train to Copenhagen on the first leg of what felt like a very long journey to Las Vegas. It was strange walking down the dark, silent streets of our little town knowing that I’d be in the permaglare of the strip just 21 hours later.
As the train drifted south, there was cloud cover over Skåne in the early morning light, and the matchstick forests and still lakes looked like a monochrome photo in the sunrise. I was enjoying a gorgeous soundtrack to the sleepy woodland scenery courtesy of Scott’s Bose noise-cancelling headphones, which he kindly loaned me for the trip. I put on some Fleet Foxes with the vague idea that songs about spring might somehow help bring it on in this part of the world.
There is so much to love about travelling with headphones. Dampening the hissing and buzzing of trains and planes is just the beginning. Music adds dimension to what the eyes see, so that everything – landscapes, faces, birds flying – touches a deeper emotion. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, the randomness of song and scenery come together to amplify the meaning of both in a moment of perfect beauty.
I experienced just such a moment as the train reached the southernmost tip of Sweden and plunged into the subterranean darkness of Malmö station.
As we sat in the tunnel, waiting for passengers to come and go, this came on my iPod:
Some god of electronics must have put Sæglópur on my playlist because for seven minutes, that music was the animating force of everything in my universe. The stark piano chords with their touch of delay echoed through the shadows of the tunnel. The sweet, lonely voice called from the darkness as the train began to pull away and emerged into the overcast morning, picking up speed toward the Øresund bridge.
And then something happened that made my heart detonate. At the precise instant that the song broke into its orchestral fullness (that’s at 1:54 for those of you playing along at home), the earth fell away and I was flying over the slate waters of the Baltic sea. In that same moment, the sun burst from behind the clouds scattering diamonds over every whitecap.
It was literally breathtaking, and I can only imagine what my fellow passengers made of the lady gasping and clutching her chest. In a sense, I really was experiencing a cardiac episode, and it was the best episode ever.
The Øresund bridge is a marvel of modern engineering, linking Sweden and Denmark over an 8 kilometer stretch of water that connects the Baltic and North seas. It’s one of the world’s most beautiful roads with its panorama of sea and sky, flanked by the distant gleam of cities on either side. Every time I cross it, I’m moved by the sight of its gray, melancholy waters and the lonely, capsized boat in the middleground.
I was especially affected that morning,with Sæglópur (Icelandic for “lost at sea”) winding down into its quiet, concluding chords as we touched the Danish shore. I felt like I’d been in my very own live version of Dark Side of the Rainbow, minus the munchkins. I arrived at Kastrup airport and headed for Vegas, knowing that none of Sin City’s glitz and glitter could ever touch the perfection of Sigur Rós and a break in the clouds over the Øresund strait.