One of my favorite musical genres can be described as “pissed off, sex-positive female singer-songwriter in the early- to mid-90s who has a lot of feelings about her ex-boyfriend and needs to share them over a poorly played guitar.” No one did this better than Liz Phair (before she sold out, ugh), and none of her songs spoke more to the angsty vagabond in me like “Go West.”
The line “Go West, young man” has been part of the restless American psyche ever since the days when Manifest Destiny was all the rage, but Phair appropriated it in this song to represent her nomadic response to a dud relationship in a dull place. Because sometimes you just have to say “f*ck it” and get out of a rut by hitting the road:
Take off the parking brake Go coasting into a different state And I’m not looking forward to missing you But I must have something better to do I’ve got to tear my life apart And go west, young man
I remember listening to this song on the drive from Michigan to New York when I moved for college. Even though I wasn’t fleeing a breakup (and going east instead of west), the sentiment remained the same: I was blowing the popsicle stand of my old life and moving on to a new place where I could start fresh. And when you’re 18, that’s a pretty cool feeling.
Thus, this song will always be the perfect motivational soundtrack for those times when I just need to uproot and be somewhere new. Try blaring it with the windows down on your next road trip and hopefully you’ll feel the same.