I’ve been everywhere, man; I’ve crossed the deserts bare, man

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

My last Blog, pondering the question of what might be a suitable anthem for the global travel retail sector, attracted plenty of reaction, and some brilliant suggestions. 

As you will recall, my musings were prompted by an email from long-time industry executive Randy Emch, who had suggested Jimi Hendrix’s Tax Free’ as a suitable option.

My suggested alternatives included (pretty obviously) John Denver’s ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’ (All my bags are packed/I’m ready to go/I’m standin’ here outside your door/I hate to wake you up to say goodbye) and Simon and Garfunkel’s poignant ‘Homeward Bound’ (Homeward bound/Home where my thought’s escaping’/Home where my music’s playin’/Home where my love lies waitin’/Silently for me).

I added ‘The More We Get Together’, often sung at key travel retail industry gatherings (Oh the more we are together, together, together/Oh the more we are together/The merrier we’ll be/For your friends are my friends/And my friends are your friends/So, the more we are together/The merrier we’ll be) but in the end opted for the great Jimmy Buffet’s Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes’.

Reading departure signs in some big airport reminds me of the places I’ve been
Visions of good times that brought so much pleasure makes me want to go back again
If it suddenly ended tomorrow I could somehow adjust to the fall
Good times and riches and son-of-a-bitches I’ve seen more than I can recall

These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
Through all of the islands and all of the highlands
If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane

The (travel retail) empire strikes back

So how did the industry respond? Vocally is the answer. You can see all of the suggestions in my LinkedIn feed but here are some of my top choices.

‘One’ by U2.

Israel-based Director of Operations at Wanda Technology, Ian Kay can always be guaranteed to come up with an innovative suggestion and I very much like his selection of Frank Turner’s ‘The Road.’

“Nothing to do with retail or sales but everything to do with the liberation of travel and the freedom gained from living a global life. Kinda fits the bill I guess,” writes Ian.

Indeed, it kinda does . An outstanding choice and thank you for leading me (and now others) to such a talented songwriter. Sometimes you read something and think, “Damn, why couldn’t I have written that?” This is one of those occasions. I like it so very much. A road warrior’s song if there was ever one.

Well I’ve travelled many countries, I’ve washed my feet in many seasI’ve drunk with drifters in Vienna and with punks in old DCAnd I’ve driven across deserts driven by the ironyThat only being shackled to the the road could ever I be free

No comb [yeah, I know the feeling Cliff – MM] and no toothbrushI’ve got nothing to haulI’m carryin’ onlyA pocket full of dreamsA hand full of loveAnd they weigh nothing at all

Marco Antonio Arilli, Managing Director at Bulldog Duty Free in Miami, goes for ‘Travelin’ Man’ by the great Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band.

“Speaks to me about all the great people we meet,” he writes. Agreed Marco. In travel retail we are all wealthy souls.

Sometimes at night, I see their faces,I feel the traces they’ve left on my soulThose are the memories that make me a wealthy soul

DFS Group Head of Global Real Estate James Assersohn is unequivocal in his choice: “Don’t Stop Believin’ [by Journey] is the only right answer to what’s the best song for us,” he insists.

With mighty lyrics like this James, you might just be right:

A singer in a smoky room
A smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on and on and on

A big shout out to Richard Timmis, Founder of Category Insights Limited in the UK for finding a highly apposite choice. “Trying to think of some Dylan/Cohen. But at the moment as I’m just reconfiguring my jukebox I’ve just seen ‘Whole Wide World’ by Wreckless Eric. Or ‘Beggarman’ by Smoove & Turrell which actually mentions duty free at 1.15.”

I confess Richard I had never heard of Wreckless Eric but with opening lyrics like this, I have been missing a treat.

When I was a young boy
My mama said to me
“There’s only one girl in the world for you
And she probably lives in Tahiti”

To ‘Beggarman’. Indeed it does mention duty free. Here you go, courtesy of Richard Timmis and Smoove & Turrell, and even with a whiff of post-COVID optimism in the party-filled air.

It’s a northern soul disco, cause we can’t afford the lightsWe got a 40 watt bulb making everything look all rightWe got turn tables and speakers and duty freeNow give me somethingBack to the old school live and in your earsIt’s a bring your own party so mine’s a pack of beersDon’t let the bad times get you downThose good times will come back aroundSo bring it on baby

From Joe Harvey at Omnevo comes this set of gems. “When you are running around Cannes especially the Basement Village and you are lost, ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’ by U2 and also with so many meetings ‘Under Pressure’ by Queen and David Bowie.”

Long-time watches, luxury and ecommerce specialist, Mexico City-based Mark Lewis-Jones plumped for ‘I’ve been everywhere’ – the version from legendary American country singer Hank Snow (Johnny Cash’s version is my favourite). Health warning: you’re going to feel tired simply reading the lyrics, let alone remembering them…

I’ve been to Boston, Charleston, Dayton, Louisiana
Washington, Houston, Kingston, Texarkana
Monterey, Faraday, Santa Fe, Tallapoosa
Glen Rock, Black Rock, Little Rock, Oskaloosa
Tennessee to Tennesse Chicopee, Spirit Lake
Grand Lake, Devils Lake, Crater Lake, for Pete’s sake

However, in the interests of journalistic accuracy and antipodean solidarity, I should point out that neither Johnny nor Hank wrote the original. That was the work of one Geoff Mack (1922-2017), a famed Australian travelling troubador.

I’ve been everywhere, man
I’ve been everywhere, man
I’ve crossed the deserts bare, man
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man
Of travel I’ve had my share, man
I’ve been everywhere

I’ve been to :
Whalebone, Drumbeg, Sandwell, Orlebar,
Brickyard, Descanso, Spring Beach, Lockinvar
Taylor Bay, Pilot Bay, Silva Bay, Horseshoe Way
El Verano, Cresta Roca, Berry Point, Daniel Way
Wild Cherry, Upper Berry, Buttercup, Bluewater
Red Wood, Pine Wood, Dog Wood, I’m getting good.

I rather like the New Zealand version (sung by John Hore), though I reckon Ill need a few glasses of Cloudy Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to get it right:

Kaparoa, Whangaroa, Akaroa, Motueka
Taramoa, Benmore, Pongaroa, Horoeka
Rimutaka, Te Karaka, Whangarei
Nuhaka, Waimahaka, Motuhura, Waikaka
Motonui, Hokonui, Papanui, Wainui
Matawai, Rongotai, Pikowai, I’m a guy.

I’ve been everywhere, man . . .

In the marvellous interview below, Geoff Mack relates how he had adapted the song into no fewer than seven languages, including Japanese. Wikipedia suggests there have been 130 versions. Could that become 131 with a travel retail-exclusive variant? You know, I think it just might…