|Your friends would be happy like the people in this stock photo if you have some good tunes on the road.|
So, as a public service, here is a list of 15 songs often overlooked by people while they are looking for a good road trip playlist. Don't leave home and go on the roads without these songs.
1. Eddie Vedder - Hard Sun
Perfect for: When you are running away from home to start a new life in Alaska (please don't do that).
Best lines: "There's a big / a big hard sun / beaten on the big people / in the big hard world"
This song was famously used in the 2007 movie Into the Wild -- for good reason. Combine the folksy guitar riff with Vedder's utterly soulful singing, and you got yourself a tune that is not only calming and peaceful, but great for a lonely drive as well.
2. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Dani California
Perfect for: Taking a drive on Pacific Coast Highway on a sunny day.
Best lines: "With a name like Dani California / Day was gonna come when I was gonna mourn ya"
This is a bit of a borderline between "widely known" and "underrated". Red Hot Chili Peppers as a band is pretty popular in the road trip circles, and Dani California is certainly one of their most famous songs. That said, the song is still rather new in "road trip song" standards, so we will allow it to be on this list.
3. Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
Perfect for: When you are the designated driver driving your friends home after a pub night.
Best lines: "If I'm not back again this time tomorrow / carry on, carry on, as if nothing really matters"
If you haven't tried this already, then do it now: Jam your car full of your friends (preferably ones who aren't shy) and, without any warning, just start playing this song on the stereo. Chances are the mood inside the car will change instantly, as your friends will automatically put on their best Freddie Mercury impression and start rocking out to this song -- bonus points if you and your friends can nail down the five-part a cappella.
4. The Doobie Brothers - Listen to the Music
Perfect for: All occasions.
Best lines: "What the people need / is a way to make 'em smile / it ain't so hard to do if you know how"
I don't think there is an occasion where this Doobie Brothers classic is not good for. In the age where most of the songs are angry and pessimistic, we need more happy songs like these that seeks to do nothing but put a smile on your face. Being at the same time insanely catchy, this is the perfect song to sing along to as well.
5. Gary Numan - Cars
Perfect for: Cruising inside a 1980s MG roadster with the top down in the middle of London.
Best lines: "Here in my car / I feel safest of all / I can lock all my doors / It's the only way to live / In cars"
It's surprising that this song doesn't show up more on the "best driving songs" list on the internet -- this song describes perfectly my relationship with the two vehicles I own and how I feel about driving in general. The classic 80s sound with synthesizers is definitely a bonus as well.
6. James Brown - People Get Up and Drive Your Funky Soul
Perfect for: If you are feeling good about yourself and want to go for a solo-drive around the city.
Best lines: "Raise up, get yourself together / And drive that funky soul"
It is not just rock music that is perfect for driving as well, and we have none other than the God of Funk to give his best argument in this debate. Some of you may know this song being used in a slightly different context, but put Peter Parker inside a classic Ford LTD in the middle of Manhattan, and the scene will still work perfectly.
7. Simon & Garfunkel - Baby Driver
Perfect for: Testing out the kit-racing car that you spent almost a year building for the first time.
Best lines: "They call me Baby Driver / And once upon a pair of wheels / I hit the road and I'm gone"
Another underrated classic from one of the best duos in modern contemporary music. Simon & Garfunkel are not exactly known for making driving music, but their collection of folk and country music are actually quite excellent. In the case of Baby Driver, they actually produced a rock song that is quite unlike their usual calming style.
8. Meat Loaf - All Revved Up With No Place To Go
Perfect for: Ummm... Riding a Harley Davidson while bursting out of a graveyard?
Best lines: "I was a varsity tackle and a hell of a block / And when I played my guitar / I made the canyons rock"
All you need to know about Meatloaf's place in automotive culture could be seen on the album art of Bat Out of Hell (yes, this song shared the same album as one of the most iconic road trip songs of all time) -- a Harley Davidson-like motorcycle bursting out of a graveyard. How much more hardcore could this be? This particular song features a fantastic piano piece and an awesome saxophone solo that will get you pressing on the gas pedal. Yes, you read that right.
9. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - Home
Perfect for: Heading home in your car after a week-long camping trip.
Best lines: "Alabama, Arkansas / I do love my Ma and Pa / Not the way I do love you"
I was first introduced to this song by an Irish bloke and a girl from Quebec -- a bit of an unusual combination, yes. However, it is not really a surprise, as people from these places are often more spontaneous, free-spirited, and love a good road trip. We spent a week camping in the pacific coast of Washington and this song was always heavily featured, while we whistled along with the singer. Good times.
10. Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band - Night Moves
Perfect for: Midnight cruising on Mulholland Drive, with Hollywood Hills in the background.
Best lines: "Out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy / Out in the back seat of my '60 Chevy"
You may not drive a '60 Chevy, but try listening to this song while driving on your favorite back roads in the middle of the night with this song playing on the stereo. Between Bob Segar's legendary vocals in this song, the choir singing in the background, the wonderful lyrics, and the slow riffs from the acoustic guitar, this 1970s hit is just pure magic.
11. Third Eye Blind - Motorcycle Drive By
Perfect for: Riding a classic touring bike while heading west into the sunset.
Best lines: "And I've never been so alone / And I've never been so alive"
This is one of the songs I grew up listening to in high school, and every listen, I would always conjure up this image of a guy riding alone on his motorcycle leaving New York City after a bad breakup, while hoping to start a new life out west in California. The lyrics is definitely a highlight, and the song is something that most people definitely overlook from a band that brought you one of the 90s biggest one-hit-wonders.
12. LCD Soundsystem - Get Innocuous!
Perfect for: Driving in the middle of New York City on a busy day.
Best lines: "You will stay until the morning comes / You will normalize / Don't it make you feel alive"
This is one of the more unconventional choices on the virtue that this is not a pop or rock song. Rather, this is a song from the electronic group LCD Soundsystem, which is a Grammy-nominated group that produced many other popular dance tunes. This song even made an appearance on the Grand Theft Auto video game -- guess where I got this particular inspiration from?
13. New Radicals - You Get What You Give
Perfect for: Driving with a friend who likes to reminisce about the 90s.
Best lines: "Don't give up / You've got a reason to live / Can't forget / We only get what we give"
Behold one of the greatest songs to have ever come out of the 90s. This modern classic is an uplifting tune that dives into the social and political issues of its day (albeit still very much relevant now), and features an insanely catchy chorus that would definitely get your friends singing if they are old enough to remember the 90s.
14. The Head and the Heart - Down in the Valley
Perfect for: Taking a cruise on an open back road in central Washington.
Best lines: "I know there's California , Oklahoma / And all of the places I ain't ever been to"
Who says indie bands can't make driving music perfect for travel? This song is features a great mix of retro and contemporary sounds, yet again featuring a great acoustic guitar track, great writing, and fantastic harmony. The song creates a strong visual experience and gets progressively stronger as the song goes on. It is quite something.
15. The Tragically Hip - Blow at High Dough
Perfect for: Blasting through the Canadian prairies in a Canadian-made muscle car.
Best lines: "Out at the speedway, same Elvis thing / Well, I can't catch her but I can get behind anything"
This post is a bit of a tribute to Gord Downie, the lead singer of the Hip, who has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Currently doing his (possibly) last ever tour with his band, they are seen together as a national treasure and are revered and loved all over the country. This particular one is my favorite driving song from their vast line up of excellent rock anthems. Keep on rockin', Gord, we salute you.