Whether it be winding around fjord side roads in Norway, cruising dusty trails of Montana, getting lost in Sweden’s beach towns, zooming along Colorado mountain passes, speeding down Utah’s barren highways with the window’s down and the sun shining through the sunroof, sitting in traffic in rainy Portland, Oregon or just driving around my home town with a desire to hit the road and get lost, I always listen to music.
I have a couple songs that are my “go to” jams for pumping myself up early in the morning or when I can’t find a coffee shop and need a strong voice to wake me up and keep me going.
Of course my oldies and my classic roady songs don’t miss a beat.
I’ve got a handful of “Bieber fever” jams up my sleeve and it is safe to say my Spotify library is no stranger to The Bee Gee’s or Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”.
Any song with the word “ramble” or “wanderer” makes its way into my music library as well.
Whether it be Willy Nelson’s “On the Road Again” or Rudimental’s “Free” I have got quite a random collection of tunes, and I am going to share with you the ones that I could not live without, no matter where I am driving.
“On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson
Duh. I mentioned this classic already, but come on who would I be if this song didn’t get my boots shakin’ to hit the gas and groove on down any open road.
So, there is the original version done by John Fogerty and his band, Creedence Clearwater Revival which is obviously great. However, Tina Turner does a rendition of the song that really gets to me. The song starts slow and then we “listen to the story”. The beat turns up a little as “the big wheels keep on turnin'”. The catchy vibe continues all the way through, until the end when you think the song is about done, but the beat goes to a whole new level, speeds up until we “left a good job in the city, workin’ for the man every night and day”. I seriously can’t stop moving during this song.
PS: windows down is best.
“I’ve Been Everywhere” by Johnny Cash
Even if you have not been everywhere, man does Johnny Cash make you wanna get there.
Best place for listening: Open roads of Montana and Utah
“Ramblin’ Man” by The Allman Brothers Band
This song takes me to a place I have never been but I can feel over and over again. Listening to this jangle takes me to the crisp fall days of the 1970s with an inspiring American Rock Band with soul.
“Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver
Okay this one is kind of tough for the road because every time I listen to it I want to close my eye, sway back and forth, smile and radiate gratitude. This song was originally written as a poem from a friend of Mr. Denver which is no surprise because this song has a real sense of poetic imagery to it. So listen to this one when you really need to feel something. Just make sure you drive with your eyes open, or pull over to take it all in.
“Road to Nowhere” by the Talking Heads
Have you ever gone on one of those road trips where you just have no destination, no plan , zero sense of urgency, not a care in the world for where you end up each night? This song is a great mood setter for such a journey. Hop in the car, start up the engine, throw the map in the back and just drive down “the road to nowhere”.
“I’m on Fire” by Bruce Springsteen
Really I just could not make this list without a Springsteen tune. It was a tough battle to choose between”I’m on Fire” and “Born to Run”, which honestly is more road trip material, but there is just something about that “bad desire” that makes me crave the road ahead. Springsteen just steals my soul for a moment every time I play (or replay) this song.
“If I could Turn Back Time” by Cher
Okay this one is kind out of left field, but let’s be real, often times when we are on a road trip, especially a solo endeavor, we are often (maybe unintentionally) searching for something or better yet running away from something. Perhaps a breakup that left us heartbroken, a feeling of hopelessness or lack of purpose in our life. Whatever it is this song oozes passion when you belt out the lyrics as loud as you can, even if you cannot truly “turn back time”.
“Just Like a Pill” by Pink
Okay not only is this one even further out of left field than Cher, but you must listen to this song very loud, you must radiate confidence and a tiny bit of anger when you sing it but mostly you must allow yourself to gain empowerment and a sense of freedom when you belt out “where I can run, as fast as I can!”.
“Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman
Whether or not you have a fast car, I think you should roll your windows down, even if it is cold outside, throw your arm out the window and roll along with the melodic rhythm while the breeze brings your soul back to life and you remind yourself that you “can be someone”.
“Have You Ever Seen The Rain” Creedence Clearwater Revival
I know I know I sort of already did a Creedence Song, but this one has to make the list. “I waaaana know, have you ever seen the rain”. I don’t really care how many times you have heard this song, even if you hate it (well you can’t actually hate it), it is catchy. It is just good.
“Colder Weather” Zac Brown Band
Whether you are running from love, running to love, running to Colorado, from Colorado. If you have a fraction of a “gypsy soul”, you are in love with a “gypsy soul” or in any way the thought of “colder weather” resinates with you, this song hits the soul good and hard. Two souls running, colliding, or breaking away. Like I said, any song with the word “ramble” in it makes me feel something.
“Boys of Summer” by The Ataris
The original version of this song was released by Don Henley, the Eagle’s vocalist, but The Ataris does a version that I’ve got in my music library. It doesn’t have to be summer and you don’t have to be a boy, but you “can feel it in the air” when there is “nobody on the road”. The passion is what gets me in this song and its tough not to sing along.
“Where the Streets Have no Name” by U2
Every time this song comes on, it starts slow and I think about skipping over it. Then I remind myself to be patient, like you must be with just about any good U2 song. It is a five minute song and you seriously have to wait about a minute and a half before shit gets good, but when you are on the open roads, are you really in any kind of rush anyway? Add this one to the list and patiently wait for it to make you feel something.
“Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
I was on the fence about adding this one. I always am. But its Lynyrd and its always nice to have a piece of him along for the ride, even if Alabama is far from your hometown.
Good Idea: Listen to when it is raining, to remind yourself of a place where “the sky are so blue”.
“Truckin'” by The Grateful Dead”
It is the Grateful Dead. They get a spot on the list. That is all.
A collaboration between Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show is where this song originated, and the original will always be the best (no offense to Darius Rucker or anybody who thinks they have crushed this song on Karaoke Tuesday).
Not only is this a rockstar song for when “I’m running from the cold up in New England” but it is a great campfire jam as well. Get the whole gang belting out the well known lyrics.
I love the road. I love music. I love singing (horribly and getting almost all of the lyrics wrong) and it is safe to say that I could carry this list on for another dozen or five, but I’ve got to keep it to a bakers dozen (plus four bonus jams).
There might be a round two coming shortly, because as you can see I did not add anything Justin Bieber. There might just be a whole post about Bieber himself. Stay tuned and keep truckin’ down those open roads, wherever you may be!
Final thoughts: This photo is a reminder that road trips (if not solo) can often lead to motion sicknes. This a great throwback to the most carsick moment of my life, on The Road To Hana in Maui, Hawaii!