If you check on Spotify, Pandora or any other music streaming service, you find dozens – if not hundreds – of “driving” playlists, songs that someone has ranked as their favorites for the times behind the wheel.
As much of the country gets set to welcome in road trip season (here in Northeast Ohio being the exception – we never know when summer will actually show up…spring either, for that matter) one of the most important decisions needs to be made - what music will you take with you when you go?
When it comes to actual music in the car, my preferences are pretty varied while driving – sometimes it’s hard rock. Sometimes it’s classic country. Sometimes it’s classic classical (who doesn’t love a little Wagner now and then?).
Here are some of the top “driving songs” that have been playing in my personal mental jukebox.
“I’ve Been Everywhere” – this chaotic TripTik was actually written by an Australian singer Geoff Mack in 1959, with Australian, New Zealand and Great Britain/Ireland versions alongside, though Johnny Cash’s North American version is my favorite.
“Get Out Of Denver” is another frenetic travel story of a good trip gone bad. Singing along, I can usually keep up with Bob Seger for about three or four lines before tripping over my own tongue.
“Red Barchetta” is a song by Rush that describes a future many of us never imagined could actually happen, when internal combustion engines were replaced with “gleaming alloy air cars.” We’re not there yet, but 2035 isn’t all that far away anymore.
“Hot Rod Lincoln” – Speaking of vintage… Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen tell the tale of a race between a Cadillac and a Model A Ford with a Lincoln V8 engine. Bill Kirchen’s memorable guitar lick makes me feel like I’m riding right alongside every time I hear it.
“Running On Empty” – Jackson Browne captures the unseen passing of time and failed plans so well it hurts. “I don’t know where that road turned into the road I’m on.” But we keep moving…
“Irene” – this song by the Clarks, an amazing band from Pittsburgh, tells another story of a life lived through memories of a series of vehicles. Rides in long limousines, white and black, bracket the not entirely happy life of a person who didn’t know how to say no to life’s options. “Life’s just as kind to you as it is mean,” sings writer Scott Blasey.
“Lover ” – as I mentioned at the beginning, we Ohioans never trust the weather to be on our side and this song by recently passed local legend Michael Stanley is appropriate for any time of year. “The Turnpike’s slick, the snow’s as thick as thieves,” is catchy, but the true gem in this song is an audience favorite: “Thank God for the man who put the white lines on the highway.”
What gets your motor running when you head out on the highway? Whatever it is, I hope you turn it up and sing along on the journey.