the sound of your morning: road trip songs


Image above via Veer

Saturday morning, I packed up the car and picked up Amy & Amy to drive from Brooklyn down to Pennsylvania to . . . celebrate Brooklyn. For some reason, the three of us never stopped laughing about how funny it was to leave Brooklyn to honor it in another state, but we’re so glad we did. Terrain set up an entire day celebrating all sorts of Brooklyn makers, writers and creatives, and it was a blast getting to see everyone in one space and soak up a little sunshine in Terrain’s giant greenhouse. As much as I loved seeing everyone and getting to meet new people, one of the things I (and I think Amy & Amy) looked forward to the most was making a music mix for the two-and-a-half-hour road trip.

My favorite way to listen to music used to be in the privacy of my own bedroom, so I could jump around in front of a mirror like a lunatic and pretend to sing (added bonus: totally great exercise without feeling like you’re working out). But lately, I’ve really been missing all those hot summer days spent driving around in my old car blasting music at a positively deafening volume. Car rides, whether it’s to the local Home Depot or somewhere hundreds of miles away, have again become my favorite way to listen to music. Something about being enveloped in loud music in a small space that feels like your own private world just makes the music seem that much better. So today I’m (along with AC) sharing my favorite road trip songs. A mix of songs that make me want to roll down the window and sing at the top of my lungs, and songs that make me want to stare off into the road’s vanishing point and imagine being the person or the singer behind the lyrics.

Road trip mixes seem to be something people really get into when it comes to picking the right songs, so I’d love to hear what YOUR perfect road trip music is. Is it one special song you have to hear when you’re driving for hours? Or is it a type of music that gets you through long trips? Whether it’s fast or slow, classic or obscure, I’d love to hear what you turn on when the doors close and the engine starts. Please share your favorite YouTube, Myspace, or iTunes links so we can all enjoy (and buy/listen) your picks. Here’s to long rides and good music. xo, grace

Neil Young and Crazy Horse, “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere” — The way that some people feel about Bob Dylan is the way I feel about Neil Young. I love Dylan of course, but Neil has always been my go-to guy for every possible emotional need that can be filled with music (isn’t that all of them?). His voice (Shakey was such a fitting name for this book about him) is one I could probably listen to all day every day for a long time and not get tired. This song in particular is great for summer road trips with the windows down and your hand riding the air like a wave.

T. Rex, “20th Century Boy” — Classic rock is my favorite type of music to listen to in a car. It’s always good for singing, and I find that it usually hits a chord with everyone in the car, no matter how disparate their musical tastes. T. Rex is probably best known for “Get it On,” but I’ve always preferred this track. It has such a nice groove to it.

Kelly Clarkson, “Since U Been Gone” — I’m pulling a 180 here for a song that AC and I both wanted to use in our mix. We had a particularly memorable drive over the Golden Gate Bridge years ago with this song playing on max. The top of our rented convertible was down, and I think everyone driving by had a good laugh at us singing along. Best moment? That same day a bunch of kids in Hayes Valley yelled at us, “Going to Marin?” as we drove by. I’ve never felt more embarrassed, lame and yuppy in my life. That pretty much ended my desire to rent a convertible on a trip again.

CLICK HERE for 8 more songs (and AC’s road trip mixes) after the jump!

Led Zeppelin, “Immigrant Song” — The opening wails alone are impossible NOT to sing along. The second I hear this, no matter where I am, I feel the urge to sing along out loud. I was so excited to do this at karaoke the other night, but it didn’t go over so well with my fellow karaoke-ers. I’m still bummed. But I can feel a drive ahead of me soon with this blaring.

Phish, “You Enjoy Myself” — There are so many things I liked about picking this song. First, it reminded me of when I was obsessed with making my own belts out of hemp in college, only to find out I was allergic to hemp. My stomach kept breaking out in itchy hives until I put two and two together. I was a seriously bad hippy. Looking for this song on YouTube also made me laugh because it’s impossible to get most live Phish songs under the ten-minute YouTube limit. And while my Phish days are behind me now, this song will always remind me of road trips during college and singing along with friends while racing down the highways between DC and Williamsburg, Virginia.

AARON’S MIX (Written in his words)

Beastie Boys, “Super Disco Breakin'” — I think I got a copy of Licensed to Ill on cassette when I was in the fourth grade, and my mind was blown to the point where there was no going back. In high school, when I started driving, I was still listening to them and rapping along with my friends, looking like a complete goof and loving it. They have a new album coming out in a few weeks, and you’d better believe I’ll be getting that one, too.

Wolfmother, “White Feather” — One situation that used to come up for me a lot with car playlists was that people only wanted to hear songs they knew, and I was always trying to play them songs that I thought they SHOULD know. So it was a constant battle. This would be one of those songs. Wolfmother sounds like Led Zeppelin meets Black Sabbath; they have lots of hit songs in movies and commercials, and yet most people I meet have never heard of them (even though they actually know some of their songs). It’s a shame. Their second album was just as good as their first, and this was my favorite track from it.

Superchunk, “Precision Auto” — I take it as a personal point of pride that I’ve finally brought Grace on to team Superchunk. And if you accept the premise that it’s a shame that more people haven’t heard of Wolfmother, it’s an outright injustice that Superchunk is not a household name. In any case, here’s a great driving song with a sentiment I think we can all relate to: “Do not pass me . . . just to slow down!”

The Decemberists (feat. Gillian Welch), “Down by the Water” — Here’s a great indie band that it’s nice to see finally getting their due. This album takes a country music turn, but it’s a sound that I think fits them well. Plus they have Gillian Welch on the song, which helps tremendously. A fun, poppy track for the car.

Fall Out Boy, “She’s My Winona” — Here’s the opposite of an indie band, and one I’m pretty sure most of my friends think I should be completely ashamed to love as much as I do. But I totally love them, and I’m really sad that they broke up. Pete Wentz may be a complete douche, but he’s an amazing songwriter, and whoever that guy is who sings for them has an amazing voice, and I really hope they get back together. I also think people need to lighten up and admit that a song is good when they hear it. This one is sort of a great “Pepsi Challenge” song, because I always play this album in the car, people love it and then they ask, “Who’s this?” When I tell them who it is, they moan and groan and don’t want to admit that they were liking it before. FESS UP PEOPLE!!!

  1. Megan says:

    My all-time ultimate road trip song is “Banditos” by the Refreshments.

  2. Lisa says:

    I also love the different mixes of music that you listen to. Great posts. Road trip I love listening to Wyclef Jean – Carnival. Just seems to have the right beat and a perfect lets get going rhythm!

  3. Jen says:

    Thanks for sharing this list – it’s made me get all wanderlusty. Now, thinking of making my own playlist for the next road trip :)

  4. OOOHHH! I love this post, you’ve hit a nerve~

    I must say I completely enjoy seeing other folks’ choices, particularly Karena (of Magic Jelly), wild! And Grace, you have picked some of my all-time favourites as well (Neil Young, T-‘Rex 20th Century Boy’). I just traded CDs with my wonderful penpal Tina, and here’s some of what I put in hers:

    -‘Always in my Heart’, Bent

    -‘Papa don’t take no Mess’, James Brown

    -‘Jumbo’, Underworld

    -‘So Easy’, Royksopp

    -‘Summer Breeze’, Jordan Carrier

    -‘Hang Loose’, People Under the Stairs

    And a few more I would add…

    -‘Tangerine’, Led Zeppelin

    -‘This Flight Tonight’, Nazareth

    -‘Mother’, Danzig

    Man…..I could go on….maybe you’ve ignited the genesis of another Road Album here, hehe….

    Heidi

  5. DesignerKim says:

    Wolfmother!! Have to share a link to my fave Wolfmother song:

    Wolfmother – Vagabond
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObFknA9M0Hw

    ’cause I’ll tell you everything about living free…’

  6. melanie says:

    Holiday Road by Lindsey Buckingham- from the Nation Lampoon movies…wish I was in a car every time I hear it…

  7. Vanessa says:

    Neil Young and Zeppelin = amazing!

    a great roadtrip song is Soul Meets Body by Death Cab for Cutie

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uizQVriWp8M

  8. MissHeliotrope says:

    Anything by the great Paul Kelly, but especially ‘Love never runs on time’, what with it starting with a road trip…

  9. Amalia says:

    Ventura Highway – America. Best.Road trip song. Ever.

    Scar Tissue – Red Hot Chili Peppers

    Sweet Disposition – Temper Trap

    Bernard Fanning’s Tea & Sympathy – the whole album

    Anything by Powderfinger

    Anything by Jack Johnson

  10. Kristin says:

    Wilco….Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Black Keys… Attack and Release, The Heavy… Great Vengeance and Furious Fire.

  11. Michelle says:

    So I read this last week, and I’m still annoyed about anyone in Hayes Valley trying to call you out for being yuppie – not ok! I love Hayes Valley, but come on…it’s yuppie! You are not lame and those kids are dumb. So there.

  12. Holiday Road is a funny one….Nothing better than a vision of a CHEVY CHASE vacation. Still remember a time when we were all {virtually} characters in a VACATION movie- brother Rusty {and all} singin’ silly songs……Love a little Fleetwood Mac, love some Beatles, maybe some old school eighties music we used to dance on the tables to :-) I always have Mr Jones on every mix tape i’ve ever made so I think it’s interesting that pick showed up here!

    Happy Summer travels~ may all your roadtrips be safe and filled with good tunes!

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