10 Great Road Trip Songs

No road trip is complete without a solid playlist of songs that embody the spirit of travelling the open road with your sunglasses on, the windows down and wind in your hair. Good road trip songs not only enhance the journey; they also help get you through those never-ending stretches of unchanging road. (I’m looking at you, North Dakota.) I’ve been listening to some great music on my travels around the US. Here are some songs that make me push the pedal to the metal:

1. Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads (every time I hear this song I reach for the car keys)

2. The Road to Hell – Chris Rea (the full version is genius, it really kicks in about 2.50)

3. Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash (this song screams Wanderlust)

4. The Passenger – Iggy Pop  (best enjoyed when you’re on your 14th cup of coffee)

5. Freeway of Love – Aretha Franklin (Girl power in a pink cadillac)

6. Peter Gunn Theme – The Blues Brothers version (I’ve always wanted an excuse to quote the movie. “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses. Hit it.”)

7. Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane (I am willing to forgive Tom’s disastrous haircut because the song is just that good. The video also features stunning shots of badlands)

8. Route 66 – Depeche Mode (Beatmasters Mix. This is hands down the best version of Route 66 ever. You can try to convince me otherwise, but it will be in vain)

9. Life in the Fast Lane – The Eagles (Don’t even think of doing a road trip without The Eagles)

10. N17 – The Saw Doctors (The ultimate Irish road trip song – actually, the only Irish road trip song)

I had a really hard time limiting myself to just ten – I’ve got, oh, another 4,000 or so candidates for best road trip song. What about you? What are your favourite road trip songs?

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xxx Ailsa

About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - wheresmybackpack.com - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
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193 Responses to 10 Great Road Trip Songs

  1. stevegalea6953 says:

    Very cool.

  2. Nicola says:

    Thank you for the Like over at Boles Blogs – this is a great list – hard to keep it to ten ………….. I always have the Peter Gunn theme and On the Road Again – Canned Heat along with the sublime Freebird loaded. Think the Passenger is going to be addedd soon

  3. Great list. Anything from the Stones. Thanks for dropping by “Honey” again.

  4. I drive the N17 quite often, actually 🙂 IMPOSSIBLE to see the road-marker without the tune coming into my head!

    • ailsapm says:

      Haha, brilliant, heretherebespiders, and I totally agree – every time I see it written anywhere, I start humming ‘stone walls and the grass is green’ 🙂

  5. dianeklammer says:

    I love the traveling theme.I have a whole list on itunes. Two that come to mind now is Ghost Train by Marc Cohen who we just saw in concert and When It Don’t Come Easy by Patti Griffith.
    Thanks for your supportive comments, as I’m just getting the hang of blogging, Oh, and Driving Home by Cheryl Wheeler.

  6. Kavita Joshi says:

    Good list..yes its hard to choose just ten I can imagine….thanks for liking my post….keep blogging 🙂

  7. elizabethgelhard says:

    Fab list! Great fun and yes I would have all these on my list.

  8. windhound says:

    Music is Magic. You inspired a lot of great reactions – still working on my list – decisions decisions. Definitely Deep Purple, Maroon 5, Herman van Veen, Jason Mraz, Train, and the Corries are all in there so far and even I agree that is one weird mix.

    • ailsapm says:

      Oh yeah, weird and wonderful, windhound. Maroon 5 and Deep Purple in quick succession is inspired, I’m stealing it! 🙂

  9. Judy Lesko says:

    I’d add R.L. Burnside’s “Let My Baby Ride” with the bass cranked way up!

  10. thaibebop says:

    Thanks for visiting my blog, I really appreciate it. Great lists! Cheers!

  11. Nia Simone says:

    This is phenomenal. I thought I had said that before, but I don’t see my name in here, so saying it now.

    The Road to Hell blew my mind. Love it!

    By the way, these songs are great for reading thrillers to. I’m reading The Istanbul Puzzle (Laurence O’Bryan) tonight and listening to these songs. It really works, ‘specially that Road to Hell.

    Thanks for coming by my blog a lot!


    • ailsapm says:

      I’m thrilled you enjoyed Road to Hell, Nia, very happy to have introduced you to the wonderful stylings of Chris Rea. And now you’ve got me interested in reading The Istanbul Puzzle too. Thanks for the tip. 🙂

  12. Oceans by Zion, album:Hillsong
    Closer by Tegan & Sara

  13. Pingback: 10 Great Road Trip Songs | Other roads…

  14. Jim Morrison says:

    Your song list is great! I have posted a link to this web page our travel and cars blog at http://downtheroadaway.wordpress.com/

  15. Procambodia says:

    Reblogged this on Rithy Thul and commented:
    Road trip 😀

  16. Hi there. Anyone who likes Elvis is a friend of mine. Happy trails

  17. bskye7 says:

    thanks for sharing! 🙂

  18. Amazing Blog! Love US road trips! What took me on the Diners, Drives-Ins & Dives roadtrip was “Lost Highway” by Bon Jovi

    • ailsapm says:

      Oh yeah, I love that song, can’t believe I didn’t have it on my playlist. Adding it now. So glad you are enjoying my travelogue! xxx Ailsa

  19. mvschulze says:

    I left the rental car p/u at LAX a few years ago, headed for San Bernardino. First song up on the radio: “Born to be Wild,” Steppenwolf, couldn’t have been more “driven” as I passed the runways for the airport! Also, a great Allman Bros foot stomper: “One Way Out.” On the sad side, especially heading west on Rt 66 from LA, “By The Time I get To Phoenix,” Glenn Campbell. Love your blog.

    • ailsapm says:

      Sweet choice, MV – Born to be Wild is a classic, perfect for a road trip! Glad you’re enjoying the tales of my adventures. xxx Ailsa

  20. MichelleK says:

    I love DM’s Route 66.

  21. flatpeaches says:

    Reblogged this on flatpeaches and commented:
    A pretty cool playlist of travel songs!

  22. Love your idea! i will be taking a little walk from France to Spain, the “Camino de Santiago” (hay, it’s only 484-miles) I am looking for some free stuff I can download so I can dance on the way? Here is an intro to what my blog is all about…..not selling anything. http://youtu.be/nvRRZbM4sA0

    • ailsapm says:

      Hey Jim, what an adventure you have ahead of you, hope you have some comfy walking shoes. I’m hoping to do the Camino de Santiago myself sometime soon. I love your video, I couldn’t agree more, it’s all about the journey. xxx

  23. kahht says:

    I love making playlists for my car trips. I love your classic selections too! One song that really gets me going is “Twist The Knife” by Evil Nine:

    In the same vein “Sixteen Saltines” by Jack White has a great drive to it, although I don’t think he actually mentions driving at all:

    For something slower and very driving themed I love the Chromatics’ “Night Drive”:

    And I love putting me some Animal Collective and Bjork on any playlist for a road trip. I do a lot of trips through the mountains and those artists add such a beautiful haunted feel to the trip.

    What a great post! I love playlists.

  24. cariwiese says:

    Thank you so much for liking my blog post! This is a great list, definitely some new additions for my next road trip!

  25. vgonis says:

    Lovely list! Dozen of songs to chose from, as you say. Telegraph road by Dire straits, or solo Knopfler’s – Speedway at Nazareth would be great additions. Some Bob Dylan and J.J. Cale songs are good company as well and the long songs from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young are quite the travelers as well!

    • ailsapm says:

      Oh I just adore Dire Straits, and Mark Knopfler in particular, Neil Young is perfect for a road trip, thanks Vassilis, I’m feeling the need to get in the car and drive with some Neil Young blasting on the stereo now! 🙂

  26. ginnietom says:

    thx voting…great blog…I like road 2 hell…

  27. peachyteachy says:

    Great post! Loved reading comments–I love me some Tangled Up In Blue on the road as well. Thanks for the like on my blog as well.

    • ailsapm says:

      I love your name, peachyteachy, it makes me smile. Great suggestion, I haven’t listened to Tangled Up In Blue in ages. 🙂

  28. tommiaw says:

    Great list! North Dakota, huh? My state of bane was always Montana (thank you Harry Potter on audio). Might have to add these songs to my ‘Royal Road Trip’ collection.

    • ailsapm says:

      Grin, I actually loved Montana with those crazy wide open skies. Harry Potter on audio might have made North Dakota go by quicker. Next time… 🙂

  29. lavenderlin says:

    Wow I’m so jealous you get to travel so much. That must be awesome. As far as road trip music, although I don’t really get to travel except like to the grocery store, I am never without music in my car or even when I’m walking. I like just about everything. Your choices were great and I would also have a hard time picking just 10.

    • ailsapm says:

      Believe me, I had a really hard time limiting it to ten, lavenderlin, I may have to do a second post at some point with the ones I had to leave off this list. 🙂

  30. Good stuff..packing my dog in the truck and headed for Yellowstone in a few months..I will have many of these songs..Mumford and Sons has some good open road songs as well.. Also cant forget Jackson Brown, Running on Empty..

    • ailsapm says:

      Oh haha, I first read “packing my dog in the trunk” – I was a bit worried! Whew. How exciting to spend a couple of months in Yellowstone, such an amazing place, oh and I love your Jackson Brown suggestion, adding to my playlist now! 🙂

  31. kahht says:

    Just found this track too:

  32. Great list! Wish I had them all on cd for my next trip!

  33. Pleun says:

    Hadn’t hear the Route 66 version before! But I love it. I will make sure I’m bringing it on the trip 😉

  34. What about “Moving Right Along” By The Muppets?! Fozzie Bear and Kermit! Every time i take a road trip i think of that song..lol

  35. themofman says:

    A lot of smashing tunes here. I hear that Iggy cowrote The Passenger with his old buddy Bowie. I’m going to have to look that up.

    • ailsapm says:

      Excellent, themofman, you just made me look that up myself – Bowie sang backup on the chorus, I never knew that! And it was loosely based on a Jim Morrison poem. I just learned something new. Thanks. 🙂

  36. Veronika says:

    Doing a road trip in May … I will certainly include these songs on my playlist 😉

  37. Cool Deb says:

    I LOVE ‘romancing the planet-a love affair with travel.’ Look forward to reading more posts!

  38. Cam says:

    Great topic. I’d have to say Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and Magnet’s “The Day We Left Town” are usually on my mind if not playing in the car when we go on a road trip 🙂

  39. odessaabroad says:

    I did a blog about this a few weeks back actually:
    Great list and thanks for visiting my page 🙂

  40. Love your work! It has been said that every writer should read 10 books for every one he/she writes. The same probably goes for blogging. I will definitely visit you often.
    Thank you for liking my blog; landscapingthesacred.wordpress.com. I hope to find you there again.

  41. loreleydeargentina says:

    Hey Ailsa! You showed up as a Joker in a cards game! I’m planning my next trip to USA in December! This comes perfect in my planning!!! Im from Argentina and I’ve benn dreaming about driving through the states and listening tracks like American Woman- Lenny Kravitz; Highway to Hell-AC/DC. I love the list and this is really helpful to creat my own playlist. Thank you!!!

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