10 February 2012

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10 Great Classic Songs For Road Trips

All the best road trips are synonymous with music, specifically musical mixes. MP3 players may have replaced mixed tapes or even mixed CDs, but still nothing rivals the road trip mixes and long distance journeys they once inspired. If you’ve ever seen a Cameron Crowe film, you know the power of well selected music to pull you through personal stories and launch you into a life changing, coming of age adventure. It saddens me that in some ways we may have moved beyond the generation of mixed tapes. Perhaps playlists have replaced this but these are changeable, constantly editable. There’s nothing quite like the nostalgic feeling of putting in an old mixed tape or CD and hearing the music from your past wash over you as you pull out onto the highway and watch the roads and scenery flow by.

Road Trip Time Lapse
Road Trip Time Lapse (Photo credit: Neil Dorgan)
All the best road trips are synonymous with music, specifically musical mixes. MP3 players may have replaced mixed tapes or even mixed CDs, but still nothing rivals the road trip mixes and long distance journeys they once inspired.

If you’ve ever seen a Cameron Crowe film, you know the power of well selected music to pull you through personal stories and launch you into a life changing, coming of age adventure. It saddens me that in some ways we may have moved beyond the generation of mixed tapes. Perhaps playlists have replaced this but these are changeable, constantly editable. There’s nothing quite like the nostalgic feeling of putting in an old mixed tape or CD and hearing the music from your past wash over you as you pull out onto the highway and watch the roads and scenery flow by.

Road trips are not the same without some good mixes. Get thyself a great car or van and gather your favourite tunes to create the best travelling experience the road can offer.

Here are a few of the best songs for road trips, long drives, or other adventures, as discovered through working as part of a travelling theatre group, and enjoying many cross country road adventures:


10. The Who – Sparks



Used in many films but most notably, Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous.” I can still see the shot of the record spinning as the song kicks in. This is a great song for pulling the car away from your home and starting off your journey. Put this in and go go go go… if it’s sunny and warm, roll down your windows and let the road embrace you.

9. Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi



I remember listening to this song on a road trip, in a van, through Mexico, down to the Baja Peninsula. There was nothing ahead of us but desert and road as we drove and drove right into the sunset. But this song is also great for that first get-away, when you’re exiting the city and driving off onto wilder paths.

8. U2 – Where the Streets Have No Name


When on the theatre tour, this was one of the songs we could all connect with. This got quite a lot of airtime, especially when driving the Rocky Mountains and the plains of Alberta.

7. Bedouin Soundclash – When the Night Hears My Song


This one was an instant classic, embodying the free-spirit and feeling of warm summer nights on the road, or sat outside under the stars. This is for when you’ve been driving a few miles and need to chill out and take a break by the side of the road for a drink and a picnic or for when you’re pulling back onto the road after a pit-stop.

6. Jeff Buckley - Grace


Probably one of the best songs ever produced. This song still gives me chills. It also reminds me of road trips in southern California. Pulling away from San Diego and heading back to Los Angeles after a day of festivals, beaches, and good food. This song lifts your soul and sends you floating forward as you return to the city with your hair and skin smelling like salt and sun. Brilliant.

5. Simon & Garfunkel - America


As someone born and raised in North America, this song reaches into my soul and gives it a squeeze every time I hear even the first couple bars. It’s a song that makes you feel free, full of longing and hope all at once. Perfect for road trips across America, whether the Canadian part of the US part.

4. Led Zeppelin – Ramble On


Another track that has stayed with me for decades, though this one most reminds me of a trip from Scotland to England. Driving through the rolling highlands hills in a van listening to this song made me reflect on great stories and future adventures: a truly great track.

3. Tom Petty - Free Fallin’


This has to be one of my all time favourite tracks. I can sing every single line and it still makes me feel warm inside. When I lived in Los Angeles I would sing this song every time we drove down Ventura Boulevard. Another classic track, this makes for a great driving tune and also a great sing-along song when you’ve been driving a while!

2. Gomez – How We Operate


This song was only recently brought to my attention. It’s a great track, full of intrigue and incredibly inspiring. When I hear this song I think of quiet drives on empty roads with nothing but a few scattered city lights and my headlights to guide me forward. It is full of mystery and a dreamy sense of movement. Love it.

1.  CCR – Up Around the Bend


I don’t think I could mention a road trip mix without including this song. It may be dated, like some of the others on this list, but it continues to hold its own and is a truly great song to drive to.

There are many more songs that could be on this list. Narrowing it down to just 10 songs is tough!

So what are you waiting for? Get mixing! And let me know your favourite songs. I’d love some suggestions.