Some things are just better together. Peanut butter and jelly. Bubbles and baths. Bubbles, baths, and Megan Fox. Cars and music.
…and Megan Fox.
The point is one can be enjoyed without the other – but when combined, we achieve nirvana. There’s something about the resonance of a bass guitar and the hum of a powerful engine that stirs the soul. The right song can amplify any drive – and the right car can supercharge any melody. There’s at least one tune perfect for any occasion or trip; no matter where you’re going, the journey is always better with a soundtrack. Music video and movie producers have known this for years, which is why you’ll find cars featured prominently in videos, and music setting the scene during a climactic chase.
We’ve come up with 30 of our favorite driving songs, and broken them down based on mood and pace. There are road trip ballads, weekend cruising anthems, go-to tunes for your favorite back road, and symphonies that make it almost impossible to stay under the posted speed limit! Some of these you’ll recognize instantly, while others you may be unfamiliar with. Some have become intertwined with certain vehicles thanks to a popular movie or commercial. Others just make you want to crank up your ride and DRIVE!
These are our picks – but the most important thing to remember is that the only thing that matters in a perfect driving song…is how it makes you feel behind the wheel.
Road Trip Picks
Dropkick Murphys – I’m Shipping Up To Boston
There’s no better song that fits the electric tension in the air as you set off on an epic road trip to your Alma Mater’s football stadium with a bunch of your college buddies and that one guy from the office you felt obligated to invite because he graduated a couple years after you!
The tempo is immediately upbeat. The lyrics encourage a yelling sing-along; and it lasts about as long as your initial excitement; which wears off as soon as you realize you’ve got a 14-hour drive ahead of you, during which your friends will pass out, leaving you to make small talk with office guy that you’ve never uttered more than 5 words at a time to before.
Fastball – The Way
The repeated refrain and melody of this 1998 hit mimics the seemingly endless stretches of highway that cover much of the flyover states. It’s the same thing over and over again, yet it remains pleasant and relaxing. The imagery of long shadows and an aimless journey undertaken by the two protagonists provides a backdrop for you, your lady, and your car, as you cruise west, chasing the sun.
Incubus – Drive
It’s alright to admit it – we all sing in the car. Take the most grizzled, bearded, flannel-wearing lumberjack of a man you know, hide a camera in his truck, and send him on a cross-country road trip with Cher’s greatest hits, and stream it live on the internet.
Instant comedy gold.
The deliberate, plodding pace of the song urges you to set the cruise control just under the speed limit; while the casual but powerful delivery of the lyrics by Brandon Boyd makes Drive infectious and impossible not to “Doo-di-dooooo, Di-doo-dooooo” along to by it’s end.
Rascal Flatts – Life Is A Highway
Look, anything is better than hearing your little hellspawns inquire as to your current proximity to your ultimate destination over and over. You’re much better off throwing this on repeat – they’ll recognize it from Cars, and you’ll appreciate day-dreaming about frosting your hair blonde and becoming the fourth member of Rascall Flatts, which would then allow you to ditch the kids and travel the country in a giant tour bus filled with cold beer and – oh, look at that, you’ve gone a whole tenth of a mile before being asked whether we’re there yet.
The Allman Brothers Band – Ramblin’ Man
I-10 is one of this country’s main automotive veins. It traverses the Deep South, running from Jacksonville out to Los Angeles. A little known fact about this particular highway – if you aren’t playing this song when driving along the section that runs through Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, you’re likely to be pulled over and cited for being a “Dadgum Yank.” Luckily, it’s a classic, so this isn’t too hard to avoid.
The Animals – The House of the Rising Sun
On every road trip, you’ll be faced at least once with an all-night drive – whether it be the result of being behind schedule, or being chased out of town by the locals after you attempt to order a Frappuccino at the local watering hole. Regardless, you’ll be on the road at that perfect hour just before dawn, where everything around you is quiet and still. A melancholy but hopeful feeling will overcome you as daylight breaks, bathing the road in a deep purple hue.
This song is that feeling. Eric Burdon’s voice isn’t actually human; it’s just the sound of molasses being slowly poured over a microphone. He encourages you to keep going, even when you get the sense your journey may end in sorrow…you’d better pull over somewhere and get a Frappuccino on the way.