Hopefully you have at least one road trip planned for the summer. And whether you’re driving in a Toyota Prius or a ’64 Chevy Impala, a solid soundtrack is a must. It’s an important list, one that requires the requisite consideration to match the tempo of the ride and the terrain of the pavement.
We take our road trip playlists seriously. After all, conversation with your fellow riders can only last so long.
So as a public service, we’ve pinpointed five road trip songs that will get your list started on the right foot, errr… wheel.
“Drive My Car” – The Beatles
Coming off the British version of1965’s Rubber Soul, the story goes that “Drive My Car” grew from the Beatles’ first recording session that extended past midnight, as Paul McCartney and George Harrison put together the basic rhythm.
“Drive My Car” features a thumping bottom end that is great for rolling down the windows and revving the engine, with an R&B feel that calls to mind the bass-heavy tracks that came out of Memphis’s Stax Records.
“Beep, Beep! Beep, Beep! Yeah!” indeed.
“Rebel Rouser” – Duane Eddy
The king of twang could have several entries on our playlist, with his signature guitar sound shining so bright on every track he released. But Eddy’s “Rebel Rouser” has a rambling groove that is well-suited to flat country roads. The instrumental hit is accentuated with bleats from a saxophone as it winds down, adding a car chase feel to the tune.
But don’t accelerate too fast. It’s best to just take in the scenery when Eddy is doing his thing.
Highway to Hell – AC/DC
Written by brothers Angus and Malcolm Young and the late Bon Scott, “Highway to Hell” is a paean to the rigors of touring and life on the road with “no stop signs/speed limit.”
The riff is instantly recognizable and makes you want to put the pedal to the metal, as it sears through the brain and has the ability to instantly conjure an adrenaline rush. Now, this fact might also make the song a dangerous one to drive with, but sometimes you need to drive fast and take chances.
Just watch out for the speed traps.
“Tush” – ZZ Top
Whether you’re going to Dallas, Texas, or Hollywood, “Tush” fits the bill. The opening riff immediately commands the listener to pull on their sunglasses and secure their cowboy hat. The original recording was found on Fandango and was ZZ Top’s first Top 20 single, with good reason.
Billy Gibbons takes two turns with searing slide guitar solos, and Dusty Hill’s strong bassline rumbles just as much as the engine. The Texas trio’s hit is definitely at home when traversing the Lone Star State, but there is certainly room for a lot of “Tush” on the Sunset Strip.
“Long May You Run” – Neil Young
“Long May You Run” is an homage to Young’s beloved first car, a hearse that was known as “Mort.” Seriously.
But this hearse has a lot of historical significance. It was the vehicle that carted Young and his original band around Canada. It broke down in the early 1960s in Blind River, Ont., but that spawned Mort’s successor, another hearse named “Mort Two” which ended up carrying him from Toronto to Los Angeles. There, Young met Stephen Stills and eventually formed Buffalo Springfield.
So long may you run, Mort, in that scrapyard in the sky. We’ll appreciate the song you inspired with our wheels firmly on the pavement.