Road trips are great. Whether you’re taking your kids to a zoo, or maybe you’re moving to another state, or you’re just driving through the country with no destination in mind, it gives you a chance to relax and reflect, and to bond with your family. You’re in a car and suddenly there’s no responsibilities, nothing you have to take care of, just sit, and keep your foot on the gas, your hands on the wheel, and your eyes on the road. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t have time to do the dishes before you left, or pick up the toys that the kids said they’d pick up when they took them out, but didn’t. Now there’s nothing stopping you from having a real conversation with your wife, or girlfriend, or husband, or boyfriend, and you can reconnect with them.
When I was young, my father took my brother and I on road trips in the country in his cherry-red 1985 BMW 535i, with a sun roof and leather seats (those things weren’t so great in the summer if you were wearing shorts). I remember being bored out of my mind, looking at LEGO catalogs and daydreaming about how fun it would be to play with them, and arguing with my brother. I didn’t appreciate just being able to sit and look out the window at the farms we drove by, and all the animals on them, or how the forests we drove through looked like something from a fantasy movie, or how in the fall the sun shone through the leaves and made them glow red and orange and yellow. I didn’t appreciate it because I was a kid and just wanted to do something. But now as an adult, I realize some times it’s nice to just not do something for a while. So whether you’re taking your kids to summer camp, or you’re trying to get lost in the country, or just going on a grocery run, here are some of my favorite oldies to listen to while I let the world and all its worries slip away for a while.
Let’s start off with Night Moves, by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band. This is, in my opinion, the perfect song to begin your road trip. Whether you’re pulling out of your driveway, off on your own adventure, or you’ve just caught your brother with a waitress in the back of your black 1967 Chevrolet Impala, this song’s soft, meloncholic peacefulness is the best way to start your drive.
You can’t have an oldies road trip playlist without Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver. I could probably just say it’s a John Denver song and you’d think “It’s totally that Country Roads song.” Let the soft plucks of the guitar accompany you down the highway while you cruise along with the windows down and the wind blowing through your hair. Home is where your heart is, and I hope you’re following your heart wherever you’re going.
Let’s kick things up a little bit with Already Gone by the Eagles. Leave your troubles in the rearview mirror while you fly past mile marker after mile marker, the music accompanied by the satisfying roar of the engine, and the whisper of the other cars as you shoot past them. You’ve got places to be, and they aren’t behind you.
If you’ve been alive for more than a decade, you’ve most likely heard Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf, a song often used for movies when the main characters hop on their motorcycle or jump in the driver seat of their classic car, flying down the road in the pursuit of freedom, and that’s what this song encapsulates. Freedom.
Imagine twisting mountain roads, your tires hugging the lines painted on the road as you fly past rocks and plants with a canopy of trees above you, your engine roaring as you climb higher with Up Around the Bend by Creedence Clearwater Revival guiding you along your journey.
This next song is called Slow Ride by Foghat, but whether you’re cruising through town or flying down the highway at 60 miles per hour, this song sounds like it was made for driving.
This next song is just plain fun, its energy and fast-paced lyrics and beat perfectly balanced with the occasional pause in the song before the words “I said are you gonna be my girl before the beat starts up again. By this point you’ve probably guessed, it’s Are you Gonna Be My Girl by Jet.
Rebellion. The need to shape reality into what you want it to be. These are things we’ve all felt at some point in our lives, to answer to no one, and forge your own path. Some of us still feel this at times, some more often than others. This next song is for all ages, no matter what the name implies. It’s Youth Gone Wild by Skid Row.
No matter what summer this song makes you think of, I guarantee it will make you remember times long past. This next one is Summer of ’69 by Bryan Adams.
This next song is America. Almost everyone has heard it across the country. Maybe you don’t think of this exact state when you hear it, but even so this song is about going home. It’s perfect for cruising along, every mile marker signaling you’re getting closer to your home, wherever you choose that to be. It’s Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd (and it’s literally one of my coworker’s ringtones).
This next song is kind of an odd one, but it’s another one that’s perfect for cruising down the highway. You may not know the words, but it’s still perfect for nodding your head or tapping your foot while you listen (just hit cruise control first or you’ll give your passengers whiplash). It’s Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf.
This is another fun one, and if you’ve got the car for it, as the song goes, “put it in overdrive!” This is Rock N Roll Train by AC/DC.
Alright, this is an oldie. Well, it’s an oldie where I come from. This next one is Johnny B. Goode by Marty McFly. Just kidding, it’s by Chuck Berry.
This song is literally about being on the road, but hopefully it won’t be for 40 days. This one is called We’re an American Band by Grand Funk Railroad.
If your companion is a woman (from America), don’t let her read into this one too much while you belt it out, because it’s a fun song to sing. It’s American Woman by Lenny Kravitz.
This is another good one to sing, turn it up and have some fun with this fast-paced beat. It’s called What I Like About You by The Romantics.
Fans of the original Footloose (yeah, there was a remake…) with Kevin Bacon will know this one. It’s called Hurts So Good by John Mellencamp.
Things have been winding down a little bit, so let’s kick it back into gear. I’d say let your hair down, but if you’re going the right speed, your hair’s gonna be behind you. This one is Nothin’ But a Good Time by Poison.
Even if you don’t see a girl (my Lord) in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at you, this is still another great one for rolling down the highway. This one is Take It Easy by Eagles.
Whether you’re a ramblin’ man or a ramblin’ woman, you can’t hear this song without picturing your favorite car rolling down the road. It’s Ramblin’ Man by The Allman Brothers Band.
The sun is setting, your engine’s roaring, maybe you’ve just fueled up one last time and you’re peeling out of the gas station, your tires smoking and singing to you while You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC blares from your stereo.
Hit cruise control and tone things down one last time with some quiet contemplation from Can’t You See by The Marshall Tucker Band. This song is all about getting out, moving on, and heading down the road. Maybe you don’t know where you’re going, and maybe you don’t care, as long as it’s not where you were.
Fiery skies of purple, orange, and blue fill your windshield, and dreams of adventure fill your head and heart. This one is More Than a Feeling by Boston.
Put your foot to the floor, and crank the volume through the roof. This one is Hair Of The Dog by Nazareth. It’s a race to the finish line, even if you’re the only one who knows it.
Your exit’s coming up fast, and it’s being accompanied by The Boys are Back in Town by Thin Lizzy. This is the last one on the list, and it’s perfect for when you’re coming off that last off-ramp, pulling up to the light and turning on to the streets, your engine rumbling as you roll into town.