Music/Popular Culture

S&R asks: What's your favorite driving music?

The season of road trips or just rolling the windows down and burning prehistoric plant matter of the fun of it is upon us. Very few of people own vehicles with engine notes so beautiful that it’s not worth sullying the growl (or whine for those with forced induction) of the engine with music. For the rest of us, music goes with driving like jelly goes with peanut butter.

For me, there’s not much better than spinning off a great many summer miles to the accompaniment of a late ’70’s Dead show…and for me, everything is a great many miles away.

But Dead shows aren’t for driving. If, for example, one plans to cover the 159 miles between Marquette and St. Ignace in two hours or less there is only one choice:

Clutch. Any Clutch will do, but “Live in Flint” is my first choice…pure rock fury from the opening note to “Thank you and good night”.

This is music to downshift and stab the long, skinny pedal to:

Even the older, wiser, calmer Clutch still brings it with John Lee Hooker’s left foot approved rock:

And just ’cause you’ve got gray in your beard doesn’t mean you won’t still bring the thunder:

If all that wasn’t enough, it’s hard to argue with lyrics like this for rollin’ down the highway with a vengeance, eh?

When I talk talk on the C.B. yeah I scare men.
My my tire knockers rock the parking lot quite a lot yeah.
Rolled along 40 and roared down 10,
Released my cargo around the Big Bend.
I always take my time,
A maverick moonminer sipping sunshine.
Hauled ass to Memphis, I spoke to the Pharoah.
He told me his dreams, I counted the sparrows.
Steve McQueen’s got nothing on me,
I take you back west of Pleiades.

If you want someone to talk to,
Well I’m your man.
I’ve seen it all,
And I know where you live.

High time honey, hell yeah, watcha know, I’m back again, yeah.
Roll Roll down highways with a vengeance, yeah.
I never ever sweated for the fortune and fame game.
Nevertheless, I’m flying down the left lane.
I always pay my dues,
So sit your ass down, and I’ll show you how they used to. ~from “The House that Peterbilt”

Anyway, enough about me. What’s your favorite driving music?

14 replies »

  1. I have to be honest, I’m not sure there’s ever been a better put-the-hammer-down album than Molly Hatchet’s FLIRTIN’ WITH DISASTER.

  2. Classic rock for me: Eagles, Simon and Garfunkel. Plus newer stuff like Indigo Girls.

    That said, our last road trip we heard a lot of Raffi and Mary Poppins. Thank God my car stereo has the fade function.

  3. At one point I idly said “This is good driving music” on some road trip growing up. For years afterward my family would randomly ask me “is this good driving music” while we were riding around listening to the radio. So any music that is good while I’m driving and that question isn’t asked is good driving music.

    More specifically, I think of Radar Love by Golden Earring and The Letter by the Box Tops – anything about going back to the one you love would do it for me.

  4. I think Magic Bus by The Who is the ultimate song to begin a road trip. It just gets me in the groove for rolling down the highway.

  5. My 10-year-old and I have a long tradition of rolling down the windows and cranking up the stereo for Sir Mick and Friends and “It’s Only Rock and Roll” (but hey, we like it, we like it, yes we do)….

  6. One autumn morning while driving down the mountains near Knoxville, the perfect match of music for the road came on….I forget the exact music, but it was something classical with a very, very fast tempo. The changing color of the trees, the music, the giant mountain I was speeding down….awesome.

    I figured, hey if I crash, at least they’ll find me with some fancy music on my radio.

    Usually, I like something familiar that I can sing to. Not that I’m a good singer. But, whatever.

  7. Allman Brothers – Live at the Fillmore East can get you through a good long stretch of Highway

    • Anything with a good beat that helps me stay awake. That means I either like it so much that I just have to sing along or at least want to tap my fingers along to the beat. Those are much the same requirements as what I have for my work music, except I can listen to things at work via Pandora or my iPod that is totally not appropriate for my kids or that make my wife cringe.

  8. I’m the musical Magpie–I have several mp3 CDs with all genres on them. It can be a little jarring to go from Bach to the Ramones, but it’s never boring.

    • There’s precious little classical that has enough going on to keep me awake along I-80 in Utah and Nevada. Holst’s Jupiter and Mars might be OK, some of Tchaikovsky’s work, a decent amount of Wagner, some Copeland, and a decent amount of PDQ Bach, but that’s really about it. Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and pretty much anything Italian all run the risk of putting me to sleep while driving. It’s better to just not run the risk and instead load up on Metallica, VNV Nation, Voltaire’s funny and/or weirder stuff, Depeche Mode, and the 80’s music I used to sing to in my car in high school.