10 Songs for Driving Alone Through the Country
Before you even pack your bags for a long journey on the road, you first make the playlist that will carry you to your final destination. The only reason we even kept that stack of blank CDs around is to burn car-tune mixes at a moment's notice, especially for those longer hauls all by our lonesome. Every roadtrip calls for a soundtrack, but none more than a solo journey through the great wide open. When you've got no radio reception, backseat drivers or place you need to be, the songs on our latest Super Specific Weekly Playlist will keep you alert (and keep you company) as the fields pass by.
The first sight of the open road is exhilarating, and few people can emulate that the way David Byrne does when he belts out, "Takin' that ride to nowhere / We'll take that ride." You may end up with a flat tire or lose your GPS satellite connection, but the beginning of the trip has a burst of adventure and mystery, even when you do know where you're going.
Detachment on the road is key to a successful roadtrip, and nothing will make you feel freer than telling the world that you not only have to ramble, but that you were born to ramble. Nashville today, New Orleans tomorrow -- it's just part of the lifestyle. But, really, what else would you expect with a gambler father and a mother who gives birth in the back of a Greyhound?
If you happen to be en route to see that special someone, this cover of the Richard Berry song will rev you up for whatever the road has to offer. The Keys' blues-rock take on the 1959 classic is just what you'll need to bait you through to the end of your trip, all with the reward of seeing that insanely satisfying guy or gal already waiting for you.
Driving is used as a symbol of freedom once again when Robert Pollard asks, "Oh, why don't you just drive away?" Getting behind the wheel in the driver's seat, both literally and figuratively, forces you to choose direction, even when it's scary and liberating. With equal parts motivation and encouragement, this song is the "Just Do It" of roadtrip songs.
When a song starts with "Watching the stretch of road / Miles of light explode," you don't even need to be in a car to see the sun shining on the horizon framed by pasture. Few travelers know life on the road better than My Morning Jacket, who demonstrate here that middle-of-nowhere contentment with every bending note of the steel guitar. These seasoned nomads even give us some expert advice on being weary of cheap talk on the road, no matter how alluring those dark and lonely pit stops may be.
Dave Grohl's ode to cows is never more fitting than when you are surrounded by them. The Virginia-via-Ohio native could probably tell you firsthand just how underappreciated the bovine family is, even if the song is actually just a thinly-veiled reference to those greedy sheep.
For some, seeing America in a drunken stupor is the only way to see these fine states, or at least Florida. Much like the endless highway you may be rolling down, the song tells of a never-ending journey home, albeit a reckless one, with a case of vodka in tow. But even if you reach your final destination, you probably won't have half the stories that this guy has.
If you loathe riding on the passenger side as much as Jeff Tweedy does, then this Wilco song is for you. Tweedy's apprehension may stem from getting his license suspended in the apparent DUI he sings about, but, luckily for you, you don't have to worry about relying on other people, or even about chauffeuring around other people. This twangy number serves as a reminder to be thankful that you are not only a self-reliant commuter, but that you are also (hopefully) street-legal.
Every long drives reaches an inevitable peak. You may have started the trip feeling eager and ready for anything, but the loneliness sets in, and suddenly you're questioning everything you've ever known. The appropriately named Cars have the even more appropriately named 'Drive' for this very moment. Even though you're behind the wheel, you still find yourself wondering, "Who IS going to drive me home tonight?" Suddenly, the fields become a desert and you just want the drive to end.
You may want to avoid excessively sleepy songs toward the end of your journey, but one easing lullaby will surely take the edge off once your destination is in sight. Most of Woods' songs work as gentle nighttime medelies, but this extra-calming selection about a "lonely siren song" will help you drift right into slumber, so long as you don't drift off the road first.