PLAYLIST: Top 10 songs for the open road


Matthew Montgomery, 2009

Back in September 2009, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in my car while traveling across the western half of the United States. During this time I discovered that when speeding down a side road in Iowa, not all songs were created equal. Here is a list, in no particular order, of the 10 best songs for driving to.

1. The All New Adventures of Us – “Firetruck”

This song is wonderful to say the least. It meets all the requirements to be a good driving song: sonic guitars, blasting horns, enough changes to keep you interested and of course, a beat you can tap your gas pedal too. The song speaks of never missing another adventure, and that really embodies what this article is about: adventures.

2. The Beatles – “Two of Us”
“Two of Us” is one of those jangly guitar songs you just can’t do without on a good drive. It’s stood the test of time and after nearly 40 years it is just as valid as it was on its release. The song itself induces images of driving on a winding backroad with the windows down and the sun shining.


3. Cake – “Shadow Stabbing”
With equal parts heavy bass, clean drums, and smooth vocals, there was no way I could leave this off the list. It’s the kind of song that makes you turn the stereo up and tap your steering wheel. Listening to this song generally leads to everyone in the car dancing, singing and having an all around good time.

4. Grizzly Bear – “Two Weeks”
The song opens with staccato piano with bass and drums accenting it. This song made the list more for the musical content than anything else. Something about the flow of this song lends itself to the idea of driving away and letting go. It’s a wonderful piece and a great way to start a long drive. Just turn this on and pull out of your driveway; you’re good to go.

5. Hot Hot Heat – “Middle of Nowhere”
“Middle of Nowhere” is another foot tapping tune with more “windows down” potential than your run-of-the-mill song. It speaks of heading out to the middle of nowhere, not because you have to, but because you can. The lyrics are intensely catchy and bring a level of intensity to the list we haven’t had so far.

6. Ben Kweller – “I Gotta Move”
“I gotta move while the streets ahead are sunny” is the first thing you hear out of this song. It continues to send a none to subtle message that he has outgrown his small town home and needs to get out and get his life on track. Complete with crunchy guitars, tambourine and a classic rock and roll guitar solo, you can’t go wrong with this song when speeding down the interstate.

7. The Lodger – “The Good Old Days”
Twinkling guitars and dance-beat drums slam into the list with no remorse. The bass has a endearingly thin yet full tone and reminds of 1960s pop songs. This is one of those songs that makes you want to dance in your seat. The message of the song is essentially that things have been pretty terrible for a while, but they’re finally starting to look up and perhaps these could be the good old days everyone is always talking about. Why would you not want to hear that as your driving on the open road?

8. Nada Surf – “I Like What You Say”
This song comes from Nada Surf’s 2008 album, Lucky. This is the album that took Nada Surf from being a mediocre alternative rock group to a wonderful pop outfit. Sweet vocal harmonies dominate this track along with clean electric guitars strummed throughout. The drums make this another hit when it comes to the steering wheel tapping, windows down crowd.

9. This Will Destroy You – “Quiet”
“Quiet” is the first song on this list with no vocals. The song begins with echoing guitars, strong chords on the piano and a persistent beat on the drums. After a while, it breaks down into a giant chorus of distorted guitars and cymbal heavy drumming. A solid post-rock track is a must on every long drive and it doesn’t get much better than this.

10. Weezer – “Holiday”
There was no way I could complete this list without this song. It was hard enough to narrow it down to only one Weezer track. A classic power pop track with sonic guitars and aggressive drums, there is no song on this list that matches the raw emotion and power of this song. Great songwriting and intensity guarantees it a spot on any playlist for the open road. However, when listening to this song on the interstate, be careful. It may lead to excessive speed, and from personal experience, the authorities don’t take “I was listening to Weezer” as a valid excuse.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.