It’s that time of year again when millions hit the road to visit family and friends, put on extra weight eating a smorgasbord of home cooking and sinful desserts, possible consumption of spirits and trying to avoid getting caught up in discussions with relatives that sit on the opposite side of politics, with sharp utensils within reach. I’m thankful that I get to stay home this year. I drive a lot as it is, so it’s nice for me to take a break from the road, but I feel for those who must travel. I’m happy to share a nice playlist for those traveling to or from their holiday destinations. It’s something to keep you awake and entertain you as you deal with all the other psychos on the road.
In the spring of 2009 my job as a delivery driver in Texas got expanded. In addition to routes that took me from Dallas to Waco, Tyler and occasionally Oklahoma City, my company decided to send me out west. For 10 years now I’ve driven to Abilene almost every Wednesday, but for the first couple years my furthest outposts were Lubbock, Midland-Odessa and San Angelo (the latter is the only one I still visit). When it started it was my first time to drive through that part of the state since a trip from Austin to Denver in 1996, and that was my first time through Abilene since I spent an entire week there in 1980 with family. In the past 10 years I’ve driven over half a million miles. Over the course of all those miles I’ve spent hours and hours listening to music. Since I drive along the same pathways week after week, music really helps me stay focused. However I often find myself forgetting where I am. “Did I already pass _____ (name of town)?” As they say, a person who enjoys their job never works a day in their life.
A key component to a nice long drive is some good music. Just about anything that I really love is good driving music to me. Back in ‘09, as I prepared for my first trip out west, I decided to try and come up with the ultimate road trip mixtape. I had no CD player in my delivery van and this was before I got my first iPod, so I carried a boombox and a box of tapes. I made a 90 minute cassette mix, made up of songs about the road, driving, and cars. There was some rock ‘n’ roll, some blues, country, punk and heavy-metal, and a few instrumentals. Some songs might have seemed odd and not necessarily about driving or the road, but more about the state of mind of traveling. I also included songs about ramblin’, restlessness, boredom and frustration; songs about where you are, where you’ve been, being nowhere and going nowhere fast. Like the man from “Wiseblood” says (see #81), “Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to were never there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it.” All in all they were just songs I really like to hear when I’m traveling.
In the October of 2015, my company flew me to Phoenix to pick up my new delivery van from our Tempe location. I spent three days driving back with nights spent in Gallup and Roswell, NM. By this point the boombox was history, my iPod Classic had been stolen, and I had moved on to my iPhone and streaming my music. I had begun creating playlists on YouTube, including recreating old mixtapes. My road mixtape was now expanded beyond 90 minutes and titled “Down The Road A Piece”. I have continually added and subtracted songs, but have tried to keep it at 100 songs, which adds up to 5 1/2 hours. I’ve listened to it while driving all over Texas, and across California, and even to Memphis (I think I had “Goin’ To Memphis” on that version). I certainly have many playlists I listen to while driving, but this one is specifically made for it. As you can see, I also take a lot of photos on the road as well.
In a sense, these are my top 100 driving songs, in no particular order. I tried make a fluid and fun mix. Of course they reflect my taste in music which is blues-based rock ‘n’ roll, in varying relatable genres. I’m sure some people enjoy listening to jazz or classical and there’s nothing wrong with that. At one point I had Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” on the playlist, and I even thought Wagner‘s ”Ride of the Valkyries” would be a funny addition. So anyway, I thought I would share some thoughts and trivial points on each of the songs on my list. So like the other man says, “Let’s hit the fuckin’ road!”
1.Highway To Hell – AC/DC… The perfect opener. A figure of speech that every touring rock ‘n’ roll band refers to. It has nothing to do with devil worshipping.
2.Lost Highway – Hank Williams… At the time that I started driving out west I was also DJ Ing on a regular basis, and this mix was a perfect representation of the stuff I would spin. In fact I would often say I was the kind of DJ that would play a AC/DC song and follow it with Hank Williams. BTW, the Lost Highway and the Highway To Hell are the same road.
3.Roadrunner – Bo Diddley… In the early boombox days out west and before the iPhone, I had a flip-phone. I recorded some video while I was passing by a highway patrolman who had pulled someone over while this Diddley tune was playing. I think I saved that video somewhere…
4.Wiley Coyote – Thee Mighty Caesars… A compliment to Bo’s tune, I listened to this song while driving a lot back when I first heard it. In fact I have a fond memory of listening to it in the car with my friend Sherry, and us discussing our new-found love for Billy Childish and the world of garage rock. It was just one of many life changing moments for both of us.
5.Highway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan… “The next time you see me comin’, you better run” When I upgraded to YouTube, there wasn’t a lot of Dylan’s original studio recordings on the platform. So I substituted it with PJ Harvey’s cover of the song. About a year ago the original was available so I had both versions, but ultimately decided to cut PJ’s. (see #92)
6.Wanted Man – Johnny Cash…
I got sidetracked in El Paso,
Stopped to get myself a map
Went the wrong way in Pleura with Juanita on my back
Went to sleep in Shreveport,
Woke up in Abilene
Wonderin’ why I’m wanted at some town half way in between
Added a year ago, I love the intro explaining how Bob Dylan came over to Johnny’s house and they wrote this song. I also love this for all the places and names Cash mentions, just like he did on a certain song 30 years later.(see #78)
7.West Texas Sound – The Deadly Snakes… Not specifically about the road but it did relate to my first trip out west, and this was the original name of the mixtape. The tape also included a live recording of the Oblivians doing this song on New Year’s Eve 1997, that I got from a VHS video. The Oblivians never recorded the song. Greg Cartwright would revive it with both the Deadly Snakes and Reigning Sound.
8.Drifting Texas Sand – Webb Pierce… Another song that had more to do with where I was than the central theme. I found myself listening to a lot of old Country and Western Swing on these trips.
9. Terraplane Blues – Robert Johnson… I first heard this song from Foghat’s version. I had to ask my dad what a Terraplane was, and he told me it was a car from the 1930’s. I’m not sure he knew what the lyrics were saying, but I figured them out years later when I started listening to Johnson. It’s the classic car as a metaphor for a woman. “Who been drivin’ my Terraplane for you since I been gone?” really means “Who’s been loving my woman…” The song is loaded with sexual innuendos. “I’m goin’ heist your hood, mama, I’m bound to check your oil”. Mr. Johnson knows his baby ain’t running like she used to.
“Now, you know the coils ain’t even buzzin’,
Little generator won’t get the spark
Motor’s in a bad condition,
You gotta have these batteries charged
But I’m cryin’, please,
Please don’t do me wrong”
And he’s not gonna give up on her.
“I’m gon’ get down in this connection, oh well, keep on tanglin’ with these wires
And when I mash down on your little starter,
Then your sparkplug will give me fire”
10. Lovin’ Machine – Soledad Brothers… Following “Terraplane Blues” is another car/woman theme. “I said oh yeah, someone’s driving my lovin’ machine.”
11. Rocket 88 – Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats… Often called the first rock ‘n’ roll record (which no one can truly determine that). Recorded in 1951 by 19 year-old Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm in Memphis, although the song was released as Brenston who sang the lead vocal. It’s also notable for being one of the first songs with a distorted guitar sound, which was due to a damaged amplifier. Classic.
12. Route 66 – The Rolling Stones… Recorded by many, but the Stones did the definitive version, IMO. (see #100)
13. Take A Ride – Splash Four… These ‘90s French garage punks take “Route 66” and filter it through Eddie Cochran and the Ramones. I had to make my own video for YouTube. All for the playlist!
14. Somethin’ Else – Eddie Cochran… More fun with girls and cars. Get a cool car, get a cute girl. That’s somethin’ else.
15. Cretin Hop – Ramones…
16. Rockaway Beach – Ramones… Must have some Ramones on tap for any road trip. It’s not a rule, it’s THE LAW! “Cretin Hop” just screams “let’s get the fuck outta here”, while “Rockaway Beach” is just fun, fun, fun…and the greatest teenage rock ‘n’ roll lyric ever: “Chewing out a rhythm on my bubble gum…”
17. You Drive Me Wild – The Runaways… Not really about driving or cars. No explanation needed, really.
18. Goin’ Out West – Tom Waits… I’ve never been a big Waits fan, but I’ve never heard anything by him that didn’t hold my attention. On the original tape I had his song “Diamonds On My Windshield”, but deleted it as the mix evolved. I fell in love with “Goin’ Out West” from its brief appearance in “Fight Club”. It’s has this post-apocalyptic road song feel to me. IDK. Favorite lyrics:“I know karate, and voodoo too…” (of course) and “I got some dragstrip courage, I can really drive a bed…”
19. Six Days On The Road – Flying Burrito Brothers… “I’m takin’ little white pills and my eyes are open wide” Having watched “Gimme Shelter” countless times growing up, this song was all I knew of the Burritos and Gram Parsons. It was also the first thing that came to my mind when I would think of Northern California. In April 2018, I drove from San Francisco to Reno. Although I was 50 miles away from the actual site of Altamont, there were plenty of lush green hills to look at as I listened to this. Another time I was heading back from Midland and listening to my Gram/Burritos mix, and I passed a truck that was a freight line company from Winter Haven, Florida, Gram’s birthplace and where his family’s orange empire exists. There’s too many songs by this guy that could be on this playlist.
20. Down The Line – Buddy Holly… I’ve driven down many of the roads around Lubbock. When I hear this song I think of a teenage Buddy racing down the backroads around there. And I love the theme of burning down the line to get to his girl.
“Well, the big policeman pulled along side of me
He said “Boy, you ain’t quite as fast as me”
I showed him a picture of that baby of mine
He said “Boy, you gotta roll on down that line”
21. Nervous Breakdown – Black Flag… Some songs just perfectly express what it’s like traveling around a big city.
22. Jigsaw Puzzle Blues – Fleetwood Mac… Wait. This is a instrumental. What does have to do with the theme? Aside from the paper airplane scene in “Rock ‘N’ Roll High School”, it’s just a song I like to drive to. It also makes me think of Django Reinhardt, who was a gypsy. And gypsies are travelers.
23. Motor Head Baby – Johnny “Guitar” Watson… The original Federal 45, released as Young John Watson, goes for $250 on Discogs. I sure get off on the piano solo but that record is a little out of my price range. John talks about his lady friend who likes a man with a fast car and that driving slow is “the kind of stuff she hates”. The verse with ”I was doin’ ’bout a 103. She said, now step on the gas John darlin’ and stop all that teasing me” reminds me of an episode of “Happy Days” where Mork from Ork returns from the future (it was the set up for the spin-off “Mork & Mindy”). Fonzie asks about cars and girls in the year 1979. Mork replies“both are faster!”
24. Mr. Highway Man – Howlin’ Wolf… The Wolf’s early Memphis recordings are so loud and raw, they’re almost punk rock. A lot the raunch can be attributed simply to big man’s booming voice, but also to the distorted sound of guitarist Willie Johnson. Writer Robert Palmer says Johnson was the inventor of the power chord (years before Link Wray), while others claim his playing as a distant ancestor of Heavy Metal. Johnson would stay in Memphis when Wolf moved to Chicago, ultimately replacing Johnson with Hubert Sumlin, but that’s Johnson on this track and the classic “How Many More Years”. Then there’s the over-the-top drums…
25. Selfdestructo Bust – Turbonegro… Before I went digital, I never left the house without a tape or CD of Turbonegro’s Apocalypse Dudes. I can’t tell you what this song is about, but it’s perfect driving music. “I gotta get away, my time will fade away. I’m gonna spend it in the dust…”
26. Have Love Will Travel – The Sonics… The title says it all. Rob Lind’s sax solo is, as the kids say, SICK! Another essential roadtrip band.
27. Jack The Ripper – Link Wray… Named after the legendary serial killer, yet it’s a instrumental, and one of Link’s songs that qualifies as a surf tune. On October 11, 2015, I was traveling across New Mexico listening to this playlist. Here’s something I wrote that day: “Earlier today, I was driving on I-40 (Route 66), just east of Grants, NM. There was this stretch of the highway that ran between these two bluffs on each side, almost like I was going through a canyon. There was this biker riding along on the service road. It was such a cool looking sight with the cliffs in the background. I wish I could have taken a picture of him. Maybe it’s from the dozens of times I’ve watched “Easy Rider”, but there was something so cinematic about it, and something so Americana. This wasn’t some weekend warrior, I’m talkin’ a REAL biker. Long hair, beard, bandana, big shades, and a leather vest with a MC patch on the back, riding a huge chopper bike. The coolest thing of all, I was listening to this song (“Jack The Ripper”) at that exact moment.”
28. Drag Strip Tease – The Bomboras… I had this song for years on a mixtape that was given to me with no information. I was convinced it was a band from the 60s. The muddy production really captures the sound and feel of 60s garage and surf. That was until I saw the Bomboras play it live. I also thought the name was probably “Hey Little Bird”, which caused trouble in finding it. And I honestly could not understand what Jake Cavaliere was singing when he said the actual title of this song.
29. Brand New Cadillac – The Clash… London Calling (the album) is a favorite to put on while driving. It never fails to put me in a good mood. I love that the second song of the album is a cover of this 1959 Vince Taylor and The Playboys classic. The Clash had so many sides to them, and they were always rooted in the Blues, R&B, and early Rock ‘N’ Roll in one way or another.
30. Me And My Chauffeur Blues – Memphis Minnie… Killer song about a woman who A) is sleeping with her chauffeur, or B) simply refers to her man as her chauffeur (something I can relate to). She is willing to buy him a new V-8 Ford, but if she catches him driving any other girls around, she’s gonna get herself a pistol and shoot her chauffeur down. Ok… Minnie lifts the melody of “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” while her husband at the time, Ernest Lawlars aka Little Son Joe plays that wicked boogie rhythm underneath during the “solo”. (see #86)
31. Running Free – Iron Maiden… Another band I love to listen to while I’m driving. I was a huge fan in high school and have never lost my love for their early stuff. I recently went to see them play for the first time in 31 years. Couldn’t help but add this song to the playlist.
32. No Fun – The Stooges… “Maybe go out. Maybe stay home. Maybe call mom on the telephone…” Bored? Hop in the car and go for a ride.
33. Leaving Here – The Who… R&B standard covered by many in the 60s, but this version taken from a BBC session is the best!
34. Long As I Can See The Light – Creedence Clearwater Revival… I’m a fan of the Grand Theft Auto video games, and many years ago I was obsessed with the one volume called GTA: San Andreas. In the “open world” game you can travel all over a fictional version of California that also included a desert oasis similar to Las Vegas. There is a ton of music in the game that is transmitted through the radios of each vehicle. Using the cinematic camera mode really gives the feeling that you’re in a movie, and so I recorded hours and hours of myself playing the game on VHS, driving all over San Andreas. By splitting the audio cables I was able to also add my own choices of music. This song was used on a motorcycle ride at sundown.
35. One More Cup of Coffee – Bob Dylan… The first time I ever heard Bob Dylan was in 1976 with the release of the Desire album. Some friends of my parents were big fans and I heard some of it at their house one night, but I really didn’t remember this song until I heard the White Stripes’ cover of it. Emmylou Harris accompanies Dylan on this gypsy story with middle-eastern melodies and some lovely violin played by Scarlet Riviera.
36. State Trooper – Bruce Springsteen… Nebraska is a great record to listen to on the road if you’re wide awake. You got to be alert and in the right mood to listen to mellow music while driving. Fortunately Bruce lets out a couple of screams at the end that will jar your eyes wide open. It’s strange how a semi-rockabilly drone on an acoustic guitar sounds so futuristic, but then he took inspiration from the groundbreaking synth/punk band Suicide.
37. Silver Machine – Hawkwind…
38. Motorhead – Hawkwind…
39. Ace of Spades – Motorhead…
40. You’re Gonna Miss Me – 13th Floor Elevators… I never listened to much Hawkwind till Lemmy passed away a few of years ago, and I’ve been in love with “Silver Machine” since. I wanted to include some Motörhead on here and thought the song of the same name would be fitting, but I really dig the Hawkwind version (that wicked fiddle!). And honestly when it comes to good driving Motörhead songs, you can’t beat “Ace of Spades”, even though it has nothing to do with driving. “You’re Gonna Miss Me” should be on every playlist, and I think it fits here perfectly. Also, it was originally done by Roky’s pre-Elevators band The Spades… see how I tied all that together?
41. Hellbound Train – Poison 13…
42. Look Back – The Monkeywrench… Train songs fit the theme as well because a train can be a metaphor for a journey. “Leaving town on a helllbound train” ain’t much different than being on the highway to hell. “Look Back” was originally a Poison 13 song and I would have included it if I only had a digital copy of it.
43. I’m Feeling Good – Holly Golightly & Dan Melchior… Although Nina Simone’s version is more famous, Holly’s is my favorite. Hittin’ the road is all about feeling good.
44. Highway 60 – Johnny “Guitar” Watson… Another ode to the road from the young Gangster of Love.
45. Green Machine – Kyuss… The video for this song is like a cinematic version of this playlist: a car blazing down desert highways to the vanishing point.
46. Roadrunner – The Modern Lovers… Songs about cars can be specific in the details. I’m not sure if Jonathan Richman is singing about an actual Plymouth Roadrunner or the bird. But a song like this, that’s so upbeat and fun, I picture a convertible. There’s just some songs that feel like you’re driving a convertible on a sunny day. With the radio on. Check out the fan made video using time lapse footage from what looks like the late 60s or early 70s.
47. Big Road – Jon Spencer Blues Explosion… Added this just recently. I was stuck in traffic behind a ugly multi-car wreck when I realized it was Russell Simins birthday. Had to place it after The Modern Lovers because when I saw Spencer with his HITmakers earlier this year they did a short version of “Roadrunner”.
48. So Many Roads, So Many Trains – Otis Rush… “Well I followed her to the station…” Oops! Wrong song! 😄
49. Love In Vain – The Rolling Stones
50. Sweet Virginia – The Rolling Stones… “The blue light was my blues, and the red light was my mind.” Anyone that knows me is probably sick of hearing me say that Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out is my all-time favorite album,, but it is dammit! I listen to it multiple times a year including often while I’m behind the wheel. The live version of “Love In Vain” is almost like a hymn to me. It’s like dope. I get high as fuck when I’m hear it. That Mick Taylor slide guitar gives me goosebumps. ”Sweet Virginia” is another one I inserted into my GTA play. Who doesn’t love a sing-along on a road trip? Especially when you can get a bunch of people to say “shit” in unison. Both are in my top five favorite Stones songs.
51. Head On – The Jesus And Mary Chain… Makes me wanna drive with the top down and toss the rearview mirror to the side of the road.
52. Trying To Get To You – Elvis Presley… “Drive My Car” by the Beatles would have been too obvious.
53. Walk On By – Issac Hayes… I have the single version on 45 and CD, but the full album version is just epic. The beginning sounds like a soundtrack to a Blaxploitation/Spaghetti Western mashup, while the ending is like some kind of psychedelic gospel. Suitable for a drive-by in the promised land. Another GTA connection, I fell in love with this song from Compton’s Most Wanted’s “Hood Took Me Under”, which was based on a sample of the song and is featured in GTA: San Andreas. “Walk…” was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David and it was a huge hit for Dionne Warwick in 1963. It’s been covered and sampled by many artists over the years. Hayes cut his version in ‘69, and in 1995, he and the song were revived when it was included on the soundtrack to the film “Dead Presidents”. A video was made that included scenes from the film and showed some of the cast members riding across the desert in a black Lincoln Continental with Hayes riding in the backseat. This was another reason why I think of it as a road song. https://youtu.be/t0M58TvgrXw
54. Runnin’ Down A Dream – Tom Petty… Yet another GTA tune. Actually reminds me of the first time I heard it on the radio in 1989, driving home from work when I worked in Haltom City (Ft. Worth). Got seriously burned out on it, but love it anyways. Mike Campbell is the shit.
55. Shifting Gears – Lalo Schifrin… The prelude to the greatest car chase in film (IMO). I’ve watched “Bullitt” countless times since I was a kid. It’s a great crime drama, but that chase is the centerpiece. Originally I had the longer 11-minute version on here, but then the song is only in the movie for a couple of minutes before the black Charger peels out, and no music plays during the chase. The first time I visited San Francisco, I sat at the same light where the chase begins. When I’m driving around a city and this song is on, I’m constantly checking my mirrors to see if I’m being followed. Or waiting for the car in front of me to floor it. https://youtu.be/7EK5MHzqcaw
56. I Just Want To Have Something To Do – Ramones… Another convertible song…well, I think that because of the scene in “Rock ‘N’ Roll High School” where the Ramones are lip-syncing it while riding in a Cadillac convertible. Actually it’s more of a nighttime, cruising the strip, looking for a something to do kind of song.
57. New Kind Of Kick – The Cramps… I’m lookin’ and lookin’ and lookin’…
58. Nowhere – The Motards…
59. Just The Other Side Of Nowhere – Kris Kristofferson…
60. A Long Way To Nowhere – The Pseudos… Three songs about nowhere.
61. Ride With Me Baby – Long John Hunter… The REAL West Texas Sound.
62. Takin’ A Ride – The Replacements… “The light is green and so am I…” Gee, I have this song on at least two other playlists…
63. Built For Speed – The Stray Cats… The perfect blend of Scotty Moore pickin’ and Chuck Berry phrasin’.
64. Highway Star – Deep Purple… Top 10 car song. Maybe number one? Known to cause a breakout of both air guitar and air organ solos. Other notable DP choices: “Speed King” and “Space Truckin’”.
65. Ramblin’ Man – Hank Williams… “When that open road starts to calling me, there’s somethin’ over the hill that I gotta see.”
66. My GTO – Teengenerate… I don’t really understand much of the words except for “my GTO”, and that’s good enough to make this playlist.
67. Ride On – AC/DC… On a recent trip up to Oklahoma with my mom, I had this playlist going but had the volume low so as to not annoy her. Halfway through this song she said “Is this AC/DC?” Yeah, my mom is cool.
68. Digital Billboards – Rocket 808… The debut 45 by my friend John Schooley was one of my favorite releases of 2018. This song was an instant inclusion to this playlist. I described it as “…perfect for the soundtrack to the sci-fi film noir/spaghetti western mashup that’s in my head.” Schooley’s description of “Suicide meets Link Wray” or mashing “Dick Dale and Santo and Johnny into Angelo Baldimanti soundtracks for David Lynch films that haven’t been made yet” works too. https://youtu.be/8Iv5h5YOtWk
69. The Farther I Go – Mudhoney… Does it seem like I’m running out of things to say? The farther I go… I’ve tried to resist including any songs that might be downers, other than songs about Hell and lost highways. The original mixtape had “Broke Down Engine Blues” by Blind Willie McTell, but I felt like that was asking for it. And ZZ Top’s “Arrested For Driving While Blind” was too risky. Roy Acuff singing “Wreck On The Highway” was too depressing, Queen’s “I’m In Love With My Car” is too weird, while Motörhead’s “Killed By Death”…you get the picture.
70. Where The Rubber Meets The Road – Danny & The Darleans… When I made the trip from Phoenix in 2015, I had just seen Danny & The Darleans at the Burger Boogaloo a few months before and was blown away by them, and this song in particular. At the time I was trying to get with a girl who was playing games with me. “Baby, let’s stop this beating around the bush. We got to do this, are you gonna need a push?” The song said exactly how I was feeling so I added it to the playlist. Oh, and they’re from Detroit, son.
71. Under My Wheels – Alice Cooper… Sometimes, who you’re with ain’t no good unless you can get away from her…I mean them. And sometimes they’re pure evil. You could run them over with your car and they’ll just get right back up.
72. Plastic Jesus – Tia Blake… So many versions of this including Paul Newman‘s iconic rendition in one of my all-time favorite movies “Cool Hand Luke”, but I couldn’t decide on one. Originally I went with the Flaming Lips version but still wasn’t satisfied. I had never heard of Tia Blake (the stage name of the late Christiana Elizabeth Wallman), and this version from 1972. It’s a nice, bluesy folk treatment. I just added it which gave me a chance to use another song by the Lips…
73. Take Me Ta Mars – The Flaming Lips… Let’s go.
74. Eight Miles High – The Byrds… Till the wheels come off… the ground. A staple of FM rock radio growing up means I heard it quite a bit in the car.
75. New San Antonio Rose – Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys… Texas.
76. Headin’ For The Texas Border – Flamin’ Groovies… Miles and miles…
77. Cowboy Song – Thin Lizzy… More Texas in a Irishman’s southwest fantasy. “ I was took in Texas, I did not know her name. Lord, all these southern girls seem the same.” Not about driving or cars, but another staple of my high school cruising soundtrack. Many times me and my buddies would park in a gravel pit on the outskirts of town, not far from my house. Depending on who’s car we were in , we might have a cassette deck or an 8-track player (it was the mid-80s) or simply have to listen to the radio. Sitting under the stars drinking beer and smoking cigarettes with my pals would be the perfect setting when this song came up. And of course the pure guitar ecstasy of Scott Gorham’s two iconic solos had us breaking out the air guitars.
78. I’ve Been Everywhere – Johnny Cash… Did you know this song was originally written by Australian country singer? Geoff Mack wrote it in 1959, listing Australian towns and it has been covered by many, adapting it to English, Scottish and New Zealand toponyms. In 1962, another Australian singer, Lucky Starr, had a number one hit with it, while Hank Snow had a number one Country hit with a US adaptation, and that would be the version Johnny is doing here with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers backing him in 1996.
79. Don’t Let Him Ride – Mississippi Nightingales… If you let the devil ride, then he will want to drive.
80. Master Of Sparks – ZZ Top… I wish someone would make a movie about ZZ Top and give us a cinematic version of this true story from Billy Gibbons’ youth. I would love to make a video of the song but it would probably cost millions in computer animation. Actually it would probably be better to just be old-school animation. Runner-up ZZ Top song: “She Loves My Automobile”.
81. Jesus Built My Hotrod – Ministry… Has there ever been a better collaboration than Ministry and Gibby Haynes? Another favorite to listen to in traffic. If I was ranking these, this would also be a top 10 pick. https://youtu.be/GXCh9OhDiCI
82. Boss Hoss – The Sonics… A new set of wheels = all the honeys.
83. Beach Party Town – Labretta Suede & The Motel 6… Another great convertible song. If this song had come out in the early 80s, it could have been sandwiched between some B-52s and the Go-Go’s easily. Of course if you know me, I’m always looking to slip in a Labretta tune.
84. Down The Road A Piece – The Rolling Stones… Thank you Chuck Berry for inventing the Rolling Stones.
85. Take Me Back – The King Khan & BBQ Show… November 2006, the weekend following my Halloween birthday, I decided to treat myself to a trip to Austin. I took a five hour scenic route, listening to all kinds of good tunes. These guys were playing in ATX that night. I was familiar with their work years before with the Spaceshits, as well as BBQ’s solo records. I had no idea what a glorious, pure rock ‘n’ roll treat I would be witnessing. On the ride home the next night, I listened to this song multiple times on the CD I bought at the show. Since then I’ve seen them several times but it was only the first time that they played this.
86. I Want To Be Your Driver – Chuck Berry… Chuck rips off #30. So many car songs to pick from Chuck’s catalog.
87. Speedin’ Back To My Baby – Ace Frehley… Even when I was 12, I knew someday I would be driving down the road rocking out to this one.
88. Radar Love – Golden Earring… Another one for the top 10.
89. Foggy Mountain Breakdown – Flatt & Scruggs… The classic getaway song due to its use in the 1969 film “Bonnie and Clyde”. It was entered in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2004.
90. Boxcar – Shovels & Rope… A reimagining and role-reversal of Bonnie and Clyde.
91. Jackson – Lucinda Williams… No one name-drops places like Lucinda (in addition to using the melody of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”). She tries to convince herself that by the time she reaches her destination, she will have forgotten her broken heart, yet as she passes through every little town along the way it’s obvious nothing will have changed by the time she gets to Jackson.
92. Driving – PJ Harvey… Tell him…
93. I Was A Teenage Werewolf – The Cramps…
94. Sunglasses After Dark – The Cramps… Ok, I know this has nothing to do with cars or driving, but I just simply love listening to it when I’m behind the wheel. Also, there’s a cool fan-made video that shows a lot of desert road imagery and A-Bomb test footage. And it’s got nothing to do with being a teenage werewolf. As for ”Sunglasses…”, the two songs just go together.
95. Lonesome Town – Ricky Nelson… Once you arrive in Lonesome Town, you can leave but it never leaves you.
96. Return Of The Grievous Angel – Gram Parsons… I couldn’t resist including some more of Gram’s Americana. “Twenty-thousand roads I went down, down, down, and they all led me straight back home to you.” Pick it for me James!
97. Step On The Gas – The Mullens… A song about acceleration. 😉
98. Albatross – Fleetwood Mac… Wake up! You’re almost there…
99. Heading Out To The Highway – Judas Priest… “You can hang in a left or hang in a right. The choice it is yours to do as you might. The road is open wide to place your bidding. Now, wherever you turn, wherever you go, If you get it wrong, at least you can know there’s miles and miles to put it back together!”
100. (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66 – Nat “King” Cole… On the first night of my trip back from Phoenix, I stayed in Gallup, NM at the El Rancho Hotel, located on the historic Route 66. When I booked my room I watched a really cool promotional video for the hotel that featured this version of the song. I had never heard Cole’s version before. I instantly fell in love with it and added it to the playlist.
So yeah, I could have added some obvious choices like “Drive My Car”, or “The Long And Winding Road”, or “On The Road Again”, or “King of The Road”, or “Crosstown Traffic”, or “Roadhouse Blues”, etc. I can’t even remember some I had on here and then deleted, but they’re all good. I’m sure somebody could make a list with tons of stuff I’ve never heard. I would love to see any playlists anyone wants to share, and definitely any good road stories.
FYI: On YouTube, “Take Me Back” by The King Khan & BBQ Show is mislabeled as “Am I The One”.