BY: SAMANTHA TAPP
Whether you’re taking a dream road trip with your significant other, travelling the open roads with your best friends, or stuffing into the car for a family trip, there’s one thing you’ll need to join you on the roads: music. The music you choose to accompany you through your adventure is not to be underestimated; it’ll perk you up when you’ve been driving for hours, it’ll be the background noise for your favourite new memories and how can you pretend to be on a road trip in a movie if you don’t have the perfect song blaring through your speakers?
So, yes, you need to choose carefully. To help lead you in the right direction and ease some the stress of planning a trip, there are a few classics you must have on your road trip playlist. To narrow it down from the millions of songs that could make an appearance on your playlist, these are the best songs by American musicians that you need to play at least once on the road. From classic rock to hiphop, this list will give you a little bit of everything.
These are the 10 best songs by American musicians you need on your road trip:
Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen (1975)
Classic. Before you start arguing that it should’ve been a different Bruce song, it’s true. Any one of his songs is perfect for a road trip. ‘Born in the USA,’ yup. ‘Thunder Road,’ definitely. ‘State Trooper,’ for sure. But, for the sake of having a list that isn’t just Bruce, ‘Born to Run’ it is. This song will make you want to step on the gas and fly down the open roads. As the song revs up and he starts begging his girlfriend to run away with him, you’ll be speeding down the highway singing along, running away in your own way. This is the perfect road trip anthem.
Home – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (2010)
The cute and catchy love song is perfect for your road trip. It could be used as a going home anthem as it revolves around going home, but it could also be an everyday anthem in the car if you’re travelling with loved ones as the lyric “Home is wherever I’m with you” could mean that you’re at home on your road trip. Whatever this one means to you, it’s happy, upbeat and a good one to listen to at any time.
California – Phantom Planet (2001)
Whether or not you’re actually driving to California, this needs to be on your playlist. It’s relaxed, it will put you in a good mood and it will make you feel like you’re a part of The O.C. whether you like it or not. The entire song is about driving to California and you can pretty much replace California with your main destination and make this a go-to road trip song.
A Thousand Miles – Vanessa Carlton (2001)
This song alone could be your entire road trip playlist. It’s perfect for your road trip as it’s one of those early 2000 songs that everyone knows and immediately starts singing as soon as it comes on. And you need at least one love song on your journey, even if it is just as cheesy and catchy as this one.
Runnin’ Down A Dream – Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers (1989)
How can you not sing this song while on the highway? It’s about driving towards a dream; it’s positive, upbeat and will make you feel like you’re also chasing your dream. Another pro to this song? Pretty much everyone has heard it and knows the lyrics, so consider this one of the many sing-a-long songs that will pop up on your iPod.
99 Problems – Jay Z (2003)
I don’t even feel like I need to explain this one. Obviously the second verse is one of the greatest ever in hip-hop history and it’s also the craziest play-by-play of getting pulled over by a cop. Hopefully you don’t get pulled over and I wouldn’t recommend dealing with it like Jay Z does (“Cause I’m young and I’m black and my hat’s real low?/Do I look like a mind reader sir, I don’t know”). Even without your own run in with the cops, it’s a great song to get you hyped up and help you enjoy the ride.
On the Road Again – Willie Nelson (1980)
It ain’t a road trip without Willie. Even if you’re not a big fan of country, this has to be one of your go-to road trip songs; it’s literally about being on the road again, what could be better? The song is about a musician travelling across the U.S. with his band and family and it’s one of the country music’s most popular songs. The simple tune and relatable lyrics will have the entire car singing along to this epic travel theme song.
Shut Up And Drive – Rihanna (2009)
You need at least one catchy pop song on your road trip play list and this one is perfect. Catchy? Check. Upbeat? Check. Ridiculous lyrics about driving? Check. That’s pretty much all you need. Plus, it’s Rihanna. If you’re looking for better pop songs she’s made tons. However, in the spirit of a road trip playlist, this is the winning track. Nothing lifts the spirits of a grumpy group of road trippers than an old pop song. So turn it on and shut up and drive.
Fast Car – Tracy Chapman (1988)
Contrary to its title, this song isn’t actually about a speeding car racing through the streets. The song is about a couple working towards a brighter future together somewhere else. It’s about change and excitement and going someplace new. If there’s any song that makes you want to hit the road and find a new place and new adventures, this is one of them.
Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane (1991)
Obviously this is a perfect road trip tune. Maybe don’t drive all night long like he suggests, but if you’re really feeling this tune then you just might be able to. This song isn’t a masterpiece but everyone knows the lyrics and it’s almost obligatory to listen to it at least once on a road trip.