top road trip songs guitar

Car tunes: Videos of 12 top road trip songs

by Michael on June 24, 2015

One of the most important aspects of a road trip, besides maybe driving a ’57 Thunderbird convertible, is a cool soundtrack for the road. Some top road trip songs are more suited to pressing the pedal to the metal as you race on through a desert landscape, watching the dusty miles peel away, while others better fit the melancholy that sets in at the end of another 10 hour day in your car.

Here are some of our favorite road trip songs: (Sorry for the ads that appear under some of the videos, they come from the original but can be “X”ed out.)

12) Life is a Highway — Tom Cochrane

Not quite a one-hit wonder, Canadian singer Tom Cochrane scored a few hits with his original band Red Rider.



11) Runnin’ Down A Dream — Tom Petty

Petty has written several kickin’ road trip songs but we’ll go with this one.



10) Fun Fun Fun — The Beach Boys

Any song that mentions a T-Bird is all right by me.



9) Pacific Coast Highway — Hole

A melancholy drive along the Pacific Coast Highway from a woman who certainly knows melancholy.



8) Running on Empty — Jackson Browne

“Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels.”

Oh how I can relate to those lyrics.



7) Fast Car — Tracy Chapman

“You got a fast car
Is it fast enough so we can fly away?
We gotta make a decision
Leave tonight or live and die this way.”

No one can sing pain like Tracy Chapman.



6) On the Road Again — Willie Nelson

In his 80s, Willie still tours 300+ days a year. He must be having some fun on that bus of his.



5) Rearview Mirror — Pearl Jam

Sometimes road trips are all about leaving your old life behind. Pearl Jam captures this feeling perfectly.



4) I Drove All Night — Roy Orbison

Originally recorded by Orbison but not released until after Cyndi Lauper’s version rode the charts. See if you can recognize the two stars of the day in this video. Extra points if you know the car they’re driving.



3) Born to Run — Bruce Springsteen

With lyrics like “chrome wheel, fuel injected, stepping out over the line” this song had to be on this list.



2) Where the Streets Have No Name — U2

I was driving across the Badlands of South Dakota at the end of a very long day when this song came on the radio and kept me going. Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that we quote U2 lyrics quite often.



1) Born to be Wild — Steppenwolf

“Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way”

From the soundtrack of Easy Rider and still the undisputed king of the road trip songs.



What are some of your favorite driving songs?

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Limetime Girl October 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm

The Eagles: Take it Easy……

Sam October 27, 2013 at 12:30 pm

School’s Out by Alice Cooper on the last day of class.

Jeff October 27, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Good list. Only 2 quibbles. I would not include Tracy Chapman, way too depressing. And, where was Convoy??!!!?? One of the best road tripping songs ever…IMHO. 🙂

Michael October 27, 2013 at 1:13 pm

You are so right about Convoy. I’ll have to add that as an Honorable Mention.

Cathy Sweeney October 27, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Horse With No Name by America been road tripping with that song since the 70s.

Penny Sadler October 28, 2013 at 12:34 pm

I love this list! Some sad songs, but some really fun ones too. Good mix!

Michael October 28, 2013 at 12:57 pm

If you’re an America fan Sister Golden Hair is a good driving tune too.

Michael October 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm

“Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona” Good one! Classic Route 66 driving song.

Rashad Pharaon October 28, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Have to chime in here and defend Tracy Chapman, especially that song choice – FAST CAR is one of my favorites!!!

wanderingeducators October 28, 2013 at 6:52 pm

fun list!! mostly different from our road trip list – i love the variety in life!

Michael October 28, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Sometimes melancholy is just the right choice when you’ve been driving all day.

Michael October 29, 2013 at 1:07 am

The favorite artist of my youth. I still think of the end of school year when I hear it.

Hannah October 29, 2013 at 4:04 am

Born to be wild is definitely my number 1 too. This list is awesome

Cat of Sunshine and Siestas October 29, 2013 at 7:11 am

Great ideas! My dad has a ’57 Corvette that he’d joy ride us around in when we were kids. It was the only time I could listen to the oldies before turning 16 – my car’s radio is always on the rock station!

My favorite travel inspired song has to be Summer Cat – it just reminds me of jetting off!

Terry at Overnight New York October 31, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Great choices, from “Fast Car” to “Born to Be Wild.” Our family trips are usually a mix of Elvis, Diana Krall and Randy Newman — “Boom goes London, Boom Paree . . . “

Marina K. Villatoro November 1, 2013 at 12:25 am

mmmmm…. a lot of these songs bring me back to when my girlfriends and I did a lot of road tripping and way too many sing alongs.

Gabi (The Nomadic Family) November 2, 2013 at 2:46 am

Great ideas.I really love the way of your post.Hugs Gabi

Micki @ The Barefoot Nomad November 6, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Oh, you had me when you opened with Tom Cochrane! (Wow – Letterman looks so young in that video!) As a Canadian girl, Life is a Highway is definitely one of my favorite road trip songs ever. Though Runnin’ back to Saskatoon by the Guess Who makes the list too, but I think that’s a prairie girl thing instead 🙂

Mary @ Green Global Travel November 7, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Great list! We recently drove 5 hrs to the Gulf Coast from Atanta and would have loved to have this songs playing in the background. I’m a fan of Life is a Highway 🙂

Cindy December 22, 2013 at 11:46 pm

I Can’t Drive 55!

Michael December 23, 2013 at 12:57 am

That’s another good one.

Duke Kashyap January 7, 2014 at 5:17 am

sweet home Alabama….

John Ramsey January 5, 2015 at 3:22 pm

Drivers Seat, Sniff & the Tears.Takes some beating in my opinion. Especially the 12″ single version.
Total beauty.

Michael January 5, 2015 at 4:32 pm

Good one.

Larry schroepfer June 29, 2015 at 4:26 pm

1. Bright Eyes (or was that album Connor Oberst)? “Moab”
2. Cowboy Junkies, “200 More Miles”
3. Peter, Paul and Mary, “500 Miles”
4 Simon and Garfunkel, “America”
5. Bob Dylan, “Rambler, Gambler”

Michael June 29, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Good choices. I see you like songs with numbers of miles in them.

Izy berry June 29, 2015 at 11:52 pm

Omg perfect Playlist for a road trip

Noah July 13, 2015 at 9:50 pm

I Am The Highway – Audioslave

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