Some years back my friends and I went to Yakima for a weekend. We had to take multiple cars, and I offered to be one of the drivers. I spent hours crafting a lengthy and diverse playlist and burning it to several CDs. My friend Jon, on the other hand, insisted that his car listen to the Bee Gees’ Stayin’ Alive for two hours straight. Jon claimed that it was the ideal song to play on repeat during a road trip, and believe it or not the reports from his passengers corroborated this. I was thinking I might test it out by listening to the song on repeat while driving the length of an entire state. A small state. Like Rhode Island.
But since I can’t listen to the Gibb brothers nonstop for four months, I need a few more hits on my playlist. Imagine what a waste it would be to take off on such a grand adventure without a soundtrack. Here’s my list so far:
1. 1000 Miles Per Hour by OK Go
If there’s one song that has been on my road trip playlist since the first day I heard it, it’s this.
Something about the chorus just makes me want to abandon all my plans and drive off towards the east.
2. Rock’n Me by the Steve Miller Band
This is one of those classic songs that you might not realize you already know.
3. Route 66
I’m still looking for the best version of the song Route 66, since my travels will take me along the old highway. There’s Nat King Cole and Chuck Berry of course, as well as what always seems to be an oddly ironic cover by the Rolling Stones. I would have sworn Ella Fitzgerald did a famous recording of it, but it’s possible I’m just remembering Natalie Cole.
4. Lost and Found by Katie Herzig
I’m still considering this one. It starts to have that road-trip-freedom vibe near the end, though if you pay too much attention to the lyrics it is about something else entirely.
5. Cruz by Christina Aguilera
For the absolute, straight-forward, “I’m outta here” ballad.
6. Sault Ste Marie by Mick Sterling with Kevin Bowe and the Okemah Prophets
I picked up a live recording of these guys several years ago at at the Sweet Pea Festival in Bozeman, MT. While I love the whole CD, the song that I want to put one when I’m driving late at night is “Sault Ste Marie.” I credit this song wholly and specifically for why I’m even bothering to go to Sault Saint Marie on this trip. I didn’t know the place existed before this song. I can’t find the live recording anywhere online, but you can listen to a preview of the studio version on iTunes.
7. The One I Love by Greg Laswell
Because every playlist needs something chipper but bitterweet.
8. Down in the Valley by The Head and the Heart
One final song that was added to my list recently also has the benefit of coming with a road trip themed music video. Though I’ve never been a specific fan of The Head and The Heart, it will be nice to know that I’m bringing a little bit of Seattle with me the whole way.