10 of the best road trip songs about driving


Music makes the drive more enjoyable — Photo courtesy of iStock/UberImages

It’s time for the second installment of the 10Best road trip playlist series, sure to bring music and joy to your summer, whether you’re hitting the road for a trip or you just need a pick-me-up on your daily commute.

Last week, we gave you an upbeat playlist filled with songs about cars.  For this week, we’ve got a toe-tapping compilation of songs about what exactly you’re doing in those cars: driving.

“Sausalito Summernight” – Diesel

All aboard!  How perfect is it to kick off a playlist about driving with a band called Diesel?  Of course, we hope your summer road trips fare better than the one chronicled here, as a jalopy practically falls apart on a drive north from Los Angeles to San Francisco. 

Those sorts of hiccups are shrugged off as being all part of the adventure in this infectiously catchy power-pop number.

“Drivin’ Around” – Raspberries

“Long hot days / We’ll be catchin’ the rays / You know my tape deck is blastin’ / My car’s fast / When school lets out and the summer’s here / We’ll have some time for the sun”

A reader suggested Raspberries’ “Cruisin’ Music” in the comments of our previous playlist. While “Cruisin’ Music” was certainly in the running, the lyrics for “Drivin’ Around” so perfectly encapsulate the joy and excitement of getting behind the wheel in the summertime that we couldn’t resist.

The only trouble is that now we can’t help but wonder how amazing “Drivin’ Around” would sound on the quadrasonic sound system in The Rollswagen.

“Country Roads” – Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

John Denver’s wistful dream about traveling backroads towards an idyllic home was one of the first targets for this long-running, cover-crazed punk rock supergroup. 

Your mileage may vary as to how much “Country Roads” benefits from yelped vocals and distorted power chords.  It’s a favorite of ours, anyway.


“Born to be Wild” – Steppenwolf

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

Thanks to Easy Rider, it’s tough to hear “Born to Be Wild” without picturing motorcycles tearing down the blacktop.  Still, Steppenwolf’s lyrics are every bit as strong a fit for whatever your vehicle of choice may be as you’re racin’ with the wind on a summer road trip.

“Open Road Song” – Eve 6

There are few things more cleansing than to speed down an empty highway, screaming along to the perfect song as it blares on the stereo.  That’s the premise of “Open Road Song,” off Eve 6’s self-titled debut album, and it’s a fist-pumping singalong in its own right.

“I Drove All Night” – The Protomen

“I Drove All Night” chronicles the journey of someone who’s desperately trying to make it to their beloved, unwilling to rest until they’re in each other’s arms. The song was originally written for Roy Orbison, but it was made famous by Cyndi Lauper in 1989 – and again by Celine Dion in 2003.

We favor The Protomen’s cover of “I Drove All Night,” though. It has a more infectious, driving beat than its predecessors, making it an ideal addition to this playlist.

“Shut Up and Drive” – Rihanna

“I got class like a ’57 Cadillac / And overdrive with a whole lot of boom in the back / You look like you can handle what’s under my hood…”

If you ignore the glaring metaphor, Rihanna’s new wave “Shut Up and Drive” is totally a song about driving – and it’ll get you revved up faster than you can say “0 to 60.”  You know what we mean.


“Highway Star” – Deep Purple

During an interview in 1971, a reporter asked how Deep Purple wrote their songs.  They deftly demonstrated by riffing and improvising lyrics for the song that would become “Highway Star.” 

In fact, they finished the song and performed it later that same night. That’s impressive when you consider the complex guitar and organ solos littered throughout the six-minute masterpiece.

It’s a rocking track that’s sure to inspire you to put the pedal to the metal.

“Radar Love” – Golden Earring

Nearly a decade before they stepped into the “Twilight Zone,” Golden Earring released “Radar Love,” an ode to driving long distances without your S.O. in the passenger seat.  The song demonstrates the power of a strong love connection which allows for intangible communication without the need for phone calls or love letters.

With its hypnotically rhythmic bassline and catchy chorus, you can’t help but groove in your seat as you sing along to this rock classic.

“Born to Run” – Bruce Springsteen

Born to Run offers two great options for a driving song compilation: “Thunder Road” and the title track.  We went with the latter for its anthemic lyrics and faster tempo.  Plus, the dreamy high provided by this tune is a great way to wind down this playlist.

“Tramps like us / Baby, we were born to run…”

That brings the second installment of our road trip playlists to a close.  Stay tuned for the next batch!  Let us know what you think, or if you have any playlist suggestions in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter.

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