Tuesday, November 4, 2014


When authors are in need of subject matter to carry the narrative along, two arteries in particular are popular fodder. One is love found and love lost, be it Lolita or Frankenstein. The other is the road trip, whether that means On the Road or The Lord of the Rings. The same is true, probably more so even, in songwriting. And I love a good road-trip song. 
I’ve written three American travel memoirs. I’ve visited each of the contiguous 48 states several times over. My wife and I take a road trip/publicity tour in a house on wheels for a couple of months every summer. So I know this: The view through the front windshield can seem like an epic movie of America playing before you, but it can always be enhanced by a good soundtrack to complement the scenery. 
So in honor of U.S. Route 66, which celebrates its 88th anniversary this month, here are 66 road-trip-themed tunes that will put a smile on your face as you hug the center line: 
1. Me and Bobby McGee (Janis Joplin)
My favorite song. Kris Kristofferson wrote it. Janis Joplin nailed it. But really, you can’t go wrong with any cover of this classic, whether you’re listening to Johnny Cash, Joan Baez, Sheryl Crow, or Pink. Or a really remarkable version by Jerry Lee Lewis. As the song says, “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.” 

2. On the Road Again (Willie Nelson)
Willie Nelson’s voice simply sounds like a ramble down an open highway. “The life I love is making music with my friends, and I can’t wait to get on the road again.” This is THE iconic road trip song.
3. Born to be Wild (Steppenwolf)
Not every road trip song has to be mellow. Sure, you’ll generally picture Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper on two-wheeled transportation, but this 1969 classic will “get your motor running” anyway. 
4. Thunder Road (Bruce Springsteen)
The Boss is the man when it comes to epic road trip songs, from “Rosalita” to “Born to Run” to “Darlington County.” But this is his best: “So roll down your window and let the wind blow back your hair. The night’s busting open. These two lanes will take us anywhere…”
5. King of the Road (Roger Miller)
It’s old school. It’s simple. But when you’re driving beneath the redwoods or along the Blue Ridge Parkway or through the Black Hills, you feel just like the song title. 
6. Take It Easy (The Eagles)
When you’re runnin’ down the load trying to loosen your load, consider this: You can take a drive along Route 66 to Winslow, Arizona, and Standin’ On the Corner Park, an intersection where there’s actually a flatbed Ford parked there and a mural of a woman “slowing down to take a look at me.” 

7. Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver)

8. Turn the Page (Bob Seger)

9. Ramblin’ Man (Allman Brothers)

10. Road to Nowhere (Talking Heads)

11. I’ve Been Everywhere (Johnny Cash)

12. Truckin' (Grateful Dead)

13. Free Ride (Edgar Winter Group)

14. Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd)

15. Homeward Bound (Simon & Garfunkel)

16. East Bound and Down (Jerry Reed)

17. Over the Hills and Far Away (Led Zeppelin)

18. Born to Run (Bruce Springsteen)

19. Up Around the Bend (Creedence Clearwater Revival)

20. Free Bird (Lynyrd Skynyrd)

21. On the Road to Find Out (Cat Stevens)

22. Radar Love (Golden Earring)

23. Midnight Rider (Allman Brothers)

24. Gotta Travel On (Bob Dylan)

25. The Long Way Home (Tom Waits/Norah Jones)

26. Life is a Highway (Tom Cochrane)

27. (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66 (Nat King Cole)

28. Holiday Road (Lindsey Buckingham)

29. Roam (B52s)

30. The Load Out (Jackson Browne)

31. Promised Land (Elvis Presley)

32. Rosalita (Bruce Springsteen)

33. Free and Easy Down the Road I Go (Dierks Bentley)

34. Heading for the Light (Traveling Wilburys)

35. Cruisin’ (Smokey Robinson)

36. Rockin’ Down the Highway (Doobie Brothers)

37. Who Wouldn’t Want to be Me (Keith Urban)

38. Graceland (Paul Simon)

39. No Particular Place to Go (Chuck Berry)

40. Every Day is a Winding Road (Sheryl Crow)

41. Here I Go Again (Whitesnake)

42. Going to California (Led Zeppelin)

43. Drivin’ My Life Away (Eddie Rabbit)

44. Six Days on the Road (Dave Dudley)

45. Runnin’ Down a Dream (Tom Petty) 

46. 200 More Miles (Cowboy Junkies)

47. Take the Long Way Home (Supertramp)

48. Road Trippin’ (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

49. Darlington County (Bruce Springsteen)

50. Goin’ Up the Country (Canned Heat)

51. Wanted Dead or Alive (Bon Jovi)

52. America (Simon & Garfunkel)

53. Two of Us (The Beatles)

54. Running on Empty (Jackson Browne)

55. The Way (Fastball)

56. Here I Go Again (Whitesnake)

57. Get Out the Map (Indigo Girls)

58. Roll on Down the Highway (Bachman Turner Overdrive)

59. Goin' Mobile (The Who)

60. Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad (The Grateful Dead)

61. Roll Me Away (Bob Seger)

62. Me and You and a Dog Named Boo (Lobo)

63. Jersey to O.C. (Sam Shaber)

64. This Land is Your Land (Woody Guthrie)

65. Ease on Down the Road (Michael Jackson/Diana Ross)

66. Movin' Right Along (The Muppets)


  1. Brad,
    You should make this into a Spotify play list, or have Amy or the boys do it for you.

  2. "The Long and Winding Road" (The Beatles)