What’s better than packing up the car, throwing a dart at a map, and tearing down the open road? No official destination. No itinerary. Just you and an epic mix of songs to keep you company. Follow below for our picks of the top road trip soundtrack songs we could muster up.
“This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” – Talking Heads
We start this lovely sounding list with a song by one of the most critically acclaimed bands of the 1980s. “This Must Be the Place” is a soothing mix of electric guitar, bass guitar, a simple drum beat, and backed with keyboard stabs that will have you smiling from ear to ear. Imagine listening to this tune while on a coastal cruise up California’s Highway 1.
“The Weight” – The Band
Moving down the highway, the next song on your track list is a quintessential tune for the road, wherever it may lead you. “The Weight” is influenced by country music and played by a Canadian-American band. It’s an odd blend, but my, oh, my does it work. If this isn’t high on your road trip soundtrack list, stop reading now and play it loud.
“Green Onions” – Booker T. and the M.G.’s
Take a break from the imaginary microphone sticking out of your steering wheel. Just put the windows down, recline that seat just a bit, and turn on the ever-familiar sound of “Green Onions”. Thanks to Booker T. and his boys for creating the most popular instrumental rock song our ears have ever heard. As a testament to this song’s legacy, it’s the only instrumental song listed on “Rolling Stone”’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. So yeah, it’s pretty good.
“Midnight Train to Georgia” – Gladys Knight & the Pips
All hail the “Empress of Soul” and the three Pips. They gave us an incredible rendition of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Take Me in Your Arms and Love Me”, but it’s the song above about a failed musician who returns to his native Georgia thinking his love isn’t coming with him. But little does he know that she’ll be on that midnight train to Georgia. This isn’t a slow song, but keep the tissues handy.
“Easy Rider” – (Soundtrack)
We know this isn’t a song, but we can’t imagine talking about road trip music without mentioning the entire soundtrack to this landmark counterculture road film. If somehow you can make the journey on a motorcycle, you’d be a legend. Listening to “Born to Be Wild” while your rolling down the highway on a hog is about all you can ask for.
There it is, the five most important songs you need when hitting the open road. Well, four and one album, but you get it. Enjoy the tunes. Enjoy the journey. And don’t forget to send us some post cards along the way.