Summertime Road Trip Playlist

12-Hour Road Trip Playlist Whittled Down to 12 Songs You Can Probably Duplicate on Spotlfy or iTunes or Is Napster Still Around?

Ocean and Vine Guest Blogger
Listen to entire playlist on Spotify, here.

No matter where you’re going (unless it’s across the street to get a coffee because you’re too lazy to grind any beans at home), the first song, obviously (we all know this, but it needs to be said) out of your car stereo (we do all know this, right?) should be (must be) (even if you don’t like his voice, or him, or this song) Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”, the original off Highway 61 Revisited (although his live version with the Band on Before the Flood will do if you like to mix it up a bit). No song gets a road trip off to its properly exaltant, joyous and coffee-fueled start like its one-two snap of drum and organ blast. Nothing!

Bob Dylan Highway 61 RevisitedBob Dylan record cover

Except maybe Niles Rodgers shiny percussive guitar intro to Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out”, tailed by Tony Thompson’s almost over-anxious snare-thrum, coiled like the barely-contained enthusiasm of a runner waiting for the crack of the starting pistol. Maybe you should start with that one instead. Yeah, start with that one. Or the Dylan song. Or something by Maroon 5. What do I care?

Maroon 5 Sucks

But I do care. The soundtrack of your life is almost as important as the soundtrack of my life. Listening to the wrong music (to a well-documented snob like me) is akin to eating a Papa John’s pizza while sitting in the lap of the Pieta. Or serving the Pope a bowl of SpaghettiOs. You get it, right? Well, if you don’t, the 50-year old man reading this blog over your shoulder at Starbucks gets it.

However, despite the above proselytizing,I did NOT start with “Rolling Stone.” Because, I knew my audience: My wife, my in-laws and my niece (the ones who quote “Christmas Vacation” all year). And although this song isn’t from that movie, but their first in the franchise, I had to begin with it: Holiday Road by Lindsey Buckingham. We faux-Griswolds hit the road (84-East) bright and early on a Thursday morning, heading to Lewiston, ID (not out ultimate destination -- god love it, but who road-trips to Lewiston?).

That crucial song, on which an adventures hinges, out of the way, the rest of the playlist is cake (but not “Cake,” an all right band if you like your songs full of announcements).

This is a summer road trip playlist. I guess you can take a road trip in the winter. But that would require a winter playlist. Which this is not.


1. Holiday Road - Lindsey Buckingham

“It’s a long way down the holiday road.” We just got back from a 3,000 mile trip. That’s practically halfway to the moon.

2. This Wheel’s on Fire - The Byrds

“Rolling down the road.” A road song from old weird America. Perpetually apocalyptic.

3. Play It All Night Long -  Warren Zevon

A marching song for an army of adventure bugs. Also an answer song to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” (itself an answer song to Neil Young’s “Southern Man”). So turn it down when you’re in Alabama. Or maybe turn it up. I’m not sure.

4. Quality of Armor - Guided By Voices

“Oh yeah, I’m gonna drive my care / Oh yeah, I’m gonna go real far.” That’s what you’re doing. Keep doing it. Or walk, for the sake of the environment.

5. Trailer - Mudcrutch

You pullin’ one of those babies across the Badlands? Fair play to you! Your commitment to the unnecessary is a barometer of American wellness (or, well, mess). They roll down the highways with nervous energy, meeting each tunnel breathlessly. And those ones with bathrooms? That’s the greatest invention since the bathroom.

6. The Weight - The Band

“Take a load off, Fanny” and stretch your legs at a rest stop. (Sorry to follow-up all that chemical toilet talk with that line.)

7. Pilgrim - Steve Earle

“I am just a pilgrim on this road.” Be reverent in your travels, peaceful in your awe.

8. Time Spent in Los Angeles - Dawes

“It’s something written in the headlights.” I like to travel by sunlight, but sometimes night advances slyly and suddenly the moon’s the brightest light. Seeing the exit for your next destination brings a heave of relief.

9. Middle of the Road -  Pretenders

“In the middle of the road you see the darnedest things.” We saw a buffalo. And a moose. Sure they were on the side of the road, but who am I to argue with Chrissy Hynde? What’s adventure anyway without mystery and surprise?

10. I’ve Been Everywhere - Johnny Cash

"Listen! I've traveled every road in this here land!" Obvious, sure. But so’s singing “Happy Birthday.” Johnny Cash backed by the Heartbreakers. Passenger energizer, if I ever heard one.

11. Honky Tonk Blues - Hank Williams (Sr., not Jr.; I not III)

“Well, I left my home down on the rural route.” Hank Williams should only be listened to in a car. And a bar, I guess. And your back porch. But never a mall! What is he -- some kinda chloroformed show pony tied to a kiosk outside Foot Locker? Get in the car and honky your horn for Hank.

12. Running Down a Dream - Tom Petty

What, no Heartbreakers? No. It’s from Tom’s first solo album. Well, Mike plays on it, of course. If Tom’s not on your playlist, are you even going anywhere?

How’s that? Twelve songs. That should at least get you to the highway, especially in this traffic. Feel free to exchange any or all these songs with songs you like. But please start your playlist with “Like a Rolling Stone.” Or the Diana Ross song. Or something by Maroon 5. What do I care?



Follow mike on instagramNot an actual library. Currently cataloguing: 1884 books. Sanctuary space for free thought. A bibliophile is a bibliomaniac who isn’t fooling anyone.

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