Friday, September 2, 2016

The 13 Best Obscure Road Trip Songs

Getting ready for a road trip? One of the best ways to stay awake and pass the time is have a good road trip mix tape at the ready. (Or a playlist if "mix tape" is too old fashioned for you.)

Unfortunately, most lists of road trip songs contain many of the same songs over and over again. (Like, "Life Is a Highway," "Runnin' Down a Dream," "Road to Nowhere," and "King of the Road.") These are great driving songs, but sometimes it helps to change things up a bit. Maybe try a few songs you aren't as familiar with.

It's time to get this car in motion!

Here are 13 of the best obscure road trip songs:
(All but one of the songs includes a link to a 30 second sample on, with an option to buy it if you like it.)

13. "Any Road"--George Harrison Sample lyrics: "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there."

This song is from Harrison's final album, Brainwashed, which was released in 2002, a few months after his death. It's a simple, catchy guitar tune, just uptempo enough to keep your toes tapping. (Just be sure not to tap on the gas pedal.)

Check it out on Amazon: Any Road

12. "Theme From 'Carjack Fever'"--Harvey Danger Sample lyrics: "You don't need a passport to know what state you're in."

Harvey Danger is mostly known for their one hit, 1998's "Flagpole Sitta" from the album "Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?" This song is from their next album, "King James Version." The song is called "Theme From 'Carjack Fever'" even though there is no movie or television show named "Carjack Fever" for it to be the theme of. (Harvey Danger just likes to mess with your mind.)

It's a hard-driving, fast-paced song full of guitars and an occasional scream. And it will make you want to drive faster than you already are.

Check it out on Amazon: Theme From "Carjack Fever"

11. "Red Cars Are After Me"--Roy Wood Sample lyrics: "Even though I try to act naturally, I know that red cars are after me."

Roy Wood was a founding member of the Electric Light Orchestra, and before that was a driving force behind the successful 60s' British band The Move. He left ELO after only one album, and never really enjoyed commercial success in the United States. This song is from his little-heard 1987 album "Starting Up."

The song itself squarely finds itself at the intersection of Paranoia and Groove.

Check it out on Amazon: Red Cars Are After Me

10. "Eight Hundred and Thirteen Mile Car Trip"--They Might Be Giants Sample lyrics: "Eight hundred and thirteen mile car trip. Four hundred and seventeen miles to go."

When most people think of They Might Be Giants, they think of accordions and silliness. And while there's certainly some silliness here, there is no accordion to be found, just hard-driving guitars and drums moving at a breakneck speed. (It's from their 2008 children's album titled "Here Come the 123s.")

Check it out on Amazon: Eight Hundred and Thirteen Mile Car Trip

9. "Long Line of Cars"--Cake Sample lyrics: "There's no single explanation; there's no central destination. But this long line of cars is trying to get through."

While this list is mostly about songs for driving out on the open road, occasionally road construction and/or rush hour will leave your crawling along at a snail's pace, bumper to bumper. "Long Line of Cars," from the 2001 album "Comfort Eagle," is the musical manifestation of those frustrating times.

Check it out on Amazon: Long Line of Cars

And this long line of cars....

8. "Nowhere Road"--Fastball Sample lyrics: "It don't matter what they say. You can't get there going this way."

Fastball's 1998 album, "All the Pain Money Can Buy," features the band's biggest hit, "The Way," which is an excellent driving song itself. ("Where were they going without ever knowing the way.") But, "Nowhere Road" has its own tale to tell, "from L.A. to Miami and all points in between."

Check it out on Amazon: Nowhere Road

7. "I'm In Love With My Car"--Queen Sample lyrics: "Told my girl I'll have to forget her. Rather buy me a new carburetor."

Written and sung by Queen's drummer, Roger Taylor, it's from the 1975 album "A Night At the Opera," and was the "B" side on the single for "Bohemian Rhapsody." This is a heartfelt love ode to our "four wheeled friends."

Check it out on Amazon: I'm In Love With My Car

6. "American Car"--Mike Doughty Sample lyrics: "I'm done with elephants and clowns. I want to run away and join the office."

This song comes from the former Soul Coughing frontman's 2005 solo album "Haughty Melodic." It features some nimble guitar work and clever lyrics about a "long, black, American car."

Check it out on Amazon: American Car

5. "Holiday Road"--Lindsay Buckingham Sample lyrics: "Jack be nimble. Jack be quick. Take a ride on the west coast kick."

This song is fairly well known from the soundtrack of the 1983 movie National Lampoon's Vacation, starring Chevy Chase. But, I'll still count it as obscure because it only made it to #82 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It's a great song for a drive to Wally World, Hollywood, or Dollywood, (Bonus points for the dog barking at the end of the song.)

Check it out on Amazon: Holiday Road

4. "Highway 40"--Brak and Freddie Prinze, Jr. Sample lyrics: "I'm driving down highway 40 in my big, old, pickup truck."

Brak first appeared as a villain on the Space Ghost cartoon show in 1966. The character was revived and revised as a goofy, fun-loving simpleton in the mid 1990s for the Cartoon Network shows Space Ghost Coast to Coast and Cartoon Planet. Eventually, Brak even got his own sitcom, The Brak Show, which aired on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim imprint in 2001.

The song "Highway 40" consists of one line of lyrics (quoted above) repeated over and over again. Amazingly, multiple versions of this simple song were recorded, the best of which features Brak singing it as a duet with actor Freddie Prinze, Jr.

Brak and Prinze sing the song using different voices, including as fishes, as monsters, and as Tom Brokaw. Some might find this very annoying. Others, including children of a certain age and adults with a juvenile sense of humor, will find it to be incredibly amusing.

Check it out on Amazon (Song preview unavailable, but here's a link to the album): Highway 40
(Here's a link to the song on YouTube: Highway 40 video.)

3. "Sausalito Summernight"--Diesel Sample lyrics: "Another mile or two to Frisco. 200 gallons from L.A. The engine's thumping like a disco, we ought to dump her in the bay."

Okay, so this one isn't as "obscure" as the other songs on this list. From the 1980 album "Watts In the Tank," it made it all the way to #25 on the Billboard Hot 100. But, it's not like you hear a lot of Diesel on anyone's playlists.

Besides the great guitar riff, what makes this a good road trip song is that no matter how bad your road trip might be going, it's got to be better than the road trip these guys are having. The radiator's running dry. They blew a gasket. The engine's thumping like a disco. They can't afford a blowout, 'cause they haven't got a spare!

Also of interest is that this song about an all-American, California road trip is sung by a rock group from the Netherlands. Diesel consists of some Dutch musicians with names like "Frank Papendrecht," "Rob Vunderink," and (best of all) "Pim Koopman," singing about root beer and the Golden Gate Bridge! (Yes, that name was "Pim Koopman.")

Check it out on Amazon: Sausalito Summernight

2. "Drive Faster"--The Vicksburgs Sample lyrics: "Gotta feel that wind blowing in her hair, and she's mine when I drive faster."

That Thing You Do! was a movie Tom Hanks made in 1996 about a one-hit-wonder rock band in the sixties. For the soundtrack of the movie, a bunch of songs were written to sound like the rock songs of that era. "Drive Faster" is one of those songs. It was written by Scott Rogness and Rick Elias, and performed by the fictional rock group The Vicksburgs.

Like most songs on the soundtrack, "Drive Faster" does an excellent job of capturing the feel of the time period, while also being a fun song to listen to. It's got a definite Beach Boys vibe to it, and it encourages both singing along and actually driving faster.

(The fact that That Thing You Do! didn't win the Academy Award for best song is one of the biggest travesties in Oscar history.)

Check it out on Amazon: Drive Faster

1. "Open Road Song"--Eve 6 Sample lyrics: "My pile shakes as I hit eighty on the open road. This is an open road song."

From "Eve 6," the band's self-titled 1998 album, "Open Road Song" is a perfect song for the open road. The furious fast pace of the guitars forces the foot down on the accelerator. And the image of a lonely driver racing down the road while singing along to a radio song is something to which we can all relate.

Check it out on Amazon: Open Road Song

Now, go get out on the road and drive!!!


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