Do You Have a Roadtrip Playlist?

 Road trip! This weekend. I’m excited. It’ll be nice to get away, and road trips are the best kind of getting away — there’s all that open road, good music, and your own thoughts to keep you company. While I’m packing the Pringles chips and Jack Links beef jerky, my husband works on oil changes and the all-important playlist.

We’ve come to realize how critical the playlists are to our trips. Whatever songs we choose seem to become the soundtrack for that moment – the background to all our memories of that certain stretch of road – so we choose wisely.

To this day, Van Morrison’s “Madame George” instantly brings me back to a certain curvy road (and heavy pine scent) of Tahoe. James Taylor’s “Carolina on My Mind” flashes me right to the highway near Oak Glen, and coming back with bagloads of fresh-picked apples, saltwater taffies, and three wiped-out kids in the back seat.

Some of the memories aren’t so great – Jason Mraz’s first album, unfortunately, now makes me think of the bridge and harbor leading to the oceanside hospital where I took my mother-in-law for chemo treatments for a year. But, on a brighter note, the Black Crowes make me think of her and my husband’s second-youngest brother when we caravanned to Vegas; my young brother-in-law had had a lucky winning streak at the blackjack tables, and whenever I hear “She Talks to Angels” I can see him slouched in the back seat with a big grin on his face, that desert horizon zipping past. …

So take me on a road trip down your memory lane – what songs do you associate with certain roads?

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8 thoughts on “Do You Have a Roadtrip Playlist?

  1. well for me, James Taylor is what we would have on most on our drives. Mostly though it was our trips to Oak Glen and our drives to Rancho EVERY weekend while we dreamt that one day we might actually be lucky enough to live there-all James Taylor for those trips. Our drives up the coast and all trips to Lake Tahoe are Van Morrison territory. And when Laurie was attending UCLA I drove up every weekend to visit and and there was nothing else on my cassette player but Don Henley’s “Building the perfect beast.” And lastly, any Christmas time driving belongs to Ray Charles and his “This time of year” Christmas album.

  2. I like to have songs related to travel or being in the car, so here are my top picks:

    * Summerland by Everclear
    * Beautiful Disaster by Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers
    * Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf
    * Silent All These Years by Tori Amos
    * There’s a Barbarian in the Back of My Car by Voice of the Beehive
    * Car Song by Elastica
    * Ready to Go by Republica
    * Dune Buggy by Presidents of the United States of America

    I have others, but those are the ones I could think of off the top of my head.

  3. Chris — Yes, there do seem to be certain “territories”! And Tahoe is definitely Van Morrison “territory.” Love him. And Ray Charles and “This Time of Year” … gosh, I can get that “Christmas feeling” in my chest just by imagining that song right now. Strong.

    Jennifer — Welcome! And I love your playlist! I love having songs related to travel or being in the car. (Wouldn’t that make a great gift? hmmmm …) I’m going to go find some of those you listed. Thanks so much!

  4. Oh my goodness. Where to begin. I love music, L-O-V-E it! I’ve got soundtracks for all of life’s moments and in-betweens.

    My musical taste definitely leans towards electronic music so I doubt any of your readers would know Jazzanova, Nortec Collective, Future Sound of London, Fila Brazilia or Thievery Corporation. So, pains me as it does, I will skip over those.

    All of my road trips have been through deserts and wide open Texas country. So, the sweeping vistas inspire me to listen to sweeping, and serene, orchestral pieces by composers such as Ravel, Satie and Debussy. Wow, I just realized I really like French composers.

    But, I love opera too. When I moved to Dallas from Santa Monica 5 years ago (can you believe it has been 5 years???) I listened to Montserrat Figueras for hours as I drove through New Mexico. It was perfect.

    Jazz is another open road favorite for me. I love the soothing saxophone of John Coltrane, the emotional trumpet of Miles Davis and I cannot live without the soulful vocals of Billie Holiday, let alone drive. When Billie sings “Blue Moon, “Long Ago and Far Away”, and “I’ll Be Seeing You” those are the few rare moments where the scenery becomes the background for the music and not the other way around.

    Lastly, I cannot think of a long drive I have made in the past 15 years that didn’t include music by Bjork. She is an amazing vocalist. Simply brilliant.

    I could drive every mile of highway in this great country and never run out of tunes to keep me moving and grooving. I’ve even got a playlist on iTunes for checking email and web surfing. Now playing: DJ Cam, “Summer in Paris”.

  5. Dave — And Kelly Willis, right? : )

    Thanks for all the great info! I can imagine how many of those songs would make the drive feel like you’re coasting into movie credits. …

    Does your soundtrack change when you’re in suburban California vs. wide-open Texas?

  6. Kelly Willis indeed!

    The soundtrack definitely changes when I am in congested SoCal. With the stop and go traffic and so many darn cars on the road I find I need more aural stimulation so I wind up going with KCRW which is the NPR station out of Santa Monica. KCRW has a variety of programming that holds my attention and keeps me from getting too frustrated with traffic. That said, if I can avoid driving in Southern California then that is is music to my ears. 🙂

  7. Well, I don’t know about road trip playlists – my husband always has the sirius radio on and there is a wide variety to listen to there. I do enjoy my “life” playlist (if that makes sense) – I love remembering the people in my life and all the memories when I hear certain songs…I always think of you Laurie when I hear the Eagles!

  8. Oh, thanks, Debi! I STILL love the Eagles! : ) Elton John’s “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” reminds me of you — I can remember you singing that when we were about 13, and I always thought you sang so beautifully!

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