There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who sing along to music and those who don’t. I am completely unashamedly in the first category, and I tend to find those who just sit and listen to music weird. Especially when it comes to listening to music in the car: I go wild. I don’t just sing; I shout the lyrics over the pumped-up volume and air-drum (which is weird, since I have never been able to figure out how to play the drums). It pains me to get into my car every day, as I have long since blown out my speakers and cannot listen to music at any reasonable volume (by reasonable I mean insanely loud). But every few days I have to take a delivery while I’m at work and I get to take my boss’s car and it has a fantastically loud sound system. Driving songs, for me at least, are ones that are fast, fun, and meant to be played as loud as possible. You want the windows down, you want the wind whipping through the car, you want the bass pumping and the guitars screeching. You want to be going fast, you want the roads to be empty. You basically want to be in Easy Rider, except instead of Steppenwolf you want something much more. Don’t worry, my friend, I’ve got you covered.
“Wake Up” by Arcade Fire
It’s expansive. It’s gorgeous. It’s happy and light and it’s super easy to sing along to. It has everything you want in a song to open up a new drive. This song somehow always pops up on my morning drive in my boss’s car. I think its brilliance comes in its simplicity – it’s a simple guitar line, played with the perfect amount of distortion. Sure, there’s a lot of instrumentation going on, but nothing is distracting. It just flows so well. And the lyrics, about childhood slipping away, are just perfect to shout out to the world through your open windows. And of course, it has the ubiquitous Arcade Fire end-of-song tempo change. (Side note: this is the song that caused the speakers in my car to blow out.)
“The Midnight Special” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
For me, this song is cruising down a country road, dust flying out from behind your tires, in a car with bench seats and lap belts, pulling swigs from a bottle of Jack with your drinking buddy at your side. It’s a roof slapping, toe tapping, hand clapping good ol’ time. Basically, it’s the opening scene to the Twilight Zone movie (1983). Of course, sans the scare.
“A Bar in Amsterdam” by Katzenjammer
Oh, this song just makes want to drive fast. Really fast, like irresponsibly fast. If I ever got into a car chase with the cops, I may have to put this song on. It’s so frenetic. The way I like to describe this band to someone who hasn’t heard them is as if the Dixie Chicks had a baby with Satan which was then raised in a carnival. In Hell. The Hell Carnival is way cooler than your lame ass carnival.
“I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys
This, for you faithful readers and friends out there, is not a song I’m expected to like. Maybe it’s because I like The Departed so much. Maybe it’s that insane drum line during the verses (they are truly ridiculous, right?). I don’t know. I normally hate punk music, especially the Irish tinged types. And I don’t tend to like Boston, either. But man, you put this on driving around the beltway and all the annoyances of driving (like getting stuck in traffic while driving a stick shift [aka, my personal hell]) just melt away. Sometimes you need a really angry song to get you through your daily commute.
“I’m On A Boat” by The Lonely Island featuring T-Pain
Randall Monroe of the webcomic XKCD had this to say about rap music:
And let’s be honest: It’s true. And this song sounds fucking awesome going 90 mph, and for added bonus, it’s on a list of driving songs and it’s a nautically-themed song. Also, T-Pain is hilarious.
(Note: Comic used without express permission but it and other many wonderful strips can be found at xkcd.com )