It’s May already! Here in Florida, the temperatures are reaching 90 on any given day, and everyone is beginning to break out those bikinis and pale, winter skin. In the next few months, I will be hitting the pavement with my surfboard, a cooler, and some good friends. From beach days to trips around the country, here is the road trip playlist that will guide them all.
1. Sister Golden Hair- America
This will always be the quintessential road trip song, in my opinion. The easy-going beat, soft vocals, and southern-sounding lyrics are the audio equivalent of a country road–cruising slowly, windows down, music blasting, while your hair blows in the wind.
America captures every ’70s road trip perfectly in this song, so for a bit of “blast to the past,” check out Sister Golden Hair, along with most of the other songs America has sung, including Ventura Highway, which appears later down this list.
2. Someday- The Strokes
Ah, The Strokes. This song has accompanied me on multiple trips, and will always be a personal favorite of mine. The soft beat and incorporation of almost scratchy vocals adds a bit of alternative flavor to the playlist.
Hearing this song just makes me want to get up and go, singing at the top of my lungs all the while. Many of The Stokes songs tend to sound the same, but this is the best in terms of convincing you to hit the road, now. As they so eloquently put it, “oh, someday… I ain’t wasting no more time.”
3. The Cave- Mumford and Sons
Mumford and Sons always add a folky vibe to any playlist. This song is one of my favorites, because it seems to be based on the Allegory of the Cave, a short story written by Plato. Basically, men are chained inside of a cave for their entire lives, all they are allowed to see are shadows cast against the wall of the cave, evidently caused by a flame in another part of it. All that exists in their world are these shadows, therefore, they assume the world they live in is the world in its entirety.
Eventually, one of the men is set free and dragged out of the cave, into the sunlight. At first, he is blinded, but then he can see the beauty all around him, the world that exists outside of the darkness of the cave.
When the same man re-enters the cave, all he sees is darkness at first. To the other prisoners, it would seem that he lost his sight, and that he was unable to see “the world” that existed among them. Therefore, none of them would want to exit the cave. The man who saw the light, however, would understand that there is an entire world that the others did not and could not experience.
Basically, this is a metaphor for knowledge. The prisoners in the darkness of the cave could only see what had existed in their world, while the man who was set free understood so much more than them.
After learning about the meaning of the song itself, I enjoy it so much more. Check out The Allegory of the Cave, if you are interested, it’s a pretty short read, and well worth it.
4. Ventura Highway- America
“Cause the free wind is blowin’ through your hair, and the days surround your daylight there.”
This song just gives the illusion of a peaceful highway, riding down the road, and enjoying your friend’s company. The acoustic guitar picking, and easy-going melody just add to the beauty it.
5. Snap Out Of It- Arctic Monkeys
Since every playlist needs at least one Arctic Monkeys song, here it is. The eclectic background vocals, along with the odd lyrics combine to create a hit that messes with your mind.
“Forever isn’t for everyone… is forever for you? It sounds like settling down, or giving up, but it don’t sound much like you, girl.”
This song makes me imagine a guy who is interested in a girl who is suddenly “in love” with someone, and he doesn’t think that it will last. He sees her as the type to not stick with one certain thing, or person for “forever”. But he also says that he will be waiting for her to “snap out of it”, referring to a kind of spell that her lover has put her under.
6. Roses- The Chainsmokers
This song brings me back to every late Saturday night, every lost love, and every party I’ve ever been to. Experiencing love in all of its forms, with every person I’ve ever cared for.
“Say you’ll never let me go,” the lyrics say, as she seems to be reminiscing on all of the times she had with the person she loved. Late nights, warm days, and all of the experiences she shared with that person in particular fill the song.
This is a good song for road trips, especially solo ones, because it gives you time to think about your own life, and everyone that you’ve ever loved.
7. Mr. Brightside- The Killers
I think every 20-something has distinct memories connected to this song. I was at a concert a few months ago, and Judah & The Lion did a cover of this song, and the audience just went crazy. Judah mentioned how much of a special place the song had in his heart, and it was a really beautiful show.
It was evident how much the song meant individually to everyone around me, but we were able to connect to one another as well through our love for music. Moments like this really make me appreciate the power music has to connect hundreds and thousands of people instantly.
Take time to think about all of the memories that you have connected to this song, and any others that you love, and you’ll appreciate the music 10x more.
8. Novocaine- Fall Out Boy
I remember the exact day that I heard this song for the first time. It was actually at a Fall Out Boy concert, and I wasn’t familiar with all of their music (don’t worry, I am now). The second I heard those catchy lyrics, I knew it would instantly become a favorite of mine.
I wasn’t wrong. Now, a year later, I listen to it pretty often and remember that night like it was yesterday.
9. Time to Pretend- MGMT
I was probably 11 or 12 when I first heard “Kids” by MGMT, and it became a favorite of mine. Now, after listening to a good amount of their music, I’ve fallen in love Time to Pretend, because I feel like it describes where I’m at in my life. I’m looking for a way to live that isn’t your everyday 9-5 job, but I’m also at a loss for what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.
I understand that at my age, I’m basically at the “time of my life”, but I have no real direction on where I’m going.
“Yeah its overwhelming, but what else can we do? Get jobs in offices and wake up for the morning news?”
10. Gold Medal Ribbon- Pierce the Veil
This song is really catchy, and it throws a bit of pop punk onto the playlist. A close friend of mine is in love with Pierce the Veil, and this is the first song that I ever heard by them, so I have a lot memories connected to it. I love the catchy beat, and interesting guitar riffs.
The ability that music has to connect us all is amazing. For even more success with this song on your road trip, share it with someone you love.
“I swear that I can hear you in the wind, you’re singing to me. And you’re dancing in the halls outside again, and I’m always listening.”
11. Lost in My Mind- The Head and the Heart
With warm lyrics and an easy beat, this song is a folky reminder to appreciate those you love. Traveling through small towns and big cities alike, this song is basically a metaphor for life itself. Working and living and seeing beauty all around while you building an empire from the clay.
“How’s that brick laying coming? How’s your engine running? Is that bridge getting built? Are your hands being filled?” He asks a lot of questions, almost as if checking up on the people living the small-town life, working and earning a living.
12. Mary Jane’s Last Dance- Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
With the incorporation of the harmonica, along with the southern vocals, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers truly reached their height with this song. It flows smoothly, and it’s familiarity is heart-warming, almost like an old childhood memory that you love.
This song brings to mind campfires, Volkswagens, and all of the other ’70s memorabilia. Hopefully, your trip will be filled with some of it.
13. Going to California- Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin is a welcome addition to any playlist, but this song in particular is about traveling, which makes it even better. This is one of his softer hits, and it’s a reminder of the simple life, and how beautiful it can be.
It also has a very “hippie” element to it, “the mountains and the canyons start to tremble and shake, as the children of the sun begin to wake [watch out].” The exiting vocals are very nice as well, a warm reminder of the world around you, and its potential.
14. Carry on Wayward Son- Kansas
Okay, I might be bit subjective to this song because of its appearance on Supernatural. But to all Supernatural fans, it’s easily understandable why this song appears on this playlist. It’s THE road trip song!
If you aren’t a fan of Supernatural, you’re definitely missing out. But even so, the lyrics and catchy beat are enough to make this song a welcome addition to anyone’s playlist.
15. Burnin’ for You- Blue Oyster Cult
As one of my favorite songs, Burnin’ for You had to make an appearance on this playlist. Aside from the beat that draws listeners and awesome guitar solos, the lyrics carry a very nice meaning as well.
Obviously, the song is about love, but more than that, it’s about finding a home wherever you are. I feel like this translates well to road trips, because making the world around you into your home is important. To me, trying to find a home no matter where I am is an important part of appreciating nature and finding love and peace wherever I go.
16. The Less I Know the Better- Tame Impala
I have some interesting memories connected to this song. The lyrics somehow manage to make me both happy and sad at the same time, and I think that’s why I like them so much.
“I was doing fine without you, ’til I saw your face,” gives me hope for my own future, and finding love with someone almost comfortably. Doing fine on my own, but knowing once I have found my “person”, that I won’t want to live without them.
17. Happiness- Pet Shop Boys
This song is so weird. I don’t say that as an insult, either. It’s electronic, catchy, and carries an oddly hipster vibe to it. The lyrics are true too, it is a long way to happiness.
This song is one of my favorites for road trips, because of the warm vibe that it carries. The electronic sound is pretty refreshing, and EDM is always fun to listen to.
18. Dani California- Red Hot Chili Peppers
What’s a true road trip playlist without the Chili Peppers and their constant references to California? Exactly.
Though all of their songs are pretty darn awesome, this one puts the icing on the cake. I feel like I relate to Dani California in some ways (okay, a lot of ways), but I also think that’s the point. We’re all Dani California somehow, in our own ways, and that’s what makes the song so awesome.
19. All Along the Watchtower- Jimi Hendrix
Hendrix, of course, takes the cake for good vibes. The late rocker was committed to bringing peace wherever he went, and with it, he brought beauty. For some reason, the two tend to go hand in hand.
This song serves as a reminder to be like Hendrix, and spread love no matter where your journey takes you. Whether it be new countries, familiar oceans, or your own hometown, go with peace and love, and the journey will always be worth it.
20. Peaceful Easy Feeling- The Eagles
As the title says, this song brings a “peaceful easy feeling” with its’ acoustic sound and warm vocals. This song will always be on my road trip playlists, because of its’ comforting sound that reminds me of home even when I’m far away. I say “home” lightly, because I see the world as my home, but it’s easy to forget sometimes, and when I do need reminding, this song does the job.
21. Someday We’ll Know- New Radicals
This song makes me want to cry and smile at the same time, honestly, but it also makes me think. He asks so many questions, with the only answer being, “someday we’ll know”. I feel like there’s a true comfort with the acceptance that no, we don’t know all of the answers, but someday, we will.
22. Ways To Go- Grouplove
Grouplove is an awesome band. I was actually planning to see them about two months ago, but the show was cancelled due to the lead singer having issues with her vocals. This song has made an appearance on many of the playlists that I make for other people, as well as some that I make for myself.
I have a really great memory connected to this song of New Year’s Eve with some close friends, riding around our small town with the windows down and music blasting. Now, that memory just makes the song even better.
23. Famous Last Words- My Chemical Romance
I think everyone has had a weird emo phase at one point or another (think: middle school?) but even when it’s over, it’s never truly over. Try to pretend that this song doesn’t make you want to scream the lyrics at the top of your lungs still./.
That’s what I thought.
24. The Diary of Jane- Breaking Benjamin
Now Breaking Benjamin is one of the greatest rock bands out there, but there’s just something about blaring “The Diary of Jane” while riding with the windows down.
It’s basically an anthem.
If you’re anything like me, you get very into the song. (Think: Can you be the drummer, lead singer, background vocalist, guitarist, and bass player at the same time?)
Yes. Yes, you can.
25. Sun- Two Door Cinema Club
Two Door Cinema Club is a great band altogether, but this song truly takes the cake. With a beachy vibe that captures listeners instantly, it’s definitely a hit for those long road trips. How could you get bored while listening to a song like this?
So there you have it, a road tripping playlist that covers *nearly* everything you would ever need.
What do you think? What would go on your all-time road tripping playlist?
RARA’s Farm is a rock music blog keenly focused on sharing killer rock music news to the rock music fans who visit our site. Make sure you Like / Follow Us below to keep in the loop on new music worth a listen, or just to be nice to us.