I grew up in the "classic rock" era, but I love music of every genre. I love sharing my old favorites while still discovering new artists.
Road Trippin' Oldies Songs
This list of road trippin' oldies songs was made with Baby Boomers in mind. There is no rhyme or reason for the order of these songs. That's just the way the list turned out.
- "Long Lonesome Highway"–Michael Parks
- "King of the Road"–Rodger Miller
- "Turn the Page"–Bob Seger
- "Born to be Wild"–Steppenwolf
- "Truckin'"–Grateful Dead
- "The Load Out/Stay"–Jackson Browne
- "Ramblin Man"–Allman Brothers
- "Green Onions"–Booker T and the MGs
- "On the Road Again"–Canned Heat
1. "Long Lonesome Highway" –Michael Parks
You may remember this song from the TV series Then Came Bronson. It always evokes an image of freedom for me. Bronson traveled from to town on his Harley, just following the road, wherever it might lead him.
The song was the closing vocal theme, played while the credits rolled. It was written and composed by James Hendricks and sung by Michael Parks, who also played Bronson in the show. The song reached #20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970.
2. "King of the Road" –Rodger Miller
"King of the Road" is an oldie but a goodie; I always loved it. Initially recorded in 1964 by country singer Rodger Miller, it was a crossover hit charting at #1 on the US Country chart and #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song is from the point of view of a poor vagabond. Even though he describes himself as a "man of means by no means," it's a cheerful song, and he seems to relish the freedom of the open road.
3. "Turn the Page" –Bob Seger
Whenever I hear it, I think about my brothers in the early 70s. They had long hair, and we'd moved to a kind of red-neck mountain town. People working in stores and restaurants would refer to them as her and she. It was more subtle than the incident at the truck stop Seger described and not threatening. It was just a little jab. A sign of the attitude people had back then.
Bob Seger first released this song in 1973 on his album, Back in '72. Seger's live version on the 1976 Live Bullet album has become a favorite on classic rock radio.
I heard the Metallica version of "Turn the Page" on the radio in my car the other day. It's pretty good, but I like Bob Seger's version way better. I can't believe they are playing Metallica on an oldies rock station. Where does the time go?
4. "Born to be Wild" –Steppenwolf
What oldies road song list would be complete without this one?
"Born to Be Wild" was written originally written as a ballad by Mars Bonfire. He was a member of the band, The Sparrows, which later became Steppenwolf.
When Steppenwolf recorded it, they rearranged the song and sped it up, transforming it into the roaring rock anthem that we know and love.
Probably because of its connection with the movie Easy Rider, the song is often associated with bikers or the biker lifestyle. Some describe it as the first Heavy Metal song, perhaps due to the phrase in the second verse, "heavy metal thunder." I am not an expert on that subject, so you be the judge.
5. "Truckin'" –Grateful Dead
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I think that line in the refrain, "What a long, strange trip it's been," resonated with of lot of us baby boomers. Phil Lesh said, "the last chorus defines the band itself," but I think it defines a lot of us too. I know my trip has been long and strange, how about yours?
"Truckin'" made its debut on the 1970 album American Beauty. All four of the main songwriters in the band, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, and lyricist Robert Hunter, participated in the writing of it.
6. "The Load Out/Stay" –Jackson Browne
Jackson Browne co-wrote "The Load-Out" and featured it on his 1977 album, Running on Empty.
The song describes life on the road for a band. The long hours passed the time on the bus, and then that short time on stage, doing what they came to do. He wrote it as a tribute to his roadies and his audience. The song was recorded live at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland.
"The Load-Out" fades into an interpretation of Maurice Williams' 1960 hit "Stay," sung by Browne, Rosemary Butler, and David Lindley. "The Load-Out" and "Stay" are usually played together.
The charting on these songs is a little complicated since "The Load Out" and "Stay" were treated as two separate songs, with "Stay" being the more popular, but kind of dragging "The Load Out" along with it. Eventually, they were listed together, and as a pair, they peaked at #20. "Stay" stayed on the Hot 100 for a total of fifteen weeks.
I snagged the following from a comment on the YouTube video featured below. It's such a great story; I just had to include it here.
"King OfUtah 4 years ago
+N8VSON I have talked to people who were at THIS, the original recording, half the crowd had left, the roadies were actually packing equipment, none of them knew this song had been written. When the song started playing, people kinda started milling back in; the road crew were almost in tears from being recognized. The crowd you hear clapping were clapping for the roadies. That is the video I would like to have seen. But it does not appear to exist. If only we could send one i Phone back to the first time it was played...sigh."
7. "Ramblin Man" –Allman Brothers
The Allman Brothers Band included "Ramblin' Man" on their 1973 album, Brothers and Sisters. The song was written and sung by Dickey Betts, and inspired by a Hank Williams song of the same name.
The group was at first reluctant to record it, considering it too country. They need not have worried; it became their biggest hit, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
8. "Green Onions"–Booker T and the MGs
Everyone knows this song, but nobody knows the name of it. "Green Onions" is an instrumental song by Booker T. & the MG's, and this song just says "boogie down the highway" to me.
Booker T. Jones was the keyboard player for the house band of Stax Record. In 1962, the owner of Stax Jim Stewart wanted to record another song, "Behave Yourself." They needed a B-side for the record. Using a jam the band had been playing around with, they came up with a song that became "Green Onions."
When a DJ on a Memphis radio station, WOLK, played "Green Onions" on air public reaction was so positive, the song was re-released as an A-side.
The song was originally called "Funky Onions," it was renamed "Green Onions." When he was asked about the name of the song, Jones said, "That is the nastiest thing I can think of, and it's something you throw away."
I'm glad they didn't throw it away; I love this song.
9. "On the Road Again" –Canned Heat
I bet this is not the "On the Road Again" you were expecting! Of course, I love Willie Nelson and his song, but you don't need me to tell you about it.
If you're an old hippie, I'm sure you know this song too, but maybe you need a little reminder.
"On the Road Again" first appeared on Canned Heat's second album, Boogie with Canned Heat, in 1968. An edited version was released as a single the same year. "On the Road Again" was Canned Heat's first record chart hit and one of their best-known songs.
The blues-rock song was adapted from earlier blues songs. The mid-1960s psychedelic rock elements made it a counter-culture favorite. Second guitarist and harmonica player Alan Wilson provided the familiar falsetto vocal.
Songs on a Long and Lonesome Highway
Whether you're heading out on the highway, or just taking an mental road trip from the couch, I hope you enjoy my road trippin' list.
© 2019 Sherry Hewins
Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on September 14, 2019:
Hadn't heard that Load-out/Stay thing in forever. Although I've known the song for forever, I don't think I'd know what words to use to search for and find it.
So thanks for remembering that to me.
Roger Miller probably doesn't get enough remembrance or recognition these days. Well dang me, ought to get a rope and hang me, I reckon so.
Dianna Mendez on September 09, 2019:
What a fun list of cruisin songs! I remember hearing On The Road Again often when it was at the top of the list.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 24, 2019:
This is a good list for baby boomers like me. My brother used to play the guitar and we often sang "King of the Road" together. He had a beautiful voice.