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52 Songs About Road Trips

FlourishAnyway believes there is a playlist for just about any situation and is on a mission to unite and entertain the world through song.

Enjoy the journey as much as the destination with a playlist of pop, rock, country, & R&B songs about road trips.

Enjoy the journey as much as the destination with a playlist of pop, rock, country, & R&B songs about road trips.

Road Trips Are for Making Memories

After being cooped up way too long due to the pandemic, I feel a serious road trip coming on. I'm ready to grab my family and hop a plane to some far flung location (stateside, of course). We'll rent a car and hit the wide open roads, heading into a part of the country we've never seen. Nature, kitschy roadside attractions, and museums are calling my name. Of course, there's always a little bickering because of being in such close quarters with travel mates 24/7, but that adds to the texture of the experience. Road trips are memory makers, and we'll be talking about this trip for years.

To get ready for this road trip, I've assembled a playlist of pop, rock, and country songs about hitting the road. Celebrate over-the-road journeys with this special group of songs on the subject. Go make some memories of your own!

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1. "On the Road Again" by Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson's iconic country-pop crossover "On the Road Again" is a genuine road trip anthem. The 1980 tune was named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time." Also honored as a Grammy Hall of Fame song, it is about life on tour with a band of music-making buddies who are best friends. Good ol' Willie wrote the famous ditty during a flight on a barf bag.

2. "Life Is a Highway" by Tom Cochrane

Press that pedal to the medal and don't fear the twists, turns, and bumps in the road that life throws your way. This high octane 1991 rock song was inspired by the Canadian singer's humanitarian trip to West Africa. The narrator describes life as a wild and unpredictable long-distance journey with no pit stops. Resilient and high in endurance, he invites a partner to drive with him until the road ends.

3. "Free" by Zac Brown Band

The couple in this 2010 country-pop crossover song seem to be living in the wrong decade. They're modern-day hippies, happy even though they don't have a lot of money. Happy nomads, the two lovers travel around the country, live in their van, and dream about ending up together on the beach somewhere.

Zac Brown wrote this song after he and his band climbed Mount Warning in Australia's eastern coastal area of New South Wales and were gobsmacked by its beauty and tranquility. The first point on the Australian mainland on which one can see the sun each day, the summit is also known as Wollumbin by the local aboriginal people. They view it as a highly significant, sacred natural space. Although the indigenous people request that the public reconsider climbing, as many as 60,000 people annually have historically made the ascent, typically at sunrise.

4. "Talladega" by Eric Church

There are some opportunities that only come around once, and for the five good buddies in this fun 2014 country single it was a road trip following graduation. Real life—careers, then marriage, mortgages, and kids—could wait for them to share this bonding experience. One of their fathers let them use an old Winnebago if they got it running, so together the five guys headed off to Talladega Superspeedway on a road trip. Memories they made lasted a lifetime, no doubt.

5. "Freeway of Love" by Aretha Franklin

When legendary R&B artist Aretha Franklin and a partner take a rowdy road trip down the freeway of love, this Grammy Award-winning 1985 R&B-pop crossover hit raises the pulse as well as eyebrows. After issuing an invitation to her lover to have sex (or "take a ride in my machine") the narrator mentions her pink Cadillac; it is a veiled reference to her lady parts. (Are you blushing?) Together the two road-trippers subsequently embark on an ecstasy-filled drive down the freeway of love, merging for peace, before finally getting off on the joy and satisfaction exit.

6. "Heads Carolina, Tails California" by Jo Dee Messina

Determined to outrun bad luck, the gutsy lady in this uptempo 1996 country song urges her sweetheart to pack everything they own and head out of town for "somewhere greener, somewhere warmer." Although she mentions a couple of far-flung places where they have family, she's also open to just driving for several hundred miles and then taking a look at the map. Better yet, they could flip for a destination: heads Carolina, tails California. Sometimes you have to make a change and just go for it!

7. "Anywhere" by Rita Ora

There comes a point when you've had it and just need to get away. Tired of Los Angeles, the woman in this 2017 electronic dance-pop ditty implores her partner to take her on a road trip "over the hills and far away." She doesn't care where they go on vacation. She just wants to get away together somewhere with her lover where they'll be anonymous and face new adventures.

8. "Going Up the Country" by Canned Heat

This groovy rock tune from 1968 is unusual for popular music in that it features that awesome flute player jamming out. (As a former flute player myself, I love that.) The hippie anthem was played at Woodstock in 1969 and describes the desire to leave the city and the conflict to commune with the trees, flowers, and wide open spaces of the countryside.

The narrator extends an invitation to his friend come along ("I'm goin' up the country, babe, don't you wanna go?") and suggests they may even leave the US, not sure. Some people at the time associated this controversial line with heading to the Canadian border for draft-dodging purposes.

9. "Make It Sweet" by Old Dominion

The daily grind of living and pressure of keeping up with the Joneses too often overshadows what really matters, according to the man in this perky 2018 country song. He enthusiastically reaffirms his commitment to his love interest and encourages her to escape with him on a road trip so they can rejuvenate and recharge. Enjoy the small moments and the here and now because life is fleeting and unpredictable.

10. "Ride" by Lana Del Rey

The haunting desperation of Lana Del Rey is on full display in this soulful 2012 pop song about a drifter. The narrator is insecure and unstable, spending her days drinking and talking until dark. Having acquired her vagabond lifestyle from her father, the lonely lady has daddy issues and seeks solace from various older men. She embodies the "live hard, die young" mentality and is on both a psychological and over-the-road quest to find what she's been missing. When she repeatedly comes up empty, all she can do is continue riding.

One of the original highways in the US, Route 66 originally ran 2,448 miles from Chicago through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, with an end point in Santa Monica, California.

One of the original highways in the US, Route 66 originally ran 2,448 miles from Chicago through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, with an end point in Santa Monica, California.

11. "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" by Nat King Cole

Route 66 was the first major highway in the US. The roadway preceded the modern interstate system and extended 2,466 miles from Chicago to L.A. by way of Oklahoma and other southwestern states. Route 66 became a flight of passage during the Great Depression as people migrated westward. Some sought economic prosperity in California while others sought mere survival.

This 1946 R&B tune commemorates the famous scenic route and name drops the following locations along the lengthy highway:

St. Louis; Joplin, Missouri; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Amarillo, Texas; Gallup, New Mexico; Flagstaff, Arizona; Winona, Arizona; Kingman, Arizona; Barstow, California; San Bernardino, California.

12. "Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi

The young buck in this 1987 glam metal song is certainly feeling his oats. It's not enough that he's a rock star living a life on tour and playing to sold out stadiums. (Many people would love to trade places with him, am I right?) The cocky narrator depicts himself as a figurative cowboy riding a steel horse (his tour bus) from city to city. As he does so, the musician drinks heavily and fails to sleep for days at a time. A guitar is strapped to his back as he prepares to execute his mission, and with as much self-pity as bravado, he claims that he's wanted by fans dead or alive and might not make it back.

Bon Jovi has claimed that this hit is the band's anthem. In writing the song, Jon Bon Jovi envisioned the band's life on tour as being like "a young band of thieves, riding into town, stealing the money, the girls, and the booze before the sun came up."

13. "Wagon Wheel" by Darius Rucker

Displaced Southerners often feel the pull to return home to the beauty, warmth, and hospitality of where they grew up. The man in this 2013 country-pop crossover ditty is a hitchhiker who makes his way down the east coast of the United States from New England, through Roanoke, Virginia, with a final destination of Raleigh, North Carolina. The narrator's only problem seems to his lack of geographical knowledge, but we'll forgive him of that. You see, you can’t go west from the Cumberland Gap to Johnson City, TN as his lyrics suggest ("Caught a trucker out of Philly had a nice long toke / But he’s a heading west from the Cumberland Gap to Johnson City, Tennessee." You can only head east.

The narrator is a fiddler and banjo player who yearns to leave the north country winters behind and reunite with his guitar-playing sweetheart. He paints a picture of the loving that they'll be doing when they are together again:

So, rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama any way you feel
Hey ... mama rock me
Yeah, rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a southbound train
Hey ... mama rock me.

This contagious refrain was originally written by Bob Dylan in 1973, and the rest of the song was completed by Old Crow Medicine Show who first released the tune in 2004.

14. "Take It Easy" by Eagles

This chill 1972 rock traveling song features a man who daydreams about the ladies he knows as he traverses the highway alone. When he stops in the Arizona town of Winslow, his self-confidence is buoyed further by the flirtations of a female stranger. The narrator advocates not taking yourself too seriously and just enjoying life while you still can.

This influential hit song appeared on the Eagles' eponymous, debut album. "Take It Easy" was named as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. It is one of the Eagles' signature songs.

15. "Highway to Hell" by AC/DC

Perhaps you interpret this 1979 metal tune as being about a lost soul on his way to hell via an easy living, free lovin' lifestyle. Partying hard, he's unashamed and barreling ahead full throttle for Satan's eternal playground. Although you could see it that way, what actually inspired the song was the Canning Highway in Australia. At the end of the freeway is a dramatic decline: "No stop signs / speed limits / nobody gonna slow me down." At the bottom was a favorite party spot, a 1970s rock and roll hole in the wall bar called The Raffles. Many people were killed driving too fast on the approach to the pub.

Vocalist Bon Scott was a regular at the pub and drank himself to death, dying six months after this song was released. "Highway to Hell" was named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time." This classic hard rock tune is also part of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll."

16. "Everyday Is a Winding Road" by Sheryl Crow

Feeling like her life has spun out of control, the lonely, uptight woman in this 1996 pop song has been subsisting on cigarettes and coffee. She wonders if her life merely consists of her less-than-perfect life choices. Rather than getting bummed out about where she is in her life, she searches for meaning.

The song describes a metaphoric road trip with a vending machine repairman who helps her to intellectualize issues and encourages her to relax and accept herself more. Sheryl Crow wrote this song after hearing the words another musician uttered when he quit his band: "Every day is a winding road, mate. It's time for me to veer off."

17. "Gone West" by Gone West

The band Gone West, consisting of country pop singer Colbie Calliat and three other experienced music insiders, was active for only a hot minute before disbanding in 2020. Calliat's broken engagement to another member of the band ended their musical collaboration as well. While Gone West was active, they had one Top 40 country hit. Their self-named song is about a westward bound road trekker who speaks of finding fame and fortune in California, the magnificent canyons of the southwest, and the wild horses of Texas.

18. "Ride Like the Wind" by Christopher Cross

A convicted murderer on a different kind of road trip is the subject of this 1980 soft rock track. The song narrator is the son of a lawless man, and having repeated his father's mistakes, the miscreant now finds himself sentenced to hang for his crimes. Somehow managing to escape his jailers, the armed criminal flees for his life in an attempt to evade the long arm of the law. He rides like the wind, fueled by pure adrenaline, and runs for the border of Mexico.

Criminals have long seen crossing the Mexican border as a solution for their legal troubles. In Mexico, outlaws and ne'er-do-wells were traditionally safely outside US law enforcement's circle of influence. That changed, however in 1978, when the two countries signed a bilateral extradition treaty.

19. "Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen

Although Mary is no beauty and the narrator admits to being no hero, the young couple in this classic 1975 rock tune has "one last chance to make it real" by taking to the road together. They are two lonely people, one running from the ghosts of her past and the other seeking a brighter future with his guitar. Better days, however, are not possible in this hometown. They won't happen unless they hit the road. "Thunder Road" is listed on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time."

20. "I've Been Everywhere" by Johnny Cash

The rambling man in this peppy country tune is on a road trip and rattles off an exhaustive bunch of places to prove what an experienced traveler he is. But did you know that "I've Been Everywhere" started off as an Australian ditty (with Australian locations featured, of course)? The tune was then covered by several American country artists, including Hank Snow in 1962, who took it to number one.

I associate it most, however, with Johnny Cash who recorded it in 1996, backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The Man in Black quickly fires off 91 North American locations in four verses, sounding almost like an auctioneer he's so fast. Modified versions of the song exist for other places by other artists, including New Zealand, Canada, Western Australia, Texas, England and Scotland, Finland, and Germany.

"I take to the open road. Healthy, free, the world before me." - Walt Whitman, American poet

"I take to the open road. Healthy, free, the world before me." - Walt Whitman, American poet

Even More Songs About Road Trips

Know a song that should be on this playlist? Make a suggestion in the Comments Section below.

SongArtist(s)Year Released

21. Born to be Wild

Steppenwolf

1968

22. Sweet Home Alabama

Lynyrd Skynyrd

1974

23. Ready to Run

One Direction

2014

24. Fast Car

Traci Chapman

1988

25. Wheels Rollin'

Jason Aldean

2012

26. Ramblin' Man

The Allman Brothers Band

1973

27. Run Away with Me

Carly Rae Jepson

2015

28. Shut Up and Drive

Rihanna

2008

29. Born to Run

Bruce Springsteen

1975

30. Cruise

Florida Georgia Line

2012

31. Running on Empty

Jackson Browne

1978

32. The Golden Age

Beck

2002

33. Gypsy

Shakira

2009

34. Heading Out to the Highway

Judas Priest

1981

35. Me and Bobby McGee

Janis Joplin

1969

36. Ride

Trace Adkins

2006

37. The Wayfarer

Bruce Springsteen

2019

38. This Far from Memphis

Easton Corbin

2010

39. Fourth of July

Shooter Jennings (featuring George Jones)

2005

40. Take Me Home Country Roads

John Denver

1971

41. Hotel California

Eagles

1976

42. Arkansas

Chris Stapleton

2021

43. Drop Top

Keith Urban (featuring Kassi Ashton)

2018)

44. I'm Gonna Be 500 Miles

The Proclaimers

1988

45. Wide Open Spaces

The Chicks

1998

46. Amarillo By Morning

George Strait

1983

47. Faithfully

Journey

1983

48. Runnin' Down a Dream

Tom Petty

1989

49. King of the Road

Roger Miller

1965

50. Rocking' into the Night

38 Special

1979

51. Starting Over

Chris Stapleton

2020

52. You Can Sleep Whiile I Drive

Melissa Etheridge

1990

© 2021 FlourishAnyway

Comments

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 05, 2021:

Genna - You'd be amazed at what some of the hotels and car rental agencies are asking. Seems like everybody will be on vacation. This is booked like it or not so we're going though! Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a good vacation planned too.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on July 04, 2021:

Such a timely article, Flourish. You are right; after being cooped up for what seems like forever, road trip music is just what the doctor ordered.

"Take It Easy" is such a fav of mine...My cursor seemed to slide right down to play this song -- just like a homing pigeon. Thank for all of the wonderful selections!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 03, 2021:

Bill - Although my husband has been traveling as a necessity for work throughout the pandemic, I've been glued to the house and I'm vaccinated and more than ready to break free. Our road trip won't be a long one (just a few days) because of my cats but it'll be enough to satisfy. I hope your Fourth of July is a good one!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 03, 2021:

Heidi - What a great bunch of additions! I hope you have fun things planned for the holiday weekend. Our road trip is later in July. We will be flying out to Denver then road tripping from there. Happy Independence Day!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 03, 2021:

Vidya - I love those two groups as well. Have a terrific weekend. Thanks for your comment.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 03, 2021:

Misbah - What a kind spirit you have. Have a wonderful weekend. Thanks for stopping by.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on July 02, 2021:

Flourish, I enjoy taking road trips. I haven't heard all of the songs you've shared, but I have heard a few. I'm sure all of the songs are beautiful. I like "Life Is a Highway" by Tom Cochrane.

Thank you for sharing. Keep smiling

Blessings and Love

VIDYA D SAGAR on July 02, 2021:

What a wonderful list of songs for road trips, Flourish. Made me nostalgic for those trips. I love listening to music while traveling. Eagles and Bon Jovi are my favorites. Thanks for sharing.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 02, 2021:

Peggy - Some of the best memories have been on road adventures. I like the sense of discovery. Have a wonderful Fourth of July!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 02, 2021:

Linda - I certainly understand the arthritis issue. I have it really bad in my left knee and just went to the doctor last week for it. I think it's a partial consequence of skydiving when I was much younger and of course aging. Renting a car these days costs a small fortune but I'm so ready for this road trip it's worth it. Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful Fourth of July!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 02, 2021:

Devika - Thank you for your kind comment.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 02, 2021:

Bill - Always those Beatles! The Petty song was "Runnin' Down a Dream." I think it's awesome that you crossed the country three times. I'd love to do that. I've traveled all over the South, East Coast, and Northeast and lived a bunch of places there too but not much in the West except on business. I do know what you mean about bathroom stops and also stiff joints sitting in the car for many hours.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on July 01, 2021:

Lots of good road songs on the list already. My adds:

* King of the Road by Roger Miller, although covered by others. Kinda partial to Randy Travis' rendition.

* 38 Special "Rockin' Into the Night." Cruisin' down the motorway doin' 80 to the motel... ;)

Hope you have a relaxing and fun July 4th weekend!

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on July 01, 2021:

Great topic Flourish. I think we are all very much looking forward to hitting the road and getting out of the house. We have a few planned for July, August, and September. Very excited to start exploring again. Great song list.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 01, 2021:

I have absolutely loved the many road trips that we have taken over the years. Reading this and listening to some of these songs was fun. Thanks!

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on July 01, 2021:

Flourish, of course, Willie Nelson’s would be #1. I love the Nat King Cole “Route 66.” (And I took a photo of Mr. Carb standing in front of the sign in Santa Monica. What a fun trip that was! Chris Cross, Johnny Cash, the Boss, Steppenwolf—oh my, what a great list. I think you found my “thing.” For once, I can say I recognize almost all of these. I think we’re ALL ready for a road trip. Mr. Carb is ready to go, but my Uncle Arthur(ritis) doesn’t do well sitting in one place for hours. But I can pretend while listing to these songs.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 01, 2021:

These songs are beautiful. I enjoy listening to music and try to keep updated on new modern music. Music to me from all generations are good.. Your list of songs are incredible.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 01, 2021:

Come on now, The Beatles, "Got To Get You Into My Life" starts with a jump in the car and a roadtrip. And didn't Tom Petty have a famous song about a roadtrip? Can't remember the name.

When I was younger I loved getting in the car and driving for a few days. Drove across the country three times. Now, too many bathroom stops. LOL

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 01, 2021:

Pamela - We're leaving in mid-July and are very excited. I hope your road trip is fabulous!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 01, 2021:

Sakhajit - Thank you for stopping by.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 01, 2021:

Umesh - Thank you for reading. Have a wonderful week.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 01, 2021:

Dora - I'm sorry to hear about your lockdown. I hope you haven't been exposed to the virus. My family and I are really looking forward to a brief escape after being imprisoned in our own homes during the past 18 months due to the pandemic.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 01, 2021:

We are actually leaving for a road trip a week from today. We wanted to avoid the traffic on the 4th. This is a great group of songs to listen to while traveling. I hope you do take your trip in the near future, Flourish. Thanks for assembling a good group of songs for travel.

Sankhajit Bhattacharjee from MILWAUKEE on June 30, 2021:

life is a journey, life is a song....l enjoyed your post

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on June 30, 2021:

Splendid compilation. A great source of songs while travelling around. Great work,

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 30, 2021:

Road trips make a welcome topic for me, being on 24-lockdown scheduled for 2 weeks. More stuff happens on road trips than I ever imagined. Thanks for the stories.

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