Top 20 Favorite Songs for Your Summer Road Trip (Triple-A Format)

Updated on October 13, 2017
purl3agony profile image

An avid music fan all her life, Donna enjoys sharing her love of indie rock singers and songwriters with other music fans.

Top 20 Favorite Road Trip Songs
Top 20 Favorite Road Trip Songs | Source

Recently, one of my favorite radio stations, WYEP in Pittsburgh, asked its listeners to submit their list of the 20 best road trip songs. The radio station was compiling a countdown of the top 500 songs for summer.

This task got me searching through my memory and my cds to put together my top 20 list. To select my choices, I came up with three categories that each song had to fit. The song either had to:

1. Mention traveling, driving, escape, or the open road

2. Fill you with energy and make you feel like you could let loose and drive forever

3. Be a song that everyone knows and loves to sing along with, adding fun and entertainment to any long drive

My Top 20 List

WYEP is a Triple-A radio station, and most of my choices fit that format. I wanted to choose some songs that everyone knows and will agree with, and then have some unexpected additions. My songs are not in any particular order, and if I were to do it again, I might make some substitutions or different choices. But I'm happy with my list as is, and I hope you enjoy the selections.

What is Triple-A Format Radio?

"Triple-A" refers to adult album alternative, a radio format that is targeted towards adult listeners, as opposed to teenagers, and offers a mix of indie rock, alternative rock, folk, jazz, blues, and alt country. According to Wikipedia, some of the musical acts that are commonly played on Triple-A radio include U2, Ryan Adams, Coldplay, Patty Griffin, and many others.

Where the Streets Have No Name - U2

An obvious choice - it seems like everyone loves this song, and everyone loves U2. The ultimate song about the open road and the search for personal freedom, I had to include it on my list.

Her Own Kinda Woman - Big Head Todd and the Monsters

Big Head Todd might not be a household name, but they have some great songs. Her Own Kinda Woman is a classic blues/rock song with a classic theme - don't try to change your lover or she'll "spread her wings and she'll fly."

Hollywood Nights - Bob Seger

I'm not sure that Bog Seger fits the Triple-A format, but this is definitely a true road trip song. Bob Seger's music seems to be synonymous with the open road, and he is a great (and often under-rated) songwriter. This song will definitely keep you energized while driving.

Doo Wop (That Thing) - Lauren Hill

This song is a wonderful blend of contemporary rock and soul that mixes in a generous dose of classic doo-wop. A fun song to sing along with, it always reminds me of summer.

Let It Ride - Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams is a great songwriter, and his songs often conjure up the image of dusty back roads and lonely meanderings, looking for hope and love - or at least a warm place to rest your head.

This version is from one of Ryan's many appearances on the David Letterman Show.

Fisherman's Blues - the Waterboys

This song might not be about the road, but it mentions the sea, and trains, and longing to be somewhere else. With Irish fiddle and Mike Scot's honest voice, this song has kept me company on many, many trips.

Little Red Corvette - Prince

I love Prince and I had it get him on this list. He has written so many great songs, but this is the one that got him widespread radio airplay, and it's the most obvious choice that fits my criteria. If you're riding in a red corvette, how can you not love it?

Memory Motel - Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger has always struck me as a guy who has a replacement girlfriend picked out even before his current girl knows she's done :) But in this song, he sounds genuinely heartbroken, and "10,000 miles" and 15 states can't help him forget his Hannah.

Car Wheels on a Gravel Road - Lucinda Williams

This is, in my opinion, possibly the best song ever written. It tells the complex story of a mysterious road trip from a child's point of view (I think). Eerie and beautiful and mixed with a funky, jangling guitar, Lucinda Williams shows why she is an alt-country favorite.

Beautiful Day - U2

The lyrics of this song are a beautiful collage of travel images. Just roll down the windows, turn up this song, sit back, and enjoy the ride.

Gravel - Ani Difranco

Possibly my favorite Ani Difranco song, it tells the story of a motorcycle trip from the perspective of the girl on the back of the bike. As the lyrics go, "All I need is my leather, a t-shirt, and two socks. I'll keep my hands warm in your pockets. You can use the engine block."

Young Americans - David Bowie

I'm not really sure why this song is on my list, but so many of my high school years were spent listening to David Bowie. My friends and I knew all his songs, and they were part of the soundtrack of my life at the age. This song brings back memories of riding around with my friends, singing along with the radio, and looking for something to do.

The Passenger - Siouxsie and the Banshees

Originally recorded by Iggy Pop, this song might be another obvious choice. The opening lyrics say it all, "I am the passenger, and I ride, and I ride."

I love the cover of this song by Souxsie and the Banshees. I think Souxsie's voice and the horns add some high energy and fun that make this a great road trip song.

Cashbox - Big Head Todd and the Monsters

Another power blues/rock song from Big Head Todd and the Monsters. It keeps you going, feeling great, and makes the miles feel like minutes.

Chin Up, Cheer Up - Ryan Adams

Perhaps one of Ryan Adams lesser-known songs, it's a fun little ditty that everyone will want to sing along with.

Slide - Ani Difranco

Ani Difranco is such a talented songwriter and musician, I had to include more than one of her songs. Here, the mode of travel is a bicycle, and the protagonist is trying to escape her feelings with a ride in the rain. As the lyrics go, "The pouring rain is no place for a bicycle ride. You hit the brakes and you slide, slide, slide."

Glory Bound - Martin Sexton

I'm never really sure what this song is about, but there's mention of freedom, "taking a chance on the wind" and living in a VW bus - enough to make my list. Martin Sexton's voice makes it all work, and he performs his songs with such power and passion, I could listen to this song over and over again.

Burning House of Love - X

Rockabilly meets stalking in this song of love gone wrong. "I think I might take a ride and burn your love house down." That pretty much says it all.

Caravan - Van Morrison

I only have a vague understanding of what's going on in this song: it seems there's some type of party, and the radio is playing. But Van Morrison has the most amazing voice, and when this song is playing, I wish I was at this party.

Dancing in the Streets - Martha and the Vandellas

"Classic" songs are sometimes thought of as being out-of-date and old-fashioned. But a great song is always a great song, and that's what makes it a classic. This song is a true celebration of summer and feeling good. How can you not join in and sing along?

The Top 500 List

In early May, WYEP compiled the submissions and played the Top 500 Road Songs as chosen by their listeners. As you can see from the complete list, only 9 of my choices made it on to the Top 500 (10 if you count Iggy Pop's version of The Passenger). I'm a little surprised at the final list. A lot of these songs would not fit into the Triple-A format, but then there are some wonderful songs on the list that I wish I had included on mine.

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

        Donna Herron 

        2 years ago from USA

        Thanks, Tony! Glad to introduce you to some new tunes for your road trips. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      • tonymead60 profile image

        Tony Mead 

        2 years ago from Yorkshire

        Nice selection, we all have our own favourites. There are a few on your list I'm not familiar with, soI'll look them up.

      • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

        Donna Herron 

        6 years ago from USA

        Hi btrbell! I agree - no great road trip is complete without some Bob Marley songs, and it would be hard to choose just one to put on the list :) There are some many great songs and artists that shoulda/coulda/woulda been put on the list. Thanks for stopping by, commenting, and pinning! I appreciate your suggestions!

      • btrbell profile image

        Randi Benlulu 

        6 years ago from Mesa, AZ

        Interesting list. I have to admit to not being familiar with all of them but that makes me curious to go and listen. My daughter and I would have to add a little Cat Stevens and Bob Marley to the list, just to rock out to! Thank you for this list. I will check them all out! Up+ and pinned!

      • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

        Donna Herron 

        6 years ago from USA

        Thanks, Spartucusjones! That's exactly what I set out to do :) Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for your comments!!

      • spartucusjones profile image

        CJ Baker 

        6 years ago from Parts Unknown

        Great list of driving tunes! I love the mix of predictable and curveballs, it made for a well balance list and for an enjoyable read.

      • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

        Donna Herron 

        6 years ago from USA

        Hi LeslieOutlaw - I'm so glad that you enjoyed this hub. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • LeslieOutlaw profile image


        6 years ago from South Carolina

        Great tunes for the road. You brought back some memories at the mention of a few of these hits. I enjoyed reading the hub :)

      • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

        Donna Herron 

        6 years ago from USA

        Sounds like a great concert! You were lucky to see Big Head Todd on their "home turf" at Red Rocks. I'm jealous :)

      • theframjak profile image


        6 years ago from East Coast

        I saw BHTM at Red Rocks back in '06. Todd was on fire that night. The weather was awesome. Best show ever!

      • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

        Donna Herron 

        6 years ago from USA

        Hi theframjak - Big Head Todd has a lot of great songs! Glad to meet another fan :) Thanks for commenting!

      • theframjak profile image


        6 years ago from East Coast

        Glad to see Big Head Todd & the Monsters made the list. My favorite part of "Cashbox" is when Todd goes "huuuughhhh" at the end of the song.

      • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

        Donna Herron 

        6 years ago from USA

        Thanks, FlourishAnyway! I hope you have a great summer!!

      • FlourishAnyway profile image


        6 years ago from USA

        Great list of music, purl3agony, and perfect timing!

      • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

        Donna Herron 

        6 years ago from USA

        Hi djt5036 - Glad to give you some new suggestions for road trip songs! Hope you have a wonderful trip! Thanks for adding your comments.

      • djt5036 profile image

        Daniel J. Taylor 

        6 years ago from Eddystone, PA

        Your picks are different from some of mine, but at the very least I have some new tunes to consider for my upcoming trip to the Grand Canyon!

      • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

        Donna Herron 

        7 years ago from USA

        Hi Tony - I agree that everyone would have their own favorites. I think that's why it's fun to share. Everyone I talk to comes up with another great suggestion that I wish I had included :) Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate it.

      • tonymead60 profile image

        Tony Mead 

        7 years ago from Yorkshire


        I enjoyed your selection, of course I think most people have their own; I like anything by ZZTop or meatloaf, apart from summer when I enjoy any Puccini opera.

        Fun hub.



      • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

        Donna Herron 

        7 years ago from USA

        "Roam" is another great choice - I wish I had thought of that song ! Once I finished my list, I could think of a dozen other songs that I could have put on it :) I'll have to check out the Brazilian version of "The Passenger". Thanks for you comments!!

      • e-five profile image

        John C Thomas 

        7 years ago from Chicago, Illinois, USA

        "Roam" by The B-52s and Cracker's "Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now) are two that might be on my list.... I like that "The Passenger" is on your list-- I have three versions of that song on my iPod, including one by a Brazilian band in Portuguese!

      • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

        Donna Herron 

        7 years ago from USA

        Hi theframjak - I'm glad you like this list and hope you enjoy listening to WYEP. They stream their station online and even have a mobile phone app. Thanks, as always, for stopping by!!

      • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

        Donna Herron 

        7 years ago from USA

        Hi kidscrafts - Thanks for your comments! My husband and I don't always agree on music either, and we've sent in separate lists to WYEP for this countdown. The radio station will start playing to top 500 songs on May 2 and will post the list as they countdown at Meanwhile, back to knitting :)

      • theframjak profile image


        7 years ago from East Coast

        Marvelous list purl3agony. It's a good mix of classics and lesser known songs. I'll have to give WYEP a listen.

      • kidscrafts profile image


        7 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

        Great list of music Purl3agony. It's funny because at the beginning I was always expecting hubs about knitting or other art projects and you are developping other subjects! Good for you!

        There are some names in your list that I am not familiar with. My husband and I don't always like the same kind of music so when we travel on long trip... the one who drives can choose the music :-)

        I like "Dancing in the Streets - Martha and the Vandellas" a lot!

        Thank you for sharing your top 20!

        Did you send your list to the WYEP in Pittsburgh radio stations?

        Enjoy the rest of the week!


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)