Whether you're stuck in traffic, on a road trip, or simply just going to the shops, music and driving are the perfect match. It's hard to imagine a better feeling than driving down the motorway with a summer holiday in sight or through the beautiful countryside as your favourite song plays through the radio.
In the spirit of the British Motor Show starting next month we've collated a few of our driving song staples for when we're out on the road.
Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run
Bruce Springsteen's music is the perfect accompaniment to long drives – especially across the whole of his third album ‘Born To Run’. The title track is not only a sing-along favourite, but one where we hear ‘The Boss’ giving plenty of references to driving; "The highway’s jammed with broken heroes…", "the girls comb their hair in rear-view mirrors…" and "sprung from cages out on Highway 9'"to name just three. It may be a cliché but there are few tracks bolder and more fitting for a driving playlist than ‘Born To Run’.
Aaron West and The Roaring Twenties – 67, Cherry Red
Aaron West – aka the character created by Dan Campbell (The Wonder Years) – is one of the best story-telling songwriters and with ’67, Cherry Red’ his tale continues. Trying to sell his father’s old Mustang to make a little money to square some debts, the process results in him recounting the memories of the car. Combine the story to brilliant, rock-leaning instrumentation and it results in a fantastic driving anthem. If you’re on a lengthy trip, be sure to listen to all of Aaron West’s albums to hear his story telling in full.
The Gaslight Anthem – Old White Lincoln
Another track title inspired by a car here, this time ‘Old White Lincoln’ from The Gaslight Anthem’s seminal 'The ’59 Sound'. Speaking of the track, frontman Brian Fallon talks about how he and his friend in high school would race but he could never keep up with their ’55 White Lincoln with a V8 engine – like ’67, Cherry Red’ there is a sense of nostalgia running throughout ‘Old White Lincoln’ and Fallon recalls the friendship with his standout memories of both the car and the times they "drove through the roof." Now 14 years since the release of the album, The Gaslight Anthem are back and we can’t wait to hear this track live again.
Klaxons – It’s Not Over Yet
Originally released back in the 1990s by Grace, Klaxons made ‘It’s Not Over Yet’ their own when it first dropped in 2007 with an iconic dance beat and cutting guitar riffs. The upbeat nature of Klaxons’ version perfectly complements hurtling down the motorway and the echoing choruses of "it’s not over, not over, not over, not over yet" provides the perfect sing-along opportunity for drivers and passengers alike. Last touring back in 2014, Klaxons remain the poster-boys of the ‘new rave’ scene and if they were to announce a run of comeback shows, they would undoubtedly prove popular.
Fleetwood Mac - The Chain
Granted, this has an affiliation with driving anyway because it was the Formula 1 theme tune for many years, but regardless it’s still an incredible driving song from one of the bestselling albums in music history. 'The Chain' opened the second side of Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 'Rumours' album and unusually, for a Fleetwood Mac song, the song-writing is credited to the entire band. However, once you listen to it you understand why it’s credited to them all. This is clearly a music collage of bits and pieces each of the band members had written separately and somehow weaved together perfectly to create one of their most popular songs.
Talking Heads - Road to Nowhere
The 1985 song written by David Byrne for the album 'Little Creatures' is an apt driving song for when you don’t really have a destination in mind. Talking Heads manage to dress up a depressing topic with a catchy, upbeat composition which we're all here for. This is a great tune to aimlessly plod along to!
ELO - Mr Blue Sky
You’re going away for the weekend, the sun is shining, you blast 'Mr Blue Sky' out and sing to your heart’s content, life is good. Written by the one and only Jeff Lyne for the 1977 album ‘Out Of The Blue’, this is the ultimate happy driving song, and it simply follows the concept of a rainy day coming to an end. Wonderful.
Rascal Flatts - Life Is a Highway
It might be a bit on the nose but it’s hard to imagine a better driving song than 'Life Is a Highway' by Rascal Flatts. There’s a reason that it was chosen as the main theme song for 'Cars'! The country rock riff somehow perfectly encapsulates the feeling of driving down the motorway. When the guitar solo hits you’re instantly transported to driving down an American highway, even if you are just popping to the local co-op for some milk.
RVIVR - Wrong Way/One Way
Fast punk rock at its best, this song gives the feeling of the sun shining, and driving with the windows down. The driving (pun not intended) drums, vocals and lead feel like they propel you forwards. The good thing about driving to punk music is the usual car singing (yelling) doesn’t sound out of place.
New Found Glory - Coming Home
Sticking on the punk theme but steering towards the poppier side we have 'Coming Home' by New Found Glory. Another song that perfectly fits the exquisite vibe of driving on a summer day. The lyrics "I’m coming home to you again" perfectly paint the picture of spending time away from a significant other, and the much-awaited drive back to finally see them again. Join in with the anthemic chants and you have yourself a perfect feel good driving song!
Boston - More Than a Feeling
Another staple of our driving playlist, 'More Than a Feeling' is a real test for your driving karaoke skills, but it’s a challenge we accept kindly. There’s something uplifting about this track, somewhere amidst the vocals, the guitar solo, the incredible drums that you can tap out on your steering wheel there’s a little bit of magic.
Stevie Nicks - Edge of Seventeen
Any good driving song needs a perfect singalong moment, an earworm of a hook, and a compelling, enticing guitar riff. Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks fulfills the criteria with 'Edge of Seventeen' - released from her debut solo album 'Bella Donna' back in 1981. It's got all the grit and suspense needed to get you through those final twists and turns, as the evening draws in and you approach your final destination. Even better enjoyed with a road trip companion at your side to harmonise on the white winged dove birdsong of "ooh, ooh, ooh".
Arctic Monkeys - The Hellcat Spangled Shalala
Some road trips you find yourself battling through the dark, squinting into headlights and praying you'll be home as soon as physically possible. Others are best enjoyed while taking your time. Perhaps you've taken the scenic route, as the summer sun sets, and twilight begins to draw in with the windows down and sunglasses perched on the bridge of your nose. In those moments, there is no better companion than Arctic Monkeys' monumental stadium anthem 'The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala' from 2011's 'Suck It And See'. Twinkling, echoing guitars and huge choruses will transport you back to summer days, festival crowds, cold drinks with friends, and make those exciting summer holiday drives all the more enjoyable.
Billie Marten - Aquarium
While not what you'd consider a conventional driving tune – all pulsing drums and fast guitars – Billie Marten's 'Aquarium' from her latest album 'Flora Fauna' is the ideal late night tune. It's the perfect pairing for watching the streetlights pass methodically as you journey down the motorway in darkness. Reminiscent of a lullaby, Billie's silky tones will wrap you in a warm blanket of sound - peaceful enough to let your passengers doze away, while you enjoy the peace and tranquillity of driving to your final destination.
Check out our playlist below to find some other notable mentions including Foo Fighters, The Killers, Carly Rae Jepson and more! What's your favourite driving song? Tell The British Motor Show and win a once in a lifetime experience!
Help us choose Britain's Best Driving Song. - The British Motor Show
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