Driving can be one of life’s great pleasures. When the traffic is light, conditions are good, you’ve sorted your cheap car insurance out, and there’s nothing wrong with your car, a long drive gives you time to think – especially if you’re an experienced and confident driver.
As with many simple, enjoyable things in life, driving can benefit from some musical accompaniment. This is why we have “drive time” slots on radio stations – because radio stations understand that for some drivers music is a must, and for most drivers too much conversation on the radio can prove distracting. Indeed, research carried out by a UK university in 2005 showed that for many drivers, listening to music helped them reach an optimum level of alertness and concentration while driving, and was less distracting than taking part in a conversation while driving.
If you are planning a long car journey any time soon why not listen to some or all of these top ten car journey playlist songs:
2, 4, 6, 8, Motorway - Tom Robinson
The UK motorway system isn’t the first thing that pops into your mind when you picture the music charts. However, the song writing talent of New Wave icon Tom Robinson resulted in this ‘anthemic’ song which brings some of the glamour of the iconic American Trucker to the roads of Great Britain – and which ended up at number 5 in the UK charts.
Highway to Hell - AC/DC
The title track from Australia’s biggest band’s sixth studio album, this is one of the touchstones of classic rock music. Angus Young, the band’s guitarist, famous for wearing a school uniform on stage, provides a lesson in how to write and then play a propulsive riff. You’ll have to make sure you keep an eye on the speedometer when you play this, to make sure you’re not accidentally accelerating.
Highway ’61 Revisited - Johnny Winter
Highway 61 revisited was originally written by a certain Bob Dylan. It’s a strange song that name checks a road near the place where Dylan spent his childhood. Johnny Winter, one of the finest guitarists to ever come out of America, covered the song on his second album and turned it into a raucous blues number which still sounds unhinged many decades after it was recorded.
Driving in My Car - Madness
Madness are an English institution, and have been bringing their ska-style entertainment to festival audiences for many years. Driving in My Car is a characteristically nutty song about the joys of owning a beat-up second hand motor. This song spent 8 weeks in the charts when it was released, and had also featured on a Japanese car advert. Enjoy this song’s riotous saxophones and see if you can resist joining in with the chorus.
Cars - Gary Numan
Gary Numan is a visionary musician who was among the first acts in the UK to really embrace the possibilities of the synthesizer and use these (at the time) cutting edge instruments to try and make pop music. In Cars he couples a futuristic sound with a futurist idea – the anonymity and security offered by the automobile. Also, and most importantly, he doesn’t forget the importance of a good hook and a compelling beat.
Crosstown Traffic - Jimi Hendrix
Hendrix doesn’t need any introduction. On Crosstown Traffic the 70s’ most iconic musician does what he does best, offering some blistering guitar playing in a song which uses traffic as a metaphor for a troubled relationship. Never afraid to experiment, Hendrix doubled some of his guitar parts on this song with a make-shift kazoo – confounding attempts by other guitarists to copy his tone.
Silver Machine – Hawkwind
Hawkwind were a big deal in the UK scene in the 70s, and could be seen as one of the archetypal hippy progressive rock bands. But it wasn’t all peace and love. This song which seems to be about space travel, but may just be about bicycles, is great to listen to in your car. If you think you recognise the singer, you do – it’s Lemmy from Motorhead (famous for the track Ace of Spades) before he had his own band.
Autobahn - Kraftwerk
This classic piece of electronic music is, like Gary Numan’s Cars, a great example of a song which combines the subject of driving with a sound that emulates some of the experience of driving. The percussion drives the song along as the lyrics – a rarity in Kraftwerk’s music, as most songs are instrumental – attempt to communicate the joy of driving on Germany’s famous speed-limitless autobahns.
Roadrunner - Jonathan Richman
Roadrunner is one of the most endearing songs about driving ever written. A simple, proto-punkish rhythm accompanies Jonathan Richman as he improvises his lyrics about the joys of driving in suburban America. Regardless of your age it’ll make you feel like a teenager again, in the best possible way.
Homeward Bound - Simon and Garfunkel
No matter how far you drive, at some point you’ll be heading home again, and this track by folk duo Simon and Garfunkel catches the sadness of wanting to return – and having to return – home. It’s a little calmer than some of the other songs on this list, so if you feel yourself becoming too relaxed... put AC/DC back on!
Car Insurance from The Co-operative Insurance
If you’ve got a long journey planned, make sure you’ve got a valid insurance policy from an insurer such as The Co-operative Insurance.
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