20 Top Route 66 Driving Songs - Part 1
Roadtrips and music go hand in hand. Whether searching the airwaves for local stations of docking your iPod for a pre-arranged playlist, chances are that at some point you're going to be cruising down Route 66 listening to a rich selection of songs. This list is just a small selection of what I consider to be good Route 66 driving songs.
Putting the list together was tough - what criteria would qualify one song over another and how would I ever narrow it down to just 20?! In the end I opted for a mix of old and not so old, songs containing obvious road references and others that just had the right "vibe" for a roadtrip (whatever that is!) In some cases I chose to include songs that had happened to pop up on the radio during my own Route 66 experience. Listen to them while you plan your trip or even download them using the links below and add them to your playlist.
So here, in no particular order (the numbers are there just to help keep count), are 20 top Route 66 driving songs - hope you enjoy!
1. Chuck Berry - Route 66
Naturally, this song had to make the list if this list was to have any credibility! There are numerous versions but in light of the sad passing of Chuck Berry it only seemed right to include his rendition.
2. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Up Around The Bend
Creedence Clearwater Revival are one of those bands that could have had any number of their tracks featured in this list - many of their songs have that indefinable roadtrip "vibe" that I mentioned earlier.
3. Hal Ketchum - Small Town Saturday Night
I love this song - simple as that. The lyrics have a definite nostalgia to them that seem to fit perfectly with my idea of many small Route 66 towns of the past.
4. Whitesnake - Here I Go Again '87
Whether you call it "classic rock", "hair rock" or "dad rock" this is an absolute 80's classic - perfect for those quiet areas where you can sing at the top of your lungs!
5. Willie Nelson - On the Road Again
While driving Route 66 I found it hard not to start each leg of the trip by singing the title of this song as I started the engine!
6. Rascal Flatts - Life is a Highway
If you've seen the Pixar movie "Cars" then you'll know why this track has made the list! This song, for me, is the perfect Route 66 driving song, especially for those sunny days and warm evenings.
7. CW McCall - Convoy
Okay, so it's a novelty song that inspired a movie of the same name, but just listen to that chorus!
8. Kid Rock - All Summer Long
One of the more contemporary songs on the list, this track mashes up Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London", and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama". So basically it's a two-for-one and a great track in it's own right.
9. Eagles - Take It Easy
With it's "standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona" lyric how could this not make the list. There were many Eagles songs that could have been included but this seemed the most fitting.
10. Carrie Underwood - Before He Cheats
Where's the Route 66 link? This one is very personal - in the summer of 2007 I drove the road end to end and every radio station was playing this tune. And with the lyrics describing one woman's trashing of her cheating boyfriends four-wheel drive, there's also a tenuous link to the road!
11. Steppenwolf - Born to be Wild
Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda riding across America on a pair of choppers - it's a classic cinematic image with an equally classic soundtrack.
12. Ricky Gervais & Noel Gallagher - Freelove Freeway
Is this another novelty song? I'm not so sure. With the addition of Noel Gallagher's guitar and backing vocals I think this is a good song in it's own right, even if the image of David Brent isn't far from your mind!
13. AC/DC - Highway to Hell
Classic rock at it's best. It was a toss up between this and Back in Black, but the highway theme won through! This is a great video - who else can get away with wearing horns like this!
14. Lou Reed - Walk On The Wild Side
Groundbreaking and risqué lyrics for the time and an incredibly catchy chorus have earned this song it's place in the list. A perfect track for embarking on an adventure.
15. Glenn Frey - The Heat Is On
Made famous by the 1984 movie Beverley Hills Cop, this is the second song in the list by the former Eagles frontman. A great driving record with a memorable saxophone riff.
16. Fleetwood Mac - Go Your Own Way
Fleetwood Mac could have had numerous records in this list but I settled on Go Your Own Way simply for it's singalong quality. The lyrics reflect the difficult relationship between Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks at the time but make for a great soundtrack to a roadtrip.
17. Spin Doctors - Little Miss Can't Be Wrong
Like the Carrie Underwood track on this list, this track is a personal selection based on the fact that it came on the radio as I cruised through Texas in the sun, and it's fun, summertime sound perfectly matched the moment.
18. The Mamas & The Papas - California Dreamin'
You're driving on Route 66, following the path that many have taken before you, heading towards California (if you're heading west that is!) So what better song to to cruise to than "California Dreamin'"?
19. Kansas - Carry On Wayward Son
I confess... I hadn't heard this song prior to the release of the movie "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" back in 2004. From that point on this rock epic has come to symbolize fun and having a good time. Plus, the band is called Kansas right?!
20. Razorlight - America
A record packed with emotion, that builds from it's gentle opening chords to a memorable singalong chorus. Listen to this record at the end of your trip and try to reflect on your amazing adventure without bringing a little tear to your eye - I dare you! 😀
So there you have it - my 20 top Route 66 driving songs. It was a tough task and I'm sure it would be different for everyone - feel free to leave yours in the comments.
Finally, if I could give you one tip... as you embark on your Route 66 adventure, make a note of any great tracks that you hear on the radio that make you feel good. When you get home you can download them and have your own collection of Route 66 musical memories.
Take it easy, Steve