In the first of a series, Jennifer Billot gives her essential music choices for a quintessential American road trip.
Blue skies, sun beating down, the wind whipping through your hair, expensive sunglasses on, and a full tank of gas; the recipe for a great American road trip! Nothing beats driving down Route 60, Highway 101, or any other expansive road on your way to a glorious American destination. If you don’t do even a mini road trip while in America, well, then you are stupid. I’m not talking about taking a few months to drive through all the mainland States (though that is definitely on my bucket list); it can just be a quick three day tour of the Californian coast, or hell even a couple of hours to the next city. I don’t care, as long as you get out there and experience as much of it as possible.
I have done a few mini road trips in my time, from all around the Pacific Northwest, down the West Coast, and across California. They were some of the best times of my life. What is so great about America is that you can jump in a car and in a few hours reach mountains, or a desert, or the ocean, or just a great city to explore.
Now, sitting in a car for long periods of time can get a bit uncomfortable, and a bit boring, so I want to make some suggestions as to what you can do during your trip to make it a bit easier, and in this post, I’m concentrating on tuunnneeesss.
Music is a must for any road trip, and to this day, if I hear a certain song, I am right back in the car, with my friends, singing our little hearts out as we drive past every fast food joint known to man. None of this ‘Little Chef in 28 miles’ crap, just fast food joint after fast food joint, stretching for miles. I wanted to share with you some of these songs and urge you to put them on your playlist for your next road trip.
1) No Cars Go – Arcade Fire As you are pulling onto the highway at the start of your journey, turn this baby up, sit back, relax and get excited.
2) Bizness – Tune Yards Best enjoyed with the windows rolled down, an arm casually resting over the side.
3) Winter Winds – Mumford and Sons This is a good song for a bit of reflection and general mellowness.
4) Skinny Love – Bon Iver A must when driving into a sunset.
5) Countdown – Beyoncé Perfect for when you want to practice your vocal riffs at the halfway mark. Include Run the World too, another great song to belt out some girl power.
6) Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams It’s pretty much the law to play this on a road trip so make sure you fit it in.
7) Chicago – Sufjan Stevens Anything by Sufjan Stevens makes for great road trip music. I picked this one as it is my favourite.
8) Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield I bet this gets a few raised eyebrows and some scoffing. Just…trust me.
9) Hello Seattle – Owl City Skip this if you aren’t actually going to Seattle, but if you are then a great introduction to one of the best cities in America.
10) Change of Time – Josh Ritter A little mellow so choose wisely when you put this on but it is such a beautiful song.
11) Sunny Hours – Long Beach Dub All Stars Yes, the ‘Joey’ theme, but sounds great next to the ocean, possibly when driving through LA or when in Miami!
A bit of an eclectic mix, I will admit. Other choice selections that have been played at various states of hysteria on a road trip include Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and other such 90s classics, which we sang at top volume until it all became too much! I recommend playing these only when absolutely necessary; they can be overdone and leave you physically and emotionally drained.
A word of caution to end this tale; people will be able to see you. Sitting at traffic lights, belting out Adele with appropriate pained and emotive facial expressions may get some strange looks. But you’ve got to own it. The car is your stage.