Cars and songs are a pairing that truly defines the ethos of modernity. Cars were invented to virtually shorten the distance between travel points. But the human spirit is possessed.
What is it with cars that titillate our perception of freedom and mobility? Cars represent the thrill of travel and the freedom of movement.
There are few simple pleasures that can equal the sensation of cruising down the highway with the breeze on your hair and the horizon coming up your windshield.
They say that life is one complete soundtrack. And cars are where we keep the songs that define our life and our transcience in this bright and paved world. Key the ignition and turn the car stereo volume up. And surrender to the exhilarating drive!
Turn on the radio and let the music take hold of your spirit across miles and miles of blacktop. Below is a list of twenty-five songs about cars to accompany you on your next road trip.
1. Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
This 1988 hit song from acclaimed singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman features insightful and socially-relevant lyrics embedded in an unforgettable acoustic guitar riff that is sure to inspire a smooth drive on cruise control. This is an instant inclusion in any car playlist!
2. Counting Blue Cars (Tell Me Your Thoughts on God ) – Dishwalla
Dishwalla may be a one-hit wonder, but their hit song is a perfect inclusion in any driving playlist. The buildup to the chorus will surely make you sing along while tapping the beat on the steering wheel. If you’re feeling shy roll up the windows and just belt out the lyrics to your heart’s content.
3. Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car – Billy
This Billy Ocean classic evolved from a banger of a dance groove into an anthem for driving. It has been featured in the soundtrack of various car-themed films, video games, and advertisements. It surely will make the occasional traffic buildup a bit more tolerable.
4. Litle Red Corvette – Prince
Musical genius Prince celebrates life in the fast lane and romance on the fly with this song. Its unique combination of synth-based riffs and a rock chorus evokes the sleek lines and the engine power of its automotive namesake.
Definitely, a nice addition to your driving playlist if you are feeling just a bit naughty and horny!
5. Pink Cadillac – Natalie Cole
Originally a Bruce Springsteen hit, this song gained more traction when it was covered by Natalie Cole. As with Prince’s “Little Red Corvette”, this upbeat car-themed song celebrates fast love on the road. Play this along with Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” and a simple drive immediately becomes a sexy experience.
6. Drive My Car – The Beatles
There is perhaps no other act that could match the Beatles’ ability to create instant classics. In this song, the Beatles sing about the joys and tragedies of pursuing personal fame and pursuing a life on the road, forever chasing horizons. Anytime you can jam to a Beatles song is a good time to navigate the road.
7. Drive – Incubus
Brandon Boyd crafts this beautiful song as a meditation on overcoming fear. Instead of letting fear control one’s decisions and actions, one must learn to grab the steering wheel and therefore control one’s destiny. Open arms, open wide. Taking control over the steering wheel of life begins when one accepts and deals with one’s personal flaws.
8. Drive – The Cars
This slow, melancholic song is the perfect auditory companion during those late-night drives. On the lyrical level, the song is about encouraging one who has veered off life’s right path to regain control over one’s choices and decisions. There’s always room for one more friend and passenger when the long drive forward is dark and unclear.
9. You Can Sleep While I Drive – Melissa Etheridge
Melissa Etheridge’s song is the perfect fuel for anyone who feels stuck and stagnant. It is an invitation to take risks, get in one’s truck with a full tank and drive to where one’s dreams and aspirations are. Automobiles, after all, were invented so that we can explore the world and expand our personal experiences.
10. Joyride – Roxette
Roxette always delivers great energy in their songs. This playful pop-rock ditty is an awesome track to drive along, whether it’s down a busy boulevard or across an open-country highway. The riffs are as lively and hard-hitting as one’s foot on the accelerator! Don’t forget to check your brakes, though.
11. Nightcall – Kavinsky
French electro-house artist, Kavinsky’s song is featured in the neo-noir action film “Drive”, starring Ryan Gosling. It has become one of the more iconic songs associated with the retro-synth music culture associated with cars and 80s aesthetics. Synthwave is fast becoming a staple groove for driving.
12. Little Deuce Coupe -The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys painted a glamorous backdrop of the 1960s California surfer culture with this cute song celebrating the iconic Ford Model 18. Driving is best when the sun is golden, the breeze brisk, and the sound of ocean waves sets the pace and rhythm of the journey.
13. Big Empty – Stone Temple Pilots
The grunge era in music is renowned for its focus on themes of personal alienation and social disenfranchisement. This 1994 song from Stone Temple Pilots was first featured in Brandon Lee’s film, “The Crow”. It is perfect for those who turn to driving as a means to escape the dreariness of routine and habit.
14. Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol
This car radio staple celebrates the romantic notion of chasing after the impossible dream. Just like a dog gleefully chasing cars, we often do not know what to do with our aspirations if we do catch them. Chasing cars is a nice song that starts nice and slow, builds up to a cruise, and then settles nice and tight at the end.
15. Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane
Perhaps there is no other song that best represents the joyful freedom of movement a car can bring. Cochrane’s “Life is a Highway” is truly an ageless classic! This song playing in your car is perhaps one of the closest experiences one can have with the divine elements of the universe.
16 . Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Made famous in a musical of the same name and in a Jim Carrey comedy, this song is named after the sound a rickety car makes as it navigates an uneven terrain. It is a whimsical piece of music that appeals to adults as to children. You can’t just shake off those catchy lyrics!
17. Low Rider – WAR
This catchy funky flow of this song evokes the West Coast Latino car subculture. It celebrates the flashy but laid-back aesthetics of cars modified to go low and go slow. This song is an ideal inclusion into your playlist when you decide to chill, drive, and bring the briskness of life down to a relaxing crawl.
18. Highway to Hell – AC/DC
The opening gut-wrenching primal guitar riffs of this classic hit are instantly recognizable. It is the perfect anthem for touring on the road constantly, living from town to town, city to city, and embracing the grind. Rock and roll and cars are indeed a perfect match!
19. Drove All Night – Cyndi Lauper
Marked by a crystalline pop-rock maturity, particularly in Cyndi Lauper’s version, this song is about the hopelessness of one who gets into a car. driving great lengths to be united with a lover that cares little or cares nothing. This makes for a great accompanying song when you are driving with a broken heart and a heavy soul.
20 . Cars Hiss By My Window – The Doors
Jim Morrison vividly uses the imagery of cars passing by to highlight the melancholy and tragedy of one who is incapable of breaking free from the prison of his loneliness and lack of self-worth. The imagery of headlights and the crunch of cars contrasting with one’s immobility is truly a deep philosophical dive.
21. I’m In Love With My Car – Queen
Although this is one of its lesser-known songs of Queen, it is nonetheless an awesome track. Sung by drummer Roger Taylor, it highlights his great passion for his Alfa Romeo. Such is Taylor’s infatuation with his car that he included the revving sounds of his Alfa Romeo in the final section of the song.
22. Mercedez Benz – Janis Joplin
Mercedes Benz is a raw and unfiltered acapella by rock icon Janis Joplin. It highlights the sheer desire for hedonistic pleasure and material possessions, as represented by the luxurious Mercedes Benz brand of automobiles. Noteworthy is that the song was released just a few days prior to Joplin’s death.
23. Bitchin’ Camaro – The Dead Milkmen
The Dead Milkmen produced a quirky gem of a song that essentially parodies materialism and consumerism. This hardcore punk song. It is basically the rough mirror to The Beach Boys’ “Little Deuce Coupe”! Muscle cars and hardcore punk. Who would have thought that this pairing would make perfect sense?
24. Blue Tacoma – Russel Dickerson
This is a beautiful song that highlights the simple pleasure of getting into a car as plain and as mundane as a Toyota yet finding sheer joy at being one with nature, the wind, the ocean, and the road ahead. Driving is truly a social equalizer. Regardless of your circumstances, travel is always an exhilarating experience.
25. Mud on the Tires – Brad Paisley
You can’t get more country than a song about getting a loan to buy a pickup truck, drive it into the woods with your significant other, and then proceed to wreck it. Really, life can be ridiculously and hilariously petty as the lyrics of this song imply.
So, there you have it! Twenty-five great songs that you need to include in your playlist the next time you decide to finally drive across the country. Of course, you can always choose, curate, and customize your playlist to tell a better story of life in motion. There are songs that let you endure traffic gridlock.
There are songs best for slow and unhurried drives along backroads and small town paths. There are great songs for speed freaks who can’t get their feet off the pedal. And of course, there are larger-than-life anthemic songs that make those long drives across hundreds of miles truly worth the price in gas and effort.
The love affair between humanity and automobiles is such a powerfully intimate one. Such that countless songs have been created to either reference or directly describe this relationship.
As long as there are roads, whether these are blacktops or dirt roads, cars will always carry humanity to their preferred destinations. Far and wide, we will always extend the miles as we drive from the starting point that our birth to the endpoint of our death. And perhaps, there are more miles to navigate beyond our mortal lives.
Whatever our destination and whenever our location, we will always find the perfect beat, the perfect groove, the perfect piece of music to commemorate our journey. There are songs about cars, any car. And these are the same songs that serve as the fuel for our personal journeys through our greatest joys and our most painful tragedies.
Whatever your mood, whatever your circumstances, there is always the perfect car song for you. Drive safe!