Travel and music: Two of my passions. One almost always makes me think about the other. When I pack for a trip, before I think about clothes, I think about what music I will bring. There’s too much about the entire subject of travel tunes, road trip music, vacation songs, to cover in one blog. It’s a bit overwhelming to think about.
We have music for: leaving home, coming home, moving or staying. We have music for trucking, biking, hiking, riding, driving, boating and flying. There are long lonesome highway songs for solo trips or happy sing-along songs for family vacations.
There are songs about cross-country explorations, exotic destinations and global nations. Many songs have been recorded about boats, RVs, trains, planes and automobiles. We use music for our highways and byways, toll roads and freeways, back roads and interstates.
Out of state visitors bring travel tunes about Arizona. What’s the first song that comes to mind when you think of Arizona road trips? Is it Take It Easy from the Eagles? By the Time I Get to Phoenix from Glen Campbell? Several songs are entitled, “Arizona” – most popular are those from Mark Lindsay, Kings of Leon and The Scorpions. Hundreds of popular songs give a simple reference Arizona — a lot about Tucson: “…take me down to Tucson…” or “…all roads lead back to Tucson…”
Great vacation memories can be created with music. It’s another form of souvenir. Those slack key guitar tunes bring back images of Hawaii. Reggae, ska and calypso remind me of Caribbean islands. Many of us have a loaded up a separate playlist for each aspect of traveling – for soaking rays on the beach, sitting around the campfire or driving along desolate highways. Travel songs have the ability to prompt a personal memory. For instance, whenever I hear Allman Brothers: Jessica, I’m always reminded of driving through northwestern Ohio at sunrise, on my way from home back to college. Another Allman Brothers song: Little Martha, makes me think of a sunset drive along a stretch of State Route 288 between Young and Globe.
Road-trip music also has a practical side. It can keep us awake if we’re getting sleepy. In the days before Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy and Starbucks Double Shot Espresso, we’d have to turn up the volume on the radio, 8-track, cassette tape or CD player. Or sing — yikes! We’d have to pop in a song to energize us while that truck stop coffee was still taking effect. Songs like Golden Earring’s Radar Love have kept many night drivers alert. What worked for me: Poco’s Grand Junction, Tom Cochrane’s Life is a Highway or Little Feat’s Let It Roll. They create a high energy highway driving mood.
When traveling to my favorite weekend getaway spots, I like to compile songs about the journeys and the destinations: Songs from Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers for Puerto Penasco. Mark Mulligan’s music for San Carlos. Then I mix in some Mariachi and traditional Mexican music to enjoy while I’m there. For beach escapes, I combine indigenous island musical styles and artists with popular ex-pat, ‘trop rock’ or ‘island country’ anthems.
Hundreds of music databases containing thousands of songs with dozens of key words are there for the exploring. You can come up with your favorite travel tunes playlists. Check websites and blogs for lists of music. Look at others’ compilations on iTunes or Spotify. One website has 885 road trip songs to review.
Here are some of my favorite travel tunes — they’re recordings that make me think of traveling, destinations, or its music I just like to listen to while driving down the road.
Americano – Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers
Back to the Island – Leon Russell
Blood Pressure – Mute Math
Blue Boat Home – Peter Mayer
Boats – Kenny Chesney
Calamity Song – The Decemberists
The Coast – Court Yard Hounds
Counterclockwise – Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers
Dig a Little Deeper – Peter Bjorn
Eastern Standard Time – Skatalites
El Rayo-X – David Lindley
Evangelina – Hoyt Axton
Grand Junction – Poco
Hana – Ozzie Kotani
Heaven or the Highway out of Town – Refreshments
Hitchin a Ride – Green Day
Ho Hey – Lumineers
Island in the Sun – Weezer
Last Ride In – Green Day
Little Martha – Allman Brothers
Love is the Seventh Wave – Sting
Manana – Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers
Mercury Blues – David Lindley
Olinda Road – Hapa
Place in the Sun – Darden Smith
Roam – B52s
Soak up the Sun – Sheryl Crow
Texas Tango — David Lindley
These Roads Don’t Move – Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard
Toes – Zac Brown Band
Up Up Up – Givers
Welcome to Paradise – Green Day
What I Got – Sublime
You are a Tourist – Death Cab for Cutie
Readers: what’s on your road trip playlist? Or your flight mix? Please use the comment section below. I’m always looking for new music for traveling!
Bio: One of Nancy Garrett’s favorite journalism jobs was as writer-editor-photographer for an Arizona travel magazine. She hopes to develop that same sense of passion with her blog, AZGetawayTravel, where she writes about her travel experiences, travel tips, recommended destinations, lodging and restaurants. She also shares travel deals. Destinations and evaluations are based solely on personal preferences. No free lodging, food or other gifts are accepted in association with her entries.
Garrett, an Ohio native, moved to Arizona in 1978 and has lived in Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert and Show Low. She attended graduate school at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She and her husband have traveled throughout the United States and to Costa Rica, Mexico, Canada and the Bahamas.