Music To Drive By

August 14, 2010 at 2:43 am (By Donna B.) (, )

Retriever asks for recommendations of good driving tunes to keep her and her co-drivers awake and happy.

Here’s the list I posted for her:

Charlie Mingus – Moanin’

Something fast light and airy from one of the elli’s (Locatelli, Corelli, Torelli, et al)

Grateful Dead – Deep Elem Blues

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Will the Circle Be Unbroken

Pump Boys & Dinettes – Vacation

Mormon Tabernacle Choir – The United States Marines Hymn

Mormon Tabernacle Choir – Hallelujah Chorus (despite bad video and spelling, it’s pretty good audio)

The Beach Boys – Barbara Ann

Earl Scruggs & Steve Martin – Foggy Mountain Breakdown – be careful… this one tends to encourage speeding!

Another one that triggers lead foot syndrome is the Ventures’ Wipeout.

John Philip Sousa – Stars & Stripes Forever

Janis Joplin – Brand New Key (I’m not sure what the title is… I got a brand new pair of roller skates, you got a brand new key…

Warren Zevon – Werewolves of London

Marty Robbins – Ghost Riders in the Sky

Roger Miller – King of the Road

and… as an afterthought for 55 mph driving: Massenet’s Meditation from Thais.

So…. what’s your favorite driving music?

Also posted at Opining Online.


  1. amba12 said,

    The juxtapositions are priceless!! Do you have a tape/disc with all that on it? You could almost market it — “Donna’s Driving Music.”

    I always got a kick out of “Werewolves of London,” which was played just about daily on my driving-rock station up in New York. I had never heard it back when it was released.

    Driving is akin to dancing, for me — a thing of kinesthetic coordination and rhythm. I drive better with music, especially energetic, driven rock. Music that is too demure or dreamy can make me sleepy. I have favorites (“Sultans of Swing,” e.g.) but prefer to be surprised by them on a radio station. When I have recorded them and made them do my bidding, they’re like broken, subdued circus animals plodding around the ring. Predictable expectation takes the joy out.

  2. Ron said,

    Other Warren Zevon worth a driving tape: “Stand in the Fire”, “Boom Boom Mancini”, “Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner”, “Desperados Under The Eaves”

    ZZ Top’s “Heard it on the X”

    Lots of Dick Dale….See chickelit for further detail.

    Let me think of more….

  3. Ron said,

    wait! More Zevon… “Lawyers, Guns and Money”, “Carmelita”, and “Mohammad’s Radio” (excellent to sing along to!)

  4. Icepick said,

    I’ve got a whole playlist called “Drive” for this purpose on my iPod. Just a few hundred songs at this point and horribly incomplete, but still worthwhile. I lean a little more twords hard rock/heavy metal, but I have a lot of the titles listed above. Also good for this purpose:

    Judas Priest’s “Headin’ Out to the Highway (Live)” and of course “Breakin’ the Law” (for getaways)

    Montrose’s “Bad Motor Scooter”

    Pretty much every other Sammy Hagar song, but especially “Heavy Metal”, “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and that song about stupid speed limits. (If I have to tell you the name of that last one you’re beyond hope, rock & roll-wise.)

    Motorhead’s “Louie Louie” (Lemmy’s vocals are the most understandable version of that song I’ve ever heard.)

    Ozzy Osbourne’s “No Bone Movies” and “Steal Away”. Also “No More Tears” if you’re drving during the evening in summer.

    Soundgarden’s last three albums if driving during summer.

    The B-52’s “Roam”. “Love Shack” and “Rock Lobster” also can work depending on mood.

    Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman” but only if you’re cruising.

    Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls”

    Pink Floyd’s “One of These Days” is good for releaving road rage.

    Robert Plant’s first two solo albums.

    Roy Orbison’s “Only the Lonely”

    Royksopp’s “Eple” and “Remind Me” (Most of you will know “Remind Me” as it was used by Geico for one of their Cave Man commercials. “Everywhere I go, there’s always something to remind me….”)

    Side one of Rush’s “Signals” album. Rush’s “Red Barchetta”, “Freewill” and “The Spirit of Radio”

    Run-DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis” Trust me, this works all year long!

    Marlene Dietrich’s “The Boys in the Back Room” and her parody of same.

    McCoy Tyner’s “Blues on the Corner” – any version, he’s recorded several versions.

    Most of Booker T & the MG’s catalogue, but “Green Onions” is a MUST.

    If you’re axious (or fleeing the police) the Butthole Surfer’s “Who was in my Room Last Night?” Also “Pepper” and “Cough Syrup” from Electric Larryland and “Dracula from Houston” for other non-law-breaking occassions.

    Cake’s “The Distance”

    The Cars “Shake It Up” and “Let the Good Times Roll”. (My daughter really likes these songs. You can trust her opinion – she’s ten weeks old and hasn’t become jaded yet.)

    The American Grafitti soundtrack.

    Del Shannon’s “Runaway” is great for singing along – everyone has fun doing the falsetto parts.

    Elastica’s “Car Song” But be careful, as that song is filthy!

    Gary Numan’s “Cars”

    George Clinton & Prince “We Can Funk”

    The Go Go’s “”Our Lips are Seeled” (their best song), “We Got the Beat” and “Vacation”

    Almost all Van Halen from the David Lee Roth Era, but especially the “Diver Down album – way under-appreciated by fans and critics.

    For another change of pace, Henry Mancini’s “Cat & Mouse” from the Victor/Victoria soundtrack. Also “Stop”.

    Jane’s Addiction’s “Ain’t No Right” – either version although I prefer the live version off Kettlewhistle.

    Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla” & “Don’t Fear the Reeper” – that last because you can never get enough cowbell!

    Jimi Hendrix’s “Stonefree”

    Joe Satriani’s “That Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing”

    LL Cool J’s “Milky Cereal” (Hysterical!) & “Jinglin’ Baby (Remixed but still Jinglin’)”

    Meat Puppets’ “Backwater”

    Ministry’s “Jesus Built My Hot Rod” (lyrics & vocals by Gibby Haynes – rock & roll’s greeatest accountant!)

    Missing Persons’ “Words” & Destination Unknown”

    The Monkees’ “Last Train to Clarksville”

    Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart (Live)”

  5. Michael Reynolds said,

    I find the soothing sounds of The Offspring’s BAD HABIT to be very nice while driving. Lyrics below:

    Hey man you know Im really okay
    The gun in my hand will tell you the same
    But when Im in my car
    Dont give me no crap
    Cause the slightest thing and I just might snap

    When I go driving I stay in my lane
    But getting cut off makes me insane
    I open the glove box
    Reach inside
    I gonna wreck this fucker’s ride

    I guess I got a bad habit
    Of blowin’ away
    Yeah I got a bad habit
    And it aint goin away

    Well they say the road’s a dangerous place
    If you flip me off Im the danger youll face
    You drive on my ass
    Your foot’s on the gas
    And your next breath is your last

    Drivers are rude
    Such attitudes
    But when I show my piece
    Complaints cease
    Somethings odd
    I feel like Im god
    You stupid dumbshit goddam motherfucker

  6. Icepick said,

    “I think I’ll dye my hair blue….” Yeah, I really love that chick from Missing Persons!

    Also R.E.M.’s “Radio Song” and “Shiny Happy People” amongst several others.

    Really the thing to do is to get an iPod, load up everything you’ve got and hit “Shuffle”. If whatever comes up is good go with it. If not hit “Next”. iPod’s shuffle feature was MADE for road trips!

  7. Icepick said,

    iPod comment notwithstanding, I also recommend Suicidal Tendencies “Institutionalized”.

    Also, lots of Tito Puente!

  8. Icepick said,

    Oh, and Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine’s version of “Down with the Sickness”.

    “Ooooooh shit!
    A-wah-ah-ah-ah! A-wah-ah-ah-ah!”

  9. Ron said,

    I love the Beatlesque “Baby I Can’t Please You” by Sam Phillips….good driving material!

  10. realpc said,

    Foggy Mountain Breakdown is my favorite banjo song, and it has taken 7 years for me to learn how to play it. I don’t like driving though. It makes me feel like people are trying to kill me. Especially the ones listening to music or talking on cell phones.

  11. Donna B. said,

    I had difficulty choosing between Foggy Mountain Breakdown and Sally Goodin’ and if I were to load up an iPod with my “perfect” driving list, they would both be on there.

    The theme to my list is that they make me smile. Sometimes wistfully (Vacation) and sometimes with a giggle. I can’t help it but “little old lady got mutilated late last night” always makes me giggle and sometimes that sort of worries me. Not too much though.

    I might hate driving if I lived in a different part of the country… say near San Francisco or Washington DC. I use those examples because I have hated driving there! But… the southwest is a great place to drive and I love the constantly changing scenery and wide open spaces.

    Often I will drive without listening to anything. I entertain myself by trying to locate where geography changes and how. For instance, between Shreveport and Dallas somewhere around Tyler, the landscape totally changes. The tall pines disappear, the land gets flatter… it’s fascinating to me.

  12. William O. B'Livion said,

    IMO music is the wrong thing to listen to to “keep you awake”. It’s too repetitious, and if you’re tired having it too loud is (for me at least) annoyingly unpleasant in a way beyond pain.

    The best thing to listen to is either talk radio if you have a good radio and antenna, or get CD books. You can get involved in even utterly crap stories, and as long as the reader isn’t monotone you can’t get as lost in it.

    I also don’t recommend burning the back of your hand with a cigeratte, it only keeps you up for another 10-15 minutes, then you have to do it again. That gets old fast.

  13. Donna B. said,

    William O. – if you look closely at my list you will see that it varies a lot and is therefore not repetitious. There are instrumental selections and vocal selections and some of the instrumentals have words that some of us listeners know…

    I am in agreement that loud is not the way to stay awake. Participation is. Most of the numbers I listed can be (and will be by me) sung along with or hummed along with. You might be surprised (or horrified) at the vocalizations I can come up with to some of those instrumentals :-)

    But… talk radio or books on tape tend to make me either drowsy or annoyed at the monotony of tone. I avoid talk radio because of both. I also avoid cable news channels on the same grounds.

    I find I can keep myself much more alert looking for the last specimen of tall pines, the first specimen of mesquite, or trying to identify the varying specimens of cacti… and where they first appear. And that’s just in Texas. When I’m confronted with the geology and geography of states like Colorado or Utah, the scenery more than keeps me awake.

    Driving at night is when I need the distraction of music. I can’t see the real landscape then and try to create one for myself with music.

    I would never say that my way of doing things is the only way. I have children and they have taught me otherwise. One of my daughters loves books on tape and another loves music that I cannot stand (I call it monotonous whininess). I have been on a few long trips with the second daughter and have always cast my vote for entertainment with my young granddaughter… for Elmo, Little Einsteins, or Finding Nemo again over the plaintive one chord laments of some of today’s popular vocal artists.

    My dislike of sameness and monotone droning isn’t limited to new or modern artists. It’s the reason I never liked Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan in years past. They are boring to listen to, even if they wrote a few things that are interesting to read.

    I’m sure that some might consider me a musical luddite – but I’m really not. My complaint about some (not all) of “today’s” music is that it is boring. It reminds me of the worst of the Gregorian chants more than anything else… repetitive, old-fashioned, uninspired, lacking energy… thus boring.

    Can any of my selections be accused of lacking energy? No… and that’s why they can help keep me awake.

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