Summer means barbecues, beaches, sleeping in and wearing next to nothing, but the best part of the season is the annual road trip (although, seeing people wearing next to nothing is a close second) taken by many across the vast country of ours. Even the least experienced road trippers know to pack clothes and munchies, but pulling out of your driveway without the proper soundtrack can make those boring ass drives across Nebraska (think the 5, but with even less to look at) make you wonder what in the hell Kerouac saw in this shit.
Once you've got your tunes in order, it's crucial that you create a playlist that helps set a mood. Take me for example. I'm not a morning person. In fact, I almost punched one of my best friends during a brutal Texas morning for no other reason other than I was awake. To remedy this, I start with something that will wake me up without a bunch of screaming and yelling because, sure, I love Black Sabbath. Just not at nine in the morning.
On the flipside, I always make sure to save my sing-alongs for when the sun goes down. This is important because when you're out there on a two-lane road to nowhere, the only thing preventing you from becoming one of those homemade crosses on the side of the highway and seeing your destination is the ability to stay focused. Again, for me, this is all about singing.
Here's what I'd do if I was hitting the road today. I'd love to know what others have in mind because I'm always up for adding new tunes to my road trip rotation.
You're going to want to start the day kinda mellow but kinda upbeat and
there's no better band in the history of music for that sort of
dichotomy than the Smiths. Sure, you could get behind the wheel at 7
a.m. and crank some bangin' Dr. Dre tracks, but where do you go from
there? No where. That's where. Instead, the Smiths are like half-caf
coffee. A nudge in the right direction, if you will. I dig the band's Singles compilation,
which starts with “Hand in Glove.” From there you get all the hits and
by the time you get to “William, It Was Really Nothing,” the gorgeous
sun is illuminating the beautiful landscape and you wonder just what in
the hell Morrissey's problem was.
Once Morrissey and company have got you wide awake, it's time to turn it up a bit. This is when I go for Cibo Matto. Viva! La Woman
will work just fine and with songs such as “Apple,” “Beef Jerky,”
“Birthday Cake” and “Know Your Chicken,” it'll also get you in the mood
for breakfast. But beware: You will most definitely look like a fool as
you attempt to drive and dance to this record, which will make at least
one other driver call 911 and report a potential DUI.
Just like swimming after a large meal, it's important to not get too
amped up after eating if you're sitting in a car all day. I could go
into graphic detail about what I'm getting at, but instead I'll say
this: Chuck Berry will get your body moving in all the right ways and
none of the wrong. On my iTunes, Berry's first greatest hits is listed
as “unclassifiable,” but if it was up to me, I'd say songs such as
“Maybellene,” “Too Much Monkey Business” and “Reelin' And Rockin'” are
not only the epitome of rock 'n' roll, but a must-have for any
The sun is at its peak and you're still hundreds of miles from wherever
you're going. You're going to need a pick-me-up and the truckers bought
all the speed at the previous rest area, but don't fret because now is
the ideal time to throw in Appetite for Destruction. This record
has been written about millions of times, but one thing no one ever
discusses is how this 12-song album was designed for road trips because
there are no letdowns on this. We kick some ass with “Welcome to the
Jungle” and from there we kick even more ass on each upcoming track.
Axl, Slash, Steven, Duff and Izzy didn't water down this record with a
bunch of weak shit, which translates into the equivalent of a mid-day
cup of coffee. I mean, even the supposed ballad “Sweet Child O' Mine” is
ballsier than anything on rock radio these days.
You're going to want to carry on with the adrenaline rush started by
Guns N' Roses and the only band that could possibly keep up with that
momentum is AC/DC. Put on Highway to Hell and get outta the way because this record smokes in a way that might overheat your engine if you aren't careful.
Too spooky to listen to when you're driving a two-lane road with nothing but the stars providing lights, Thriller is
a great transition from the two previous guitar-heavy records into
something a bit smoother without losing any of that required sing-along
ability. Even dudes who carve “Slayer” into their arms think “Wanna Be
Startin' Something” and “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) are bad ass and you
don't want to mess with dudes who carve “Slayer” into their arms, do
Do you need to be reminded that Elvis is the king of rock & roll? Or
that he's more American than baseball and apple pie? No, you don't, so
put him on — it doesn't matter what songs or records — breathe in
through the nostrils and take a moment to recognize how you are
listening to our greatest musical asset while more than likely driving
through the sort of podunk town Presley was born in.
Punk rock and sing-alongs don't exactly go hand in hand, but the Misfits
broke that rule thanks to songs such as “Horror Business,” “I Turned
Into A Martian,” “Astro Zombies” and “20 Eyes.” Like Alkaline Trio
singer/guitarist Matt Skiba sings on his band's “We've Had Enough,” “Put
Walk Among Us on and turn it up!”
On Get Rich Or Die Tryin', Fiddy starts off way hard with “What
Up Gangsta” and never takes his foot off the accelerator, which just so
happens to be exactly what you need when you've been driving all goddamn
day and you still aren't there yet. You can rap along at the top of
your lungs and bop your head to the sick ass beats, two ways that not
only keep you going but make the 75 miles it takes to listen to this
record move much quicker than had you chosen Boz Scaggs. If you don't
own Get Rich Or Die Tryin' (and why don't you if you don't?), Snoop's Doggystyle, Biggie's Ready to Die or Jay-Z's The Black Album will all do the trick.
Coast to Coast
The only way to get through those late nights, the ones that make the
final 150 miles feel like you're walking to Kansas instead of driving,
is by listening to Coast to Coast AM. Sure, host George Noory ain't Art
Bell but he knows that. You can pick up Coast to Coast AM whether you're
east or west of the Rockies and you'll be glad you can when some caller
from Ohio claims he has Bigfoot coming over for dinner tomorrow.