Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published July 7th 2021
Driving music for that road trip
Having done a list of highway songs and a list of street songs, it's time to wrap this theme up with a list of road songs. The reason this one is last is that this was the hardest list to cut down to a reasonable number. Lots of song listening, which is never a bad thing. But it did take me a while, so, eventually, here it is.
So, roads. As I said previously, many roads where I live are dirt roads, and when I lived in the state's capital they were the larger connecting thoroughfares. Roads sit in that nebulous definition zone between streets and highways. I think, though, you know a road when you're on it. And there's not much more to say.
Okay, rules for this list. The normal rules apply one song per artist, one version of each song, I need to like them plus no songs about crossroads, roadrunners, roadhouses, or rocky road ice cream. Also, songs only released as live versions (e.g. Eric Clapton's 'Further On Up The Road') were excluded. That helped me get this list down to this length. Still, a lot of other great tracks were left out for reasons of brevity.
Anyway Road songs! For a road trip! Okay, that's probably pushing it, but here's the list.
'Forty Miles Of Bad Road' by Duane Eddy (1959)
Why not start with an instrumental by one of the best rock guitarists to have played? One of his many great tunes, one that is not really remembered today, but which should be.
I was actually tempted to put the version by The Proclaimers here, but they really just do a note perfect version, so let's go to the original, and one of the first songs I learnt on the guitar. Nifty little tune.
'On The Road Again' by Canned Heat (1968)
With that weird muted harmonica sound, this song always struck me as something different. Rock-blues, it is an interesting song by a band that is all but forgotten today.
'Take Me Home, Country Roads' by John Denver (1971)
Come on, you knew this one had to be here! Denver's signature tune, it is one that even people who don't like country music like. A song that demands you sing along. By the way, the title changes depending on where you look. Sometimes it had 'Road' (singular), sometimes it is just called 'Take Me Home', and I cannot find a definitive answer, so I used the one I have most often.
'Six Days On The Road' by The Flying Burrito Brothers (1972)
This is a cover, yes, I know, but it is my favourite version of this song, by the band that took the Byrds' country-rock and really upped the ante with it, and another band all but forgotten.
'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' by Elton John (1973)
A song about the downside of fame and the title track of one of Elton John's best albums, this is considered an all-time classic and deservedly so.
'Thunder Road' by Bruce Springsteen (1975)
A slower song from the Boss, the opening track from his break-through Born To Run album, this is regarded as one of his best songs and rightfully so. It is so incredible.
'Bright Side Of The Road' by Van Morrison (1979)
Van Morrison in happy mode, something we are seeing less and less of as the years go by. But, when he wanted, he knew how to get you dancing.
'On The Road Again' by Willie Nelson (1980)
When this song came out, I was in primary school, and we all loved it and learnt the words pretty quickly. We had no idea what it meant it's about enjoying touring, for what it's worth but it was just music that resonated.
'Telegraph Road' by Dire Straits (1982)
From the awesome Love Over Gold album, this long song is the centrepiece and is just an amazing display of the band at its finest. Beautiful track.
'Holiday Road' by Lindsey Buckingham (1983)
The theme song from the film Vacation, this jaunty track goes along with the R-rated comedy so well, and Buckingham sounds like he's having fun.
'The Old Man Down The Road' by John Fogerty (1984)
From Fogerty's "comeback" album Centrefield, this resulted in Fogerty being sued because he was accused of plagiarising his own music, a case which he eventually won. Good. This is a great track from a great album.
'Road To Nowhere' by Talking Heads (1985)
One of those songs that I bought the extended 12" mix of as well as its source album (Little Creatures), this is one of Talking Heads' best-known tracks. They released great music consistently throughout their time as a band, and this is a definite highlight.
'Down The Road Tonight' by Bruce Hornsby & The Range (1986)
The Way It Is was one of my favourite albums when it came out, and this is one of many great tracks on it, but I sort of lost track of what Hornsby did as the years went on. Still, that album and songs like this are great anyway.
Wonderful song, the title track of an album that sort of slipped under the radar a bit. Problem was, 1987 had so many great songs that maybe this was a casualty of that. Still, great track.
'Copperhead Road' by Steve Earle (1988)
A song about bootlegging, and then growing drugs, this is one of my favourite songs. I love the way it builds up from mandolin to full band, and really like the story the lyrics tell. So good.
'Bondi Road' by Dragon (1989)
Title track from one of the final recordings Dragon did before lead singer Marc Hunter passed away, the whole album is actually quite good, and this is one of the stand-out tracks on it.
'Old Town Road' by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus (2019)
And we jump ahead 30 years (!) to a recent song that really got me. The original was okay, but a year later when this remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus was released, I was hooked. While not one of my best of 2019, it was still really good.
20 road songs. And I think there might be something for everyone, with a lot of eighties, more country than I'm used to putting into a list, a heap of early stuff, some 70s and even a recent song. I hope you found something you enjoyed, and thanks for reading.