Music to go

What music gets you going when you’re driving? Makes you tend to push the speed limit on the open road? Makes you dance in your seat at stoplights? Maybe even makes you, God forbid, sing along? Join the discussion in the comments below.


We always overpack for road trips, especially when it comes to music. And since we were flying to San Francisco before actually hitting the road, that meant cramming stacks of CDs—jazz [of course—including West Coast Jazz icon Stan Getz], classical, opera, rock, blues… And this mix CD.

I used to obsess over mix tapes for parties we’d throw, recording, erasing, rerecording until I got them just right. This CD was much more haphazard than that, thrown together last minute from our iTunes library, a spectacularly eclectic collection of music styles, tastes and sources, including music burned from our equally catholic vinyl collection.

A touch of the obsession remains, though. I bought one tune the night before we left that had to go on the disk. Had to.

So here it is, tune by tune, the first disk we popped into the rental car sound system as we left San Francisco. And it worked. When it started playing through a second time, we just let it.

1. On The Road Again, Canned Heat. This was the tune I had to buy, perhaps the ultimate road anthem by the ’60s California blues/rock band, with its harmonica-driven boogie over a drone borrowed from Eastern music for a perfect mystical touch. Not to be confused with the very different Willie Nelson hit. This YouTube video will give you a taste of their music—and of some of the dreadful psychedelic camera effects of the time.

2. Don’t Dream It’s Over, Crowded House. I don’t even remember how this ’80s tune found its way back into our consciousness this year, but its dreamy quality makes it a perfect track to follow Canned Heat.

3. Gimme Shelter, The Rolling Stones. Probably my favorite Stones song—nice and dark and dangerous, as much of the best rock & roll is.

4. Mystery Girl, Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Sexy punk from this New York band fronted by the alternately tough and girly Karen Oh.

5. Right About Now, The Mooney Suzuki. More New York music from this reliably fun garage punk band—almost as much energy as they deliver live.

6. Rehab, Amy Winehouse. Yeah, I know—I’ll bet she wishes any of her other songs had been her breakout hit. But even if her personal life is a trainwreck, there’s no denying the power of her voice. The song is also a great example of how Brits are keeping 60s-style American soul music alive, long after our own country has turned its back on it.

7. Bang The Drum All Day, Todd Rundgren. The only decent thing Rundgren ever recorded, but it is soooo good. Whenever it comes on, we always crank the volume.

8. I Only Have Eyes For You, The Flamingos. Okay, this is the one unabashedly, uncomplicatedly romantic tune on the whole disk. We love it.

9. When The Levee Breaks, Led Zeppelin. Another gift from the Brits: They gave us back blues music, yet another uniquely American art form we’d walked away from.

10. Bela Lugosi’s Dead, Bauhaus. Call them goth, glam, post-punk or whatever, this dark epic [almost 10 minutes long] would be an impressive debut for any band.

11. Breakdown, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. One critic called Petty’s debut album “tuneful jangle balanced by a tough garage swagger.” This song is what that sounds like.

12. Let’s Work Together, Canned Heat. When I was buying On The Road Again, I saw this one. I couldn’t resist.

13. Ex-Lion Tamer, Wire. I’m always a sucker for Brit punk, and these guys do it right, fast and loud. This is a track from their 1977 album Pink Flag—it blasts through 22 songs in less than 37 minutes.

14. Ecstasy, Rusted Root. More trippy hippie music, perfect for a California road trip, by way of… Pittsburgh?

15. Chains, The Cookies. Any good mix CD can always be made a little better with some ’60s girl group music.

16. Bye Bye Blackbird, Joe Cocker. Leave it to Mr. Cocker to turn a bouncy 1920s pop tune into a soulful, melancholy love song. Beautiful.

17. Sweet Dreams, Roy Buchanan. A wonderfully haunting solo guitar version of the Patsy Cline standard. We first came across it playing over the closing credits of the Scorsese film The Departed.


Okay, your turn. What are your favorite tunes to go? Music only, please. No talk radio, not even [and perhaps especially not] NPR.


9 Responses to “Music to go”

  1. Toni Says:

    Got some Joss Stone, some Keb Mo, Counting Crows version of Big Yellow Taxi, an old Pointer Sisters (Jump), some tunes from Love Actually (Take Me As I Am) and throw in some Al Green for old times sake.

    Why haven’t I thought of adding Joe Cocker? Duh!! I’d probably pick With A Little Help From My Friends.

    Love your choices, of course……….;-)

  2. Terry B Says:

    Also cool choices, Toni. We’ve got Jump on a 45! And Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together is one of the best songs ever. Period.

  3. Steve Says:

    Right on for Al Green. Maybe add Love and Happiness. A little Aretha and James Brown will always make you glad to be where you happen to be.

    For the trip back, try 10 Years After’s “Goin’ Home”.

  4. Terry B Says:

    Steve—How could I forget “Love and Happiness”? Toots Hibbert of Toots & the Maytals did an excellent cover of it, by the way. And you’re totally right about Aretha and James Brown. In fact, a whole soul/Motown disk would be great road music. Another good going home sort of tune would also be Golden Earring’s “Radar Love.”

  5. Steve Says:

    Ah, Toots. 54-46 That’s My Number.

    And Radar Love can work pretty well even when you’re not going home 🙂

    Great thread!

  6. Mimi Says:

    It must be upbeat. Butt-kicking rock ‘n’ roll in the summer, jazz in fall and winter, light classical in the spring. Never, but never country. The music isn’t bad, but the lyrics don’t cut it with me.

  7. Terry B Says:

    Mimi—We tend to mix most genres on the same trip. And I agree, upbeat is good. Except when we were on a particularly twisty, narrow stretch of Highway 1, south of Big Sur. Then some big, slow-moving, orchestral classical was called for.

    Regarding country, I mostly agree. But on occasion, a little Patsy Cline or Hank Williams [not Jr. or III, the original] works just fine.

  8. Carolyn Says:

    Ozomatli’s Street Signs CDs. Omigosh, NOTHING can make the road more welcome!

  9. Song Lyrics » Archive du blog » Music to go What’s on the kitchen boombox? Says:

    […] A blogger compiled some interesting notes about Music to go What’s on the kitchen boombox?Have a look at this […]

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