By Charles Louis Dominguez ’14
As iconic as ice cream or bathing suits, road trips are easily likened to summer vacation, almost synonymous.
The adventures and memories promised by these endeavors are what make them so alluring.
As anyone who has ever crammed in to a car with their sweaty friends knows there are essential musts to any worthwhile car trip – one of them being music.
With the wrong sounds and vibes, a road trip can easily go from an exciting, memorable experience to a long and regrettable car ride.
“Another Travelin’ Song” – Bright Eyes
An upbeat folk-inspired track from Conor Oberst, this song details the story of a young man traveling the country. Oberst attacks some of the more notable aspects of life on the road and successfully captures the feel of simultaneous despair and adventure that’s typical of a road trip.
“Around the World” – Daft Punk
Daft Punk grooves in a way that keeps driving interesting and, even at seven minutes, “Around the World” still manages to captivate the attention of listeners.
This song demands attention in the form of toe-tapping and shoulder-dancing.
“Who’s That? Brooown!” – Das Racist
An early release from the now defunct hip-hop trio Das Racist, this song is fun epitomized.
If you and your friends know all the words, you’re in for a wondrous time. And hey, if you’re really feeling daring, you might even assign verses. But more likely than not, you’ll all just end up screaming the chorus.
That’s also great fun.
“I’ve Seen Footage” – Death Grips
With a beat that brings back the nostalgia of jazzercising, “I’ve Seen Footage” is an excellent song for any situation that has the potential to be a bore. Oddly danceable and endlessly fascinating, this song has layers of interesting instrumentation.
“Trades & Tariffs” – The Dodos
This song sounds like it might be used in an extremely generic film at its most profound moment.
Maybe the protagonist sits pensively by a lake or some other calm body of water. Maybe they run to apologize to the person they now know they will love for the rest of their life. Maybe they are riding their bike in no particular direction, searching for meaning.
The point is, this song is good and that protagonist could be you.
“Deadbeat Summer” – Neon Indian
2009 saw the release of “Deadbeat Summer,” an undeniably catchy ode to the kind of summer you’ve always wanted.
There’s a certain endearing quality within the synthesizers and bubbly backgrounds that enchants listeners and keeps them dancing.
“Chicago” – Sufjan Stevens
In 2005, Sufjan Stevens released “Illinois,” a concept album dedicated to the state that related its history to the singer-songwriter’s own personal experiences.
Stevens originally planned to release similar concept albums for all 50 states, but told Paste Magazine in 2009 after “Greetings from Michigan: The Great Lake State” and “Illinois” he realized he was in over his head.
Detailing the story of a young man on a road trip, “Chicago” is widely regarded as the album’s standout song.
With beautiful orchestration, storytelling, and dynamics, it’s perfect for any good road trip. This song is made even more appropriate if Chicago is your destination.
“I Left My Wallet In El Segundo” – A Tribe Called Quest
A hip-hop track with a story, the narrative of this cut from A Tribe Called Quest plays out like a teen-comedy from the 80s.
It begins as one of the member’s mothers leaves for a trip. They then borrow the family car without their mother’s knowledge and end up driving around until Q-Tip leaves his wallet in El Segundo.
“700,000,000 Miles” – Wolf in a Spacesuit
Distance is another essential facet of a road trip.
While 700,000,000 miles is an inconceivable distance, it’s hardly adventurous to barely make it outside of your block.
Wolf in a Spacesuit offers a mellow piece that would perfectly supplement a tense driving experience.
“Miss Alissa” – Eagles of Death Metal
This song sounds like movement. It sounds as though you should be going somewhere in an adventurous manner.
What are your essential road songs? Comment online or email firstname.lastname@example.org.