Soundtrack for a route 66 Drive
February 24, 2009 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Two music lovers traveling all of Route 66 from Chicago to LA. Help me build the perfect iPod soundtrack for every step of the way!

This July my wife and I are traveling Route 66, starting at its beginning in Chicago, taking it down all the way to LA, then driving back at a more established route. We are both the type to enjoy music in the car, and we are going to have about 46 hours in the car over the span of 12 days, so I'm starting to plan music NOW.

What I'd like is music that is either perfect road trip music or music that epitomizes our current location at a given time.

For example, given the similarity of our trip to the Griswalds, I have Lindsey Buckingham's "Holiday Road" to start.

Trying to avoid the major cliches like Radar Love and On The Road Again.

So far as music tastes, I'm very Pop/Rock/Metal/Hip Hop, she's Alternative/Pop/Hair Metal/grunge. Neither of us are really into country unless it's crossover country (a'la some Garth Brooks or Taylor Swift stuff).

So help me fill my iPod with tunes to keep the trip fun and interesting, and preferably something able to be found without a huge scavenger hunt for the track.
posted by arniec to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Hey, this is a great idea!

One thing I can immediately think of is my favorite version of the song "Route 66", which is by Charles Brown. I know using that song might be a little cliche, but it's a classic.

I personally love driving to B.B. King; even though your tastes might not overlap with the Blues feel, give the B.B. King / Eric Clapton album a try. It's a great album for the road.

If you're looking for "Road Trip" specific songs, one I can recommend which might fit into both your and your wife's tastes is "Road Trippin'" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I think it's off Californication, but not sure. I'd also recommend all of Stadium Arcadium as driving music.

If you're looking for some Hip Hop, I'm a huge fan of Talib Kwali or Pete Philly and Perquisite as driving music. They're pretty different, but both very intelligent rappers who have interesting things to say.

And if your wife is into Alternative music, I'd recommend Broken Social Scene, some Kings of Leon and some Raconteurs, all of which have some great tunes for driving.

And, finally, if you're willing to branch out and maybe try some electronic music, I would recommend some Ratatat (specifically "Wildcat"), some MGMT, maybe some JUSTICE and, of course, some Daft Punk (specifically "Robot Rock", which I think might merge into your taste for rock).

All right, I think that's all I can think of for now. Hope this helps, and drive safely!
posted by Twevy at 8:32 AM on February 24, 2009

Wilco is a Chicago band that started in St. Louis, so that would work for the drive through Illinois. Uncle Tupelo would be good too. When you cross over from Illinois to St. Louis, you'll want to start in with the Chuck Berry, which is classic Route 66 driving music. Crossing from Missouri to Oklahoma puts you in dodgy musical territory, but the great Flaming Lips are from Tulsa, so go nuts with The Soft Bulletin.

By the time you hit Amarillo Texas, you could be listening to The Old 97s.

New Mexico? I got nothing.

When you hit Santa Monica Boulevard, the final stretch, why not a Californian medley? "California" by Dressy Bessy, "California Soul" by Marlena Shaw, "California Floating in Space" by Call and Response, "California Dreaming", "Southern California" by Wax and "California" by Phantom Planet.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:45 AM on February 24, 2009

It's a historic route so you might use the opportunity to explore the history of American music. Throw in some dust bowl folk, Kansas City Blues, and West Coast Jazz. Keep your current rock/pop for the long stretches, but keep a historic playlist when you feel like tuning in with previous Route 66 travelers.
posted by pb at 8:47 AM on February 24, 2009

I'll tell ya, the music from the tv show "Supernatural" has some really amazing driving road-trip music as the characters spend every episode driving to a new location. I would definitely check that out.

As for songs I would personally recommend for driving:
Bad Company - Running with the Pack
Bad Company - Movin' On
Joe Walsh - Turn to Stone
Toto - Stranger in Town
Joe Walsh - Rocky Mountain Way
Joe Walsh - Walk away
Billy Squire - Two Daze Gone
Nazareth - Hair of the Dog
Nazareth - Miss Misery
Boston - Higher Power
Boston - Foreplay / Long time
Boston - Don't look back
Rush - Fly by Night
Rush - Working Man
Mott and the Hoople - Ready for Love
Guns and Roses - Sympathy for the Devil
Blue Oyster Cult - Godzilla
Blue Oyster Cult - Take me Away
Bob Seger - Lucifer
Bob Seger - 2+2=
James Gang - Walk Away
Kansas- Carry On my Wayward Son
Journey - Wheel in the Sky
REO Speedwagon - Back on the Road again
Ozzy Osbourn - Road to Nowhere
.38 Special - Hittin' and Runnin'
Styx - Renegade

and really, anything by Bad Company, Blue Oyster Cult, Boston, or ZZ Top you'll be good.
posted by gwenlister at 8:51 AM on February 24, 2009

For maximum connection to Route 66, I would go for music from the period (40s and 50s) and match up with the geography. Blues in Chicago, western swing through the Southwest, swinging jazz as you get to LA.

Listen to all the modern stuff on the interstate on the way back.
posted by quarterframer at 8:56 AM on February 24, 2009

This is cheesy, but Jackson Browne's "Take it Easy" has a line about standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona. . . .
posted by Danf at 9:04 AM on February 24, 2009

Jill Sobule's "Somewhere in New Mexico," I recommend playing it somewhere around Tucumcari. Pixies "Motorway to Roswell."
posted by answergrape at 9:17 AM on February 24, 2009

We love the Johnny Handsome Soundtrack for road trips, especially through the desert. Ry Cooder at his best. There is one left here.
posted by snowjoe at 9:43 AM on February 24, 2009

"Thumbelina", by the Pretenders. An overlooked road trip classic.
posted by kestrel251 at 10:00 AM on February 24, 2009

Hit if you want to hear them...

Greg Brown - Brand New 64 Dodge... slow driving stretch, preferably while wearing sunglasses...
Bob Dylan - Maggie's Farm... you absolutely need to peel out of a diner or gas station when this song starts...
Leonard Cohen - Waiting for the Miracle... go for a little Natural Born Killers feel for your ride...
G. Love - Peace Love and Happiness...
Los Fabulosos Cadilacs - Matador...
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:05 AM on February 24, 2009

Some Road Songs - courtesy of the US DOT, Federal Highway Administration. An A-Z listing of several hundred to chose from.
posted by X4ster at 10:28 AM on February 24, 2009

Here is Billy Bragg singing "The A13 - Trunk Route to the Sea" - a British take on Route 66.
posted by rongorongo at 10:51 AM on February 24, 2009

Life is a Highway I like the Rascall Flats version from CARS (which took place on Rt 66)
posted by legotech at 10:53 AM on February 24, 2009

The Shins were from New Mexico (before they moved to Portland, OR), so maybe check them out after you cross the Texas border. (I think the Flaming Lips in OK is critical . . . as would be Buddy Holly in the Texas panhandle.)

But also, almost anything by Calexico would be quite appropriate from N.Mex to Cali.
posted by deejay jaydee at 12:12 PM on February 24, 2009

"Get your kicks on Route 66"!

"By the Time I Get to Phoenix" by Glenn Campbell (perhaps on the trip back)

"Chicago" by Sufjan Stevens (maybe not rocking enough, but beautiful)

Isn't "Take it Easy" by the Eagles? Or did JB do a cover?

Speaking of Dylan: "Highway 61"

"Going the Distance" by Cake (try not to speed through Oklahoma, they are really serious. Seriously!)

How about some Tenacious D? "Tribute" and "Wonderboy"

Speaking of "Tribute," how about "The Devil Went Down to Georgia"

"Ghost Riders in the Sky" for those big open spaces. (Johnny Cash version)

And "Riders on the Storm" by the Doors

"Si si, je suis un Rock Star" by Bill Wyman (lighthearted song about travels)

"Let the Monkey Drive" by Sparks (you can have your fun out on Highway 1!)

"Catch My Disease" by Ben Lee (good groovin'

"Diablo Rojo" by Rodrigo y Gabriela for truckin' through the Southwest

Oh, and "Road to Nowhere" by Talking Heads, if not too cliche for you. Also "Psychokiller" to remind you not to pick up hitchhikers.

"Back in the USSR" the Beatles

"Mexican Radio" by Authority Zero

"Song 2" by Blur Woo hoo!
posted by m0kingb1rd at 12:32 PM on February 24, 2009

Willin' by Little Feat:
"I've been from Tuscon to Tucumcari, Tehachapi to Tonopah"
posted by fogovonslack at 2:50 PM on February 24, 2009

I'd throw "Pride of San Jacinto" from The Reverend Horton Heat in there for the Texas leg.

I sooo want to do this trip someday. I've done most of Arizona's Rt. 66 and some of it in other states. I'd love to spend two weeks. If you can, save a day for the Grand Canyon. And make sure to stop at the Grand Canyon Caverns while in our beautiful state, home of the longest intact stretch of 66 left.
posted by azpenguin at 4:17 PM on February 24, 2009

On your way out of Chicago (on the Stevenson), at about Bolingbrook, you will put on your sunglasses. At the same time you will put in the soundtrack from the Blues Brothers. If you time it properly, and if there is little traffic, just about as you pass Joliet, the second track will begin. When that one ends, you are allowed to jump ahead to track 11.

It is bad luck to start out a Route 66 roadtrip in any other fashion.

Sir Paul McCartney agrees.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:35 PM on February 24, 2009

Wilco's "Via Chicago"
posted by saul wright at 11:25 PM on February 24, 2009

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