Songs about traveling!
May 18, 2006 9:52 AM   Subscribe

Hi! I'm looking to compile a list of travel-oriented songs in any genre, specifically ones that hit on the independent, vagabonding, adventure, exploration style of traveling. Let's hear your suggestion!
posted by nitsuj to Media & Arts (56 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Wherever I May Roam -- Metallica (haha)
Movin' Right Along - The Muppets
posted by knave at 9:55 AM on May 18, 2006

Best answer: Well, one of the best songwriters in the world has a series of songs about travelling all over the place for reasons as diverse as contract killing, love affairs, and nostalgia. Visit The Mountain Goats website and you can see a list. (The link goes right to the G section of the song catalog since most of these songs are called Going to XXX, but there are others without that prefix throughout his catalog.) It doesn't get much more independent than most of these Mt. Goats songs.
posted by OmieWise at 9:58 AM on May 18, 2006

Horse with no Name, by I-forget
Rambling Man, Lemon Jelly
Standing Still, Jewel
posted by whatzit at 9:58 AM on May 18, 2006

A13 Trunk Road To the Sea - Billy Bragg
Route 90 - Lazy Cowgirls
posted by pdb at 10:05 AM on May 18, 2006

Two of Us, Beatles
Get Out the Map, Indigo Girls
Road Buddy, Dar Williams
I've Been Everywhere, Johnny Cash
On the Road Again, Willie
Keep the Customer Satisfied, Simon and Garfunkel
Marrakesh Express , CSN
posted by Miko at 10:08 AM on May 18, 2006

The World at Large - Modest Mouse
posted by gd779 at 10:09 AM on May 18, 2006

I'm goin back to cali, ll
jackson, johnny cash
posted by poppo at 10:10 AM on May 18, 2006

On the Road - Canned Heat
Road Trippin' - Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Highway Chile - Jimi Hendrix
Ramble On - Led Zeppelin
America - Simon & Garfunkel
posted by TwoWordReview at 10:13 AM on May 18, 2006

Route 66 - lots of versions
(too obvious?)
posted by clh at 10:17 AM on May 18, 2006

King of the Road - Roger Miller
Walkin' After Midnight - Patsy Cline
posted by mochapickle at 10:20 AM on May 18, 2006

"King of the Road" by Roger Miller is the grandaddy of 'em all!
posted by scody at 10:21 AM on May 18, 2006

(jinx, mochapickle!)
posted by scody at 10:22 AM on May 18, 2006

Tom Petty:
Running Down a Dream
Last Dance With Mary Jane
posted by tentacle at 10:27 AM on May 18, 2006

do-re-mi by woody guthrie....its about traveling to California during the depression
posted by TheLibrarian at 10:29 AM on May 18, 2006

Everclear: Santa Monica
posted by Otis at 10:29 AM on May 18, 2006

I've Been Everywhere, Johnny Cash

The inverse:
I Ain't Goin' Nowhere, Rick Moranis


Travellin' Light, Various but I've always been fond of Billie Holiday
posted by Joe Schlabotnik at 10:32 AM on May 18, 2006

truckers atlas -- modest mouse
pretty much the whole "Charm of the Highway Strip" by the Magnetic Fields.
posted by milarepa at 10:36 AM on May 18, 2006

Roam by the B-52s
posted by jrossi4r at 10:38 AM on May 18, 2006

Sort of on this line-- Road to Nowhere by the Talking Heads.
posted by oflinkey at 10:38 AM on May 18, 2006

Roger Waters, The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking:

We were moving away from the border
Looking for somewhere to sleep
The two of us sharing the driving
Two hitchhikers slumped in the back seat

I sneaked a quick look in the mirror
She gave me a smile
I said, "Is anyone hungry?
Should we stop for a while?"

So we pulled off into a layby
Her dress blew up over her head
I said, "Would you like to come with me?"
She said something foreign under her breath

And the sun shone down on her lovely young limbs
I thought to myself she's too good for him
I lay down beside her with tears in my eyes
She said...

posted by Khalad at 10:52 AM on May 18, 2006

Hobo's Lullaby - Arlo Guthrie
posted by clarkstonian at 10:52 AM on May 18, 2006

Long, Lonesome Highway - Michael Parks
The Road - Jackson Browne
posted by clarkstonian at 10:56 AM on May 18, 2006

California- Phantom Planet
posted by Maishe at 11:15 AM on May 18, 2006

Climb Every Mountain from The Sound Of Music.
posted by chocolatepeanutbuttercup at 11:16 AM on May 18, 2006

The anarcho-folk band Ghost Mice put out an entire album documenting their trip through Europe, appropriately titled "Europe". It's quite enjoyable, especially if you enjoy french fries. They're cool with the file sharing, so if you'd like a copy contact me and we can figure something out.
posted by SteveFlamingo at 11:17 AM on May 18, 2006

I can't believe nobody's mentioned:
Born to be Wild, by Steppenwolf
posted by CrunchyFrog at 11:27 AM on May 18, 2006

I can't believe nobody's mentioned (okay, not really):
Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Songs of Travel" set to poems by Robert Louis Stevenson. Specifically, "The Vagabond", which, well, fairly closely conforms to your request for vagabondish travel songs.
posted by cacophony at 11:36 AM on May 18, 2006

I've Got a Name, by Jim Croce
posted by CrunchyFrog at 11:43 AM on May 18, 2006

I've compiled many a road trip album, and the hands-down best travel song is "Refuge of the Roads" by Joni Mitchell. "America" by Simon and Garfunkel is a very close second.

In a highway service station
Over the month of June
Was a photograph of the earth
Taken coming back from the moon
And you couldn't see a city
On that marbled bowling ball
Or a forest or a highway
Or me here least of all
You couldn't see these cold water restrooms
Or this baggage overload
Westbound and rolling taking refuge in the roads

Other good songs...

"Move On," David Bowie
"Half Past France," John Cale
"Goin' Mobile," The Who

(How very frustrating: I know of at least four separate road trip mixes I've made, but this is all I can remember.)
posted by Vervain at 12:02 PM on May 18, 2006

Life is a Highway by Tom Cochrane
posted by clh at 12:06 PM on May 18, 2006

Six Days on the Road – Dave Duddley
Maybelline – Chuck Berry
You Can't Catch Me – Chuck Berry
The Promised Land – Chuck Berry
No Particular Place to Go – Chuck Berry
I'm a Lonesome Fugitive – Merle Haggard
Lake Charles – Lucinda Williams
Casey Jones – Grateful Dead
Truckin' – Grateful Dead
Mystery Train – Junior Parker, Elvis Presley
This Wheel's on Fire – The Band
Willin' – Little Feat
Ramblin' Man – Allman Brothers
City of New Orleans – Steve Goodman
Banana Republics – Steve Goodman
Orange Blossom Special – everybody
posted by timeistight at 12:11 PM on May 18, 2006

Some of these are a bit of a stretch, but...

Water From the Houses of Our Fathers by Pete Morton

Me and Paul by Willie Nelson

Ramblin' Man by Hank Williams

Big River by Johnny Cash

Baloney Again by Mark Knopfler

Drivin' on 9 by The Breeders

Great Historical Bum by Odetta

Hobo's Meditation by Jimmie Rodgers

Waiting for a Train by Jimmie Rodgers

Right On My Way Home by Bob Dorough

Hard Travelin' by Woody Guthrie

They Might Be Giants Got Lost by They Might Be Giants

Yellow Coat by Steve Goodman
posted by j-dawg at 12:13 PM on May 18, 2006

America- I like the Yes version
City of New Orleans- Arlo Guthrie
Please come to Boston- Dave loggins
RoadRunner- Modern Lovers
Sweet Baby james- James Taylor
I'll follow the sun- Tha Beatles
Back to the Family- Jethro Tull (older)
(A night in) Budapest- Jethro Tull (newer)
posted by Gungho at 12:18 PM on May 18, 2006

Tom Waits's stuff is a gold mine for this kind of thing. "Train Song" and "Hang On St. Christopher" from Frank's Wild Years stand out for me.
posted by ldenneau at 12:29 PM on May 18, 2006

"The Way" by Fastball - one of my favorite '90's pop songs.

"Passing Through" - more metaphysical and apparently a folk song, versions by various musicians from Pete Seeger to Leonard Cohen to Kind of Like Spitting.

There are a TON of other folk songs with traveling/vagabonding/rambling themes - just find a list of songs by Pete Seeger or Woody Guthrie, since they recorded a lot of the classics, and pick through them for promising titles.
posted by bubukaba at 12:57 PM on May 18, 2006

bright eyes - another travelin song
posted by rooftop secrets at 1:04 PM on May 18, 2006

bob dylan - like a rolling stone

and many other dylan songs....
posted by rooftop secrets at 1:05 PM on May 18, 2006

Yeah, Mountain Goats.

you roared into the driveway of our southwestern ranch-style house
on a new kawasaki, all yellow and black
fresh out of the showroom.
our house faced west,
so the big orange sun positioned at your back,
lit up your magnificent silhouette.
how much better?
how much better can my life get?
900 cubic centimeters of raw whining power.
no outstanding warrants for my arrest.
whoa-whoa. whoa whoa.
the pirate's life for me.

i hopped on back of the bike, wrapped my arms around you.
and i sank my face into your hair.
and then i inhaled as deeply as i possibly could.
you were as sweet and delicious as the warm desert air.
and you pointed your headlamp toward the horizon,
we were the one thing in the galaxy god didn't have his eyes on.
900 cc's of raw whining power,
no outstanding warrants for my arrest.
hi diddle dee dee.
god damn!
the pirate's life for me!

posted by jessamyn at 1:07 PM on May 18, 2006

I can't believe no one has mentioned "Me and Booby McGhee" -- Janis Joplin/Kris Kristofferson

Come a Long Way - Michelle Shocked

Song to Woody - Bob Dylan

I'm out here a thousand miles from my home,
Walkin' a road other men have gone down.
I'm seein' your world of people and things,
Your paupers and peasants and princes and kings.

Hey, hey Woody Guthrie, I wrote you a song
'Bout a funny ol' world that's a-comin' along.
Seems sick an' it's hungry, it's tired an' it's torn,
It looks like it's a-dyin' an' it's hardly been born.

Hey, Woody Guthrie, but I know that you know
All the things that I'm a-sayin' an' a-many times more.
I'm a-singin' you the song, but I can't sing enough,
'Cause there's not many men that done the things that you've done.

Here's to Cisco an' Sonny an' Leadbelly too,
An' to all the good people that traveled with you.
Here's to the hearts and the hands of the men
That come with the dust and are gone with the wind.

I'm a-leaving' tomorrow, but I could leave today,
Somewhere down the road someday.
The very last thing that I'd want to do
Is to say I've been hittin' some hard travelin' too.
posted by Rumple at 1:28 PM on May 18, 2006

Nothing against Roger Miller but surely "The Happy Wanderer" is the granddaddy of them all...

Folderee, folderaa...

posted by AmbroseChapel at 1:31 PM on May 18, 2006

One More Town, by the Kingston Trio
posted by eritain at 1:46 PM on May 18, 2006

The Lucky One, by Alison Krauss & Union Station (addressed to the wanderer, rather than from his perspective)

Don't Think Twice, It's All Right, by Dylan and others
posted by eritain at 1:49 PM on May 18, 2006

Airline to Heaven- Billy Bragg and Wilco

Albuquerque- Weird Al (if you like that sort of music)

Also, Dylan, Springsteen, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly etc.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 2:51 PM on May 18, 2006

Shenandoah, traditional ('away, I'm bound away, 'cross the wide Missouri')

The Rocky Road to Dublin, traditional

Big Rock Candy Mountain, traditional hobo fantasy

For Loving Me, by Peter, Paul, and Mary. There are some other near misses in their catalog—500 Miles, Early Morning Rain, Leaving on a Jet Plane—none so much a celebration of the road, but mostly laments at parting or at being stuck nowhere.

Сядеш у поїзд (You'll take a train) by Pikkardijska Tertsia is right up your alley, but the lyrics are in Ukrainian. And the translation on their website isn't the best, so here's my go at it:
The wind ruffles our hair and swirls leaves in our faces;
When autumn rules the world, I cannot sit at home.
I'll soon be trusting in the trains; let them take me where they will,
And let there gather on the platform, in a chorus, those who aren't seeing me on my way.

You take a train, let it run its way,
Maybe to Prague, maybe to Vienna.
The wet trees run along your tracks,
And you leave behind you all your joys and sorrows.

I'll leave my watch at home, I'll flee from business and the weather;
I'll forget everything, abandon everything, and not think it a pity.
So my wallet is light and my road unknown—
I'll be a free traveler. The main thing is to get away from home.

(chorus 3x)
Okay, now I promise I'm done.
posted by eritain at 2:53 PM on May 18, 2006

The World at Large - Modest Mouse
truckers atlas -- modest mouse

The first two Modest Mouse albums -- 'This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About' and 'The Lonesome Crowded West' -- are virtually all about travelling, in various contexts.
posted by macdara at 3:00 PM on May 18, 2006

Going to California - Led Zeppelin

I wrote a song called The Road, but I unfortunately I don't have a good recording to give you. I'm going to make one soon, though. Here are some of the lyrics:

You and me in the Cadillac
a stack of old, yellow paperbacks
two hearts that melt just like candlewax
who could ask for more?

So meet me please, by the waterfront
I'll wait near our tree, I know you know the one
Soon we can be any way we want
with no one keeping score

So don't tell you're family where we're going
Cause they won't do a thing but slow us down
and all I know is the road and I love you

posted by ludwig_van at 3:26 PM on May 18, 2006

Your family!
posted by ludwig_van at 3:33 PM on May 18, 2006

Perhaps more about empowerment than peripateticism, but I believe Miss Nancy Sinatra has a pair in your size.
posted by rob511 at 5:59 PM on May 18, 2006

Salt Pork, West Virginia-Louis Jordan
Big Road-The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Vultures of Bombay-Snakefinger
Barstow-Harry Partch (well, it's about hobos anyway)
Come On Feet-Melvin Van Peebles, or the Quasimoto cover (okay that's more a song about being chased, but it's still a sort of traveling)
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:40 PM on May 18, 2006

"Road back home again" by Cornershop. Great traveling song.
posted by msali at 7:53 PM on May 18, 2006

Freedom Rider- Traffic (from John Barleycorn Must Die)

Road Trippin'- The Red Hot Chili Peppers (from Californication)

Long Lonesome Highway Blues Steve Earle with the Del McCoury Band (from The Mountain)

Pilgrim, from The Mountain as well...I'd listen to the whole damn thing, actually.

Sally Maclenane, The Pogues, (from Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash)

Promised Land, Chuck Berry (or Elvis, I suppose)

Bright Sunny South, Allison Krauss and Union Station (from Every Time you Say Goodbye, though it's about going off to war)

Hear My Train A'Comin, Jimi Hendrix (traditional, but as recorded on the Blues disc)

and, of course

Ramblin Man, The Allman Brothers Band
posted by kosem at 9:47 PM on May 18, 2006

Oh man, speaking of Harry Partch - check out U.S. Highball - one of my all-time favorite pieces!
posted by bubukaba at 10:48 PM on May 18, 2006

Oh yeah, and

Life is a Highway
posted by whatzit at 6:15 AM on May 19, 2006

Kosem, there's no Bright Sunny South on my copy of Every Time We Say Goodbye ... there's Heartstrings, but that's more about going home than about hitting the road. Sure you've got the right album?
posted by eritain at 4:02 PM on May 19, 2006

You know, eritrain, you're right.

I assumed that's where it's from when I thought of it last night, but the recording of it I have is from this live CD.

Bright Sunny South is from New Favorite. Anyway, Dan Tyminski sings it. He's the voice of the Man of Constant Sorrow, as lipsynched by George Clooney in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?--one of the very best singers in bluegrass music today. (But he's not the actual man of constant sorrow. That's Ralph Stanley)
posted by kosem at 5:06 PM on May 19, 2006

Guess I'm a latecomer, but this topic is near and dear. And I don't see my favorite road trip tune: Everybody's Talkin' by Harry Nilsson.

I'm goin' where the sun keeps shining through the pouring rain,
Goin' where the weather suits my clothes...

You might remember it from Midnight Cowboy.
posted by harrisb01 at 1:41 AM on May 22, 2006

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