Don’t get us wrong – we love city life, especially here in Abu Dhabi. But sometimes daytripping to a friend’s house in Khalifa City doesn’t quite satiate the need for a proper escape. Time to hit the highway for that classic tradition: the road trip.
Of course, you can’t drive in complete silence – well, you can, but the very thought is giving us a flat tyre – so we’ve compiled our list of the best road trip songs to get your motors running and kick your highway journey into the highest of gears.
Crank up classics from the Boss, U2 and The Eagles. So grab your keys, call up a few of your favourite travel buddies, roll down the windows and crank up the volume. It's road trip time.
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
Like Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A., Born to Run is darker than it may seem. Embedded in the scuffed poetry of the lyrics is a potent combination of disgust and determination – brought to life by the throaty passion of Springsteen’s voice, the liberating wail of Clarence Clemons’s sax and the sheer propulsive force of the E Street Band’s backup. “Someday girl, I don't know when/We’re gonna get to that place where we really wanna go,” Springsteen promises. Born to Run, for all its spikes, takes you there. It’s a love song, an urban-jungle cry and a perfect anthem of pedal-to-the-metal escape.
Where the Streets Have No Name by U2
This anthemic opening track from U2’s landmark 1987 LP The Joshua Tree is an ideal kick-starter for any road trip. From a whisper, the sound of an organ builds up. It’s well over a minute before the Edge’s churning guitar and Adam Clayton’s propulsive bassline kick in, and another 40 seconds before Bono’s vocals touch down. By then, you’re ready to hit top gear and wail along: “I want to run/I want to hide/I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside.” Though the song is about Bono’s vision of an Ireland free from class boundaries, it has inspired countless highway warriors to venture out to those places where the streets truly have no name.
Take it Easy by The Eagles
The Eagles took flight in 1972 with their debut single: a quick but mellow paean to the romance of the road. Co-written by frontman Glenn Frey and his friend Jackson Browne, the song’s fringing with worry and release into adventure is perfect for relieving tension on a drive. As the lyrics gently urge: “Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.”
I’ve Been Everywhere by Johnny Cash
Music has always had the power to educate. Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” taught us more 20th-century American history than a year’s worth of eighth-grade social-science classes. And when it comes to geography, there is no better musical resource than this name-dropping country ditty, first released with North American locales in 1962 by Canadian crooner Hank Snow. In four verses, 91 places are rattled off in rapid-fire succession—destinations both big (Chicago and Nashville) and small (Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and Haverstraw, New York). The song has been covered many times and adapted for different regions of the globe, but we’re partial to the Man in Black’s 1996 rendition, simply because his weathered, gravelly bass-baritone suggests a man who has indeed been everywhere
Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra
The sweet spot is 176 beats per minute. That’s a giddy run, the pace of your footsteps hitting the pavement as you jog home after a first date. Though we haven’t tested this, we theorise it is the precise cadence of fence posts whipping past your window as you motor down a highway just above the speed limit. Mr. Blue Sky is 176 beats per minute, which is why, whenever it plays, you have the urge to run like a big dumb puppy dog to a boyfriend/girlfriend, or let the wind blow through your hair at 76mph, as you croon along to the vocoder like a robot. Warning: When Mr. Blue Sky is used without such outlets, it can cause deep wanderlust.
I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers
If there’s one song that can unite everyone in the car in the simple act of thumping whatever surface is near them in time with this ludicrously catchy tune, it’s this one—a hit in 1988 for Scottish twins The Proclaimers. Fun fact: The “havering” referred to in the first verse (“And if I haver, I know I’m gonna be the man who’s havering to you”) is Scots slang for babbling foolishly. So now you know.
Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey
A thousand terrible karaoke performances have somewhat dulled the luster of this once-gleaming ’80s classic, but once it comes on in the car, you’ll be in love with it all over again within seconds.
Scar Tissue by Red Hot Chili Peppers
The LA-bred Peppers clearly know a thing or two about hitting the highways, as evidenced by a song catalogue riddled with Cali-inspired, crank-up-the-dial tunes. For a journey out on the open road, we like this lead track off the band’s 1999 album, Californication, due to its lilting desert-by-twilight vibe.