33 Perfect Songs For Your Road Trip, According to Musicians

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The dark skies are parting, the sun is shining brighter, and we're officially singing a different tune. Yes, the forthcoming warm weather means that music festival season and the subsequent summer tours are upon us once again. In fact, we're only two seconds away from plotting our own road adventures — but not without some professional playlist consulting first, from those who know best about music and long travels.

So, to get us started on curating the ultimate mixtape, we turned to 33 buzz-worthy bands and emerging music acts to share that one song (or two) playing on repeat that comforts them while they're covering miles on the open road. From the get-down-pump-up party tracks, to the nostalgic throwbacks you forgot about, to some of the best tunes you didn't even know existed, give a listen to the songs you need to add to your road trip playlist immediately. And, while you're at it, be sure to catch these guys perform on tour while you're cruising into the warmer months ahead.
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Photo: Courtesy of Pooneh Ghana.
Twin Peaks

"The Weight" by The Band
"I pulled into Nazareth, I was feelin' about half past dead.
That's basically how it feels pulling into every city, town, or village on one of our tours." — Cadien Lake James
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Photo: Courtesy of Ryan Patterson.
Natalie Prass

"Would I Lie To You?" by Charles & Eddie
"This song works really well in the car when it's either really early in the morning or late at night after the gig and getting a head start to the next city. It's a good bookend. It's perfectly upbeat and has amazing background vocals." — Natalie Prass
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Photo: Courtesy of Bob Gruen.
Speedy Ortiz

"Dirty Money" by Clipse
"Clipse has served as Speedy Ortiz's first choice in cruising music for many tours, specifically Hell Hath No Fury. Too many hits on this record — 'Mr. Me Too,' 'Trill,' 'Keys Open Doors' — but 'Dirty Money' is my personal fave. 'Cuz, you know, I like shopping. I like to go chill. I'm not so much about them Louboutin heels (more them Louboutin flats, thrifted), but I'll put my ass in some La Perla. And, I'm not sure anything summarizes touring for months in a minivan as well as the desire to 'get money money' and 'take money money.'" — Sadie Dupuis
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Photo: Courtesy of Shawn Brackbill.
Weyes Blood

"All Come To Meet Her" by Alexander 'Skip' Spence
"Skip Spence IS the road. His songs perfectly encapsulate the weariness of open highways — long, dripping, moonlit journeys into nowhere. He's the king of soothing cruise music. This song especially has a beautiful triumphant quality that keeps me driving." — Natalie Mering
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Photo: Courtesy of Adarsha Benjamin.
Kevin Morby

"Don't Think Twice It's Alright" by Bob Dylan, covered by Frankie Cosmos
"This is one of my favorite songs being covered by a current favorite. A fan made me a mix and gave it to me in Philly, and this was on it and I literally cried while driving." — Kevin Morby
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Photo: Courtesy of David Kitz.

"Solid Slider" by Tatsuro Yamashita
"Jesse and I have been exploring to Japanese city pop, especially the artist Tatsuro Yamashita. 'Solid Slider' is a great road trip song because it's medium energetic. Not too sleepy, so you don't get bored and drive off the road, and not too energetic where you want to pull over and do something, anything other than keep driving!" — Zinzi Edmundson
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Photo: Courtesy of Carson Culver.
Dent May

"State Of Independence" by Donna Summer
"This one's from Donna Summer's insanely underrated 1982 self-titled album produced by Quincy Jones, reportedly as a 'warm up' to Thriller. The arpeggiated synth, the lyrics about freedom, the gospel choir... It really hits the spot when cruising into the great unknown." — Dent May
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Photo: Courtesy of Twerps.

"The 15th" by Wire
"This is a classic! Such sick guitar playing. Is it a delay doing that ner ner ner ner ner ner? I don't reckon it is...just some pretty exemplary rhythm motifs. This band has magical powers. I love the tension between the soft vocal harmonies and the sharp instrumentation — pure excellence. I dare anyone not to fuckin' bliss out to this tune during a road trip." — Julia MacFarlane
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Photo: Courtesy of Kyle Field.
Little Wings

"Public Domain" by Jerry Jeff Walker

"Years ago, my mate Bobby Birdman came back from a tour playing keyboards in Bonnie P. Billy's band and was gifted all of the cassettes that were acquired along the way. Jerry Jeff's Ridin' High became our favorite and we learned a lot of the songs, playing them later that year on our Come Along tour, which focused on campgrounds and outdoor settings. We sang 'Public Domain' around a fire by the Yuba River and I remember waking up in the middle of the night shivering after the fire went out. I had only brought a Mexican blanket." — Kyle Field
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Photo: Courtesy of Eric White.
Tei Shi

"She Looks Like You" by Sean Nicholas Savage
"This song has been on my consistent soundtrack for a few months now. It manages to be very chill and feel-good while also being really sad and moving." — Valerie Teicher
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Photo: Courtesy of Joseph Llanes/Atlantic Records.

"Pan American Highway" by Frank Black & The Catholics
"If you've been on the road for awhile, this song brings it all to light." — Hannah Hooper

"Bad Weather" by Superhumanoids
"This one is just the best when you’re driving in the rain!" — Ryan Rabin
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Photo: Courtesy of Julia Hendrickson.
Moon King

"Bittersweet Symphony" by The Verve
"Music always sounds super cinematic and slightly more epic to me in a car, especially if I'm a passenger and I can space out and stare out the window. This might sound unoriginal, but I honestly think the best song to listen to in a car is 'Bittersweet Symphony' by The Verve. We realized this on the highway the other day, when the song came on and we all got really quiet. Sure it's a massive pop hit but that song is forever!" — Maddy Wilde
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Photo: Courtesy of Maciek Pozoga.

"Sexx Laws" by Beck
"It's definitely a great song to start a Yelle road trip. It gives us a big load of energy and happiness and we all know all the details in the song, so it's really fun to air-play it." — Julie Budet
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Photo: Courtesy of Coobytron.
The New Division

"Cosas Imposibles" by Gustavo Cerati
"I love listening to this song on the road because it's really just the perfect song to start your day with. It reminds me of when I lived in Uruguay, and I love what the chorus says: Forever is today...I want to do impossible things. When you listen to it, it makes you feel invincible. It's what any good song should do." — John Glenn Kunkel
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Photo: Courtesy of Cheryl Georgette.

"Looking for the Magic" by Dwight Twilley Band
"It's the best song ever recorded."

"Real Talk" by R. Kelly
"It can assuage any tension in the van if people are getting cabin fever." — Drew Citron
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Photo: Courtesy of Ruvan.

"Make It In America" by Victoria Justice
“This song makes me excited to experience the American landscape while pursuing my dreams on the way." — Shamir Bailey
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Photo: Courtesy of Janell Shirtcliff.
Cherry Glazerr

"Ashes to Ashes" by David Bowie
"The perfect pop song." — Cherry Glazerr
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Photo: Courtesy of Ella Andersson.

"Don't Take Your Love Away" by Peter Laughner
"I listen to Friction and Peter Laughner on every tour because they are one of the few bands that can restore my faith in the power of music in its purest state. Makes me remember that there's way more you can do and give than you think at every show. Even if you are playing for five people." — Kayla Cohen
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Photo: Courtesy of Hartman Harris.
Milo Greene

"Open Road Song" by Eve 6
"Ever since I saw Can't Hardly Wait, which features 'Open Road Song' in the opening credits, the song has captured both the lure of the road and the sentiments of my adolescence simultaneously." — Graham Fink

"I can't listen to it while driving without headbanging. It takes me back to high school." — Robbie Arnett

"I don't have a specific relationship with this song, but I like to laugh at Graham when he gets really into it." — Marlana Sheetz

"The 6 4ever! Put the top down on your Miata, throw back some glass bottles of cola, wave your hands in the California breeze, cuz it's Eve 6 drivin' time!" — Andrew Heringer
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Photo: Courtesy of Terri Loewenthal.

"Cowgirl In The Sand" by Neil Young
"A great road tune is the version of 'Cowgirl In The Sand' by Neil Young from his album Live At The Fillmore East. It's about 15 minutes long, but you forget it's that long because it's enveloping and powerful and next thing you know, you're 15 minutes closer to where you need to be, energized but slightly fried. One of the best versions of the best songs ever." — Andy Cabic
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Photo: Courtesy of Adam Nagy.

"Runnin' Away" by Sly & The Family Stone
"It's a song that is very special to us. We keep it on frequent rotation over the long drives, often followed by The Raincoats' exceptional cover version." — Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs
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Photo: Courtesy of Sara Adkisson Joyner.
Simon Joyner

"White Freight Liner Blues" by Townes Van Zandt

"This is probably my favorite traveling song. The Nashville Sessions record is always the first thing I play when I leave on tour and by the time you get to 'White Freight Liner,' you know you're on the road. It's a great song about the pull of other cities and other people and the simultaneous longing for home that comes anytime you leave. Lord I'm gonna ramble until I get back to where I came. Amen." — Simon Joyner
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Photo: Courtesy of OOFJ.

"Winter Linn" by Clark
"It’s romantic and filthy. It makes you want to go have a drink after playing and dance in weird places." — OOFJ
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Photo: Courtesy of Signe.

"Backstock" by Warm Thoughts
"I've listened to this record on the road more than I could possibly tell you. My good friend Elliot Babin, when he's not drumming in Touché Amoré, puts out these amazing songs, with all the heart and depth of your favorite Weakerthans songs, but with a feeling and voice that's uniquely his own. Warm Thoughts is always a go-to for me when we're on long drives." — Luke Silas
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Photo: Courtesy of Sonny McCartney.
Ben Cook (Young Guv, Fucked Up)

"Souvenir" by OMD
"I drove back into Beirut this summer from the outskirts of town during sunset. It was a deeply profound experience. This tune will forever be my driving into a sunset song." — Ben Cook
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Photo: Courtesy of Goni Riskin.
Vaadat Charigim

"Commando" by Ramones
"I love starting a tour off with music that is sure to make me feel good about getting in the van again." — Juval Harring
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Photo: Courtesy of Tim Saccenti.

"Aikea-Guinea" by Cocteau Twins
"Euphoric spinning wheels of voice make me gush. How is it possible to make something so beautiful?" — Gabrielle Herbst
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Photo: Courtesy of Trevor Traynor.

"Untitled #4" by Gas
"This is one of my essential go-to road trip songs. So mesmerizing to watch the landscape pass by and immerse myself in the artistic, gentle layers of this work. It always, without fail, puts me into a calm and grounded place." — Brendan Angelides
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Photo: Courtesy of Cara Robbins.
Avid Dancer

"Better At Making Time" by De Lux
"My favorite road trip song is De Lux's 'Better At Making Time.' It's pretty long, like seven minutes of feel-good dance that gets me pumped up every time I hear it!" — Jacob Summers
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Photo: Courtesy of Brittany Lucas.

"County Line" by Cass McCombs
"I love this song. I could listen to it on repeat all the way down to Texas. Of course it's all about his flawless delivery, but I dream of covering this song one day. When he lilts 'hoping nothing's changed,' I get that beautiful stomach-ached longing sensation that drives you forward and lays you down in front of your dreams." — Anna Mayberry
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Photo: Courtesy of Allison Staton.
No Joy

"You Suffer" by Napalm Death
"Gorgeous and fascinating longform music piece for the endless overnight drives." — Michael Farsky
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