Our Ultimate Road-Trip Playlist

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Our writers highlight some of their favourite sing-along road-trip jams, for those long (socially distant) journeys.

‘For Emma’ – Bon Iver

Bon Iver’s entire discography makes for a perfect road-trip playlist. But, his debut For Emma, Forever Ago stands out particularly. The single ‘For Emma’ sums up all there is to love about Bon Iver, and it’s impossible to listen to at any volume that’s not extremely loud.

The song begins relatively quiet, much like many other Bon Iver songs. What stands out about ‘For Emma’, though, is that the instrumental is just as powerfully loud as the vocals. When driving, the consistent, gorgeous chords will sustain your energy completely, as Justin Vernon’s vocals permeate them beautifully.

Vernon has clarified previous that “Emma isn’t a person”, and is instead “a place that you get stuck in. Emma’s a pain that you can’t erase”. The song comes to mean so much more when you know this – interpret it how you wish, and enjoy its gorgeous timbres whilst you drive.

Georgie Holmes

‘Formation’ – Beyonce

Formation is a dangerous, thrilling song that will transport you from your car journey to Beyoncé land, otherwise known as CAR-CHELLA. I would not recommend being the driver whilst this song is on, but jumping around in the passenger’s seat as far as your seatbelt will let you is strongly advised. It’s everything you need for a long trip; its passionate, powerful and its Beyoncé. The track is a journey in itself, taking you through multiple dimensions, from the iconic intense beginning which takes you back to Beyoncé’s homecoming Coachella performance, to the party anthem that makes you believe you are performing at Coachella yourself. The first lyric “Y’all haters corny with that illuminati mess” will prepare you to enter your Beyoncé paradise, then the final lyric of the verse “I got hot sauce in my bag, swag” is your moment to SHINE at CAR-CHELLA, because you aren’t in a coach no more.

Morgan McMillan

‘Send Me on My Way’ – The Rusted Roots

Written for their 1992 album, Cruel Sun, and reappearing on their 1994 album When I Woke, Rusted Roots’ ‘Send Me on My Way’ is a song that has become nothing short of iconic with its instantly recognisable opening guitar riff and the melodic cycle of the words ‘on my way’ as its refrain. Appearing in classic films like Matilda (1996) and Ice Age(2002), the song has become associated with journeys, whether charting a young Matilda as she quickly grows older or accompanying an unlikely trio as they travel through an arctic landscape to unite a child and father. It’s a song that Hollywood has favoured in countless more films for similar moments, and this has solidified it as the perfect song to start your road-trip. Upbeat, happy, optimistic and genuinely infatuating; before long you’ll have the song tirelessly on repeat as you divide your companions between the different parts and turn your road-trip into an extravagant musical experience for the ages (coming to a theatre near you – book now!).

Sam Pegg

‘Get Back’ – The Beatles

One of my all-time favourite road-trip tunes has got to be from The Beatles, from their final album, Let it Be. After hearing time and time again how Paul experienced his epiphany of writing that damn title track, I prefer to drift towards the lesser-known songs, that still have that Liverpudlian flare (if there is such a thing). ‘Get Back’ starts with a schoolboy-ish recording of the band, giving a light playful start to the track before diving into the main body. The song originally started as a satirical and critical look at the UK’s attitudes towards immigrants, which is hard to believe from the joyful bluesy undertones which totally eliminates the boredom of staring at the same trees on the M3. Although it’s not loud and an immediate mood booster it’s a song that eases you into good vibes, gets you jamming and has you bopping along to the happy sunshine beat. 

Olivia Dellar

‘Proud Mary’ – Creedence Clearwater Revival

I’m sure when people think of songs to add to their road-trip playlist ‘Proud Mary’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival doesn’t come to mind. From personal experience it’s clear that the first songs to be chosen are songs everyone knows, and everyone can sing along to; it even becomes acceptable for those who can’t sing (myself being one of those people) to sing too, because the song is just that good. Tina Turner’s cover of ‘Proud Mary’ with its soulful tones transcending into frenzied funk rock might be a more likely candidate, but like all road-trips, the mood changes eventually. When (not if), the backseat passengers drift off to sleep and the navigator has decided the outdated sat-nav is doing just fine on its own, this song will be the driver’s saving grace. With a steady beat and chill guitar riffs, this song is the crown jewel of chill road-trip songs! Road-trips aren’t about red-hot lap times, or high-speed rallies; road-trips are about cruising along the roads and making great memories with friends and family. ‘Proud Mary’ is a song for the ultimate road-trip playlist, you just keep ‘rolling, rolling, rolling on a [road trip]’.

Kay Miller

‘Everywhere’ – Fleetwood Mac

Picture this; you’re in a convertable, driving down a country road in the middle of nowhere. The wind is in your hair, your sunglasses are on; you can go anywhere, do anything. What’s playing on the radio? Some might say ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ by John Denver, or ‘Walking on Sunshine’ by Katrina and the Whales. I say that both those suggestions, although absolutely amazing tracks, are incorrect. Fleetwood Mac is iconic, and when you could literally be travelling to wherever you want, you want ‘Everywhere’ on the radio. The soothing tones of Stevie Nicks flowing through the air as the sun sets in the sky: perfection. There’s nothing downbeat about the track, and it sets you up for a mood that lasts for the rest of the day.

Jack Nash

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