I love road trips. Have done so ever since I was a young lad. And when it comes to my road trips, I’m a firm believer in tradition. Some of the things seem trivial, perhaps, like the trip kickoff bottle of chocolate milk, or the bag of beef jerky, or the destination, but the most important thing is the audio entertainment. I love making mixes, and what better excuse for a mix than a road trip?
Highways are boring, especially the interstates. Any road trip deserves care in designing a proper mix, from the day trip out of town to the coast-to-coast long haul.
As to the proper technique… there’s no real specific set way to do it. What I offer here are basically guidelines to make it something fantastic. Just don’t make absolutely every song in your playlist have to do with the road or travel. It’s a fun theme, sure, but when you’ve got fifteen different covers of Route 66, dude, you ain’t right. A few songs like that in the mix are good, though. Make it interesting for yourself, and your passengers if you have them.
As I’ve said, I’m a firm believer in tradition. Every road trip I’ve taken since I began heading out on my own has without fail started with (ok, yeah, a couple of road songs. I never said to omit them entirely.) Bob Seger’s Turn The Page followed by Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again. I’m not entirely why I started including them as the first two tracks, but hey, why mess with what works? I shudder to think what would happen if I omitted them.
After I get those out of the way… well, I have to admit that my road mixes are pretty heavy with Seventies-era rock. It just works. Tom Petty has ALWAYS made for good driving music. From American Girl to Runnin’ Down A Dream to (ok, fine, more road music) anything off of Highway Companion, there’s something right about his mellow style and being on the road. Rush is another fantastic choice. Limelight, Free Will, Red Barchetta (yes, another one), I have many fond memories of driving down the road, late at night, letting this music keep me awake. Whatever you do, randomize the playlist. I fit so much music into the list that I forget what’s all on there, and when it’s random, it’s always exciting looking forward to that one song that is in there somewhere but you’ve got no idea when it’ll play.
I also like to include some songs that make me think, reflect, introspect, reminisce. There’s nothing like driving down the highway, lost on the road and lost in though. Just keep your damn eyes on the road.
If you have a specific destination, it can be fun to find music that would fit the theme of what you’re doing. I’ve made the trek to various music festivals, and have had a blast finding tracks from some of the performers and adding them to the mix as well. Discovered some GREAT music that way.
Don’t take these words as law. If you have a song that you absolutely love, and it would kill you to not have it in the mix, by all means put it in there. Get input from passengers if you’ve got them. Have fun making the mixes, and hold on to them when the trip is over. Bring it back out later, and give it a listen. It’ll bring back memories.
Drive safe, mix well, buy the ticket, take the ride.