FT5: Road Trip Albums

Well students, it’s nearly finals time for a lot of you and before the prospect of (dare I say it) summer school, many of you have two or so glorious weeks of freedom. It’s time to hit the old dusty trail and have some adventures farting on each other, spilling beer in your friend’s car and of overheating engines in the middle of nowhere. The wildly adventurous times of our youth elude many of us today, but the memories remain; stuck together like the pack of gummi-bears that fell into the dash air vent. Yes, the good old fashioned road trip is about as American as it gets. Piling in a car, carrying more people than available seatbelts and heading towards the border or greener pastures (wherever they might be). Two questions become instantly prevalent: 1.) What should we listen to? and 2.) Where to? (Although the second is MUCH less important) After all, music and the open road are as inseparable as college and binge drinking. Fear not my young compadres, throw the calculus and audio books out the window and crank up the tunes. Here is the FT5 of Road Trip Albums to get you down along the road and back again.


5. Bill Hicks – Rant in E Minor

Let’s face it; before getting to college and the first taste of freedom, the family road trip is often an obligatory voyage. On these long trips across the country, the one thing that saved me most from going completely stir-crazy was comedy. In my most impressionable time of youth I was turned onto Mr. Hicks and no comedian has made me think critically more. Now, Hicks may not be everyone’s cup o’ tea, but for road trips in general, comedy is a great outlet. Grab some Orange Drink, strap on the headphones and act like you’re sleeping because it’s going to be a long ride. Ah memories…


4. The Doors – L.A.Woman

This album was one of the first I thought of when beginning to write today’s Top 5. While looking through some other lists online covering the same topic, I came across it a few times. Well, it’s on several of these lists for good reason. When it comes to American epic rock albums, this Door’s album specifically meets the criteria. It’s a frothy, wild and jubilant trip. Just beware of the tendency to ease more and more on the pedal as Morrison belts out “Love Her Madly”. One of my speeding tickets outside of Waco I can attribute to this song in particular.


3. Kings of Leon – Youth & Young Manhood

The title to this record just screams road-trip and when it comes to “punch you in the throat” tunes, this debut does it no better. This album is particularly a good one for driving at night, because if Caleb’s vocals can’t keep you awake on “Red Morning Light”, “Joe’s Head”, or “Molly’s Chambers”, it’s probably best to pull over and catch a few hours sleep at the next rest stop. Whatever you do, if you feel like you’re going drift off, tell someone. Don’t veer into incoming traffic. You know who you are, bastard.


2. Waylon Jennings – Honky Tonk Heroes

I would be remiss if I were to leave Waylon off this list. Traveling back and forth between my parents place and college hours away, this album was the soundtrack to that period in my life. It’s rugged, rolling and free-spirited and is in my mind the best Waylon had to offer. It’s been a few years since I’ve listened to this album and just thinking about it makes me want to get back on the road. The memories of jamming this record on repeat on those long trips will never leave me and I don’t think there is a more perfect companion to the vast Texas countryside. Rolling down the windows with a beautiful young companion on your arm and it gets no better.


1. The Grateful Dead – American Beauty

Any great road trip album must have 2 things if nothing else: A solid opener and an even greater closer. When traveling down the open road, the last thing you want to do is constantly change the music. Well, Garcia, Lesh and Friends make it so you don’t have to. However, “Box of Rain” and “Truckin’” are only a few of the classic tracks on one of the best American rock albums ever made. “Friend of the Devil”, “Sugar Magnolia”, the list could go on, but I’d end up listing the entire record. On a trip to New Mexico, my friends and I must have listened to this record straight through 5 times at least. Not as a dare, but we just couldn’t bear to touch it. Sometimes the soundtrack to get somewhere and the company you’re with is better than finally getting there.


Honorable Mention: Motley Crue – Dr. Feelgood

Well, now that the itch has returned, I think it’s time to gather up the girl and the pooch and hit the road again. What are your favorites? And feel free to add any good stories too. Happy Travels.


  • I’m just going to say that Badlydrawnboy’s Hour of the Bewilderbeast is a ridiculously solid album to just put on and hit the road; it’s all over and in the most beautiful way.

  • Great Topic! So many to choose from.

    Other very acceptable Honorable Mentions…

    CAKE, Fashion Nugget (Perfect Track Titles on top of it all for a road trip).

    Foo Fighters, The Colour And The Shape (Solid all the way through).

    Mike Ness, Under The Influences (Similar to Kings of Leon ‘punch you in the throat’ covers to rock out with and keep you thinkin’ hard about your journey).

  • I’d have “Is This It?” on there for sure. . perfect thing to keep you going on long stretches.

    Also, for some reason “Odelay” is a great road trip album.

  • Wilco’s “Being There”. I have to say Gomez’s “Liquid Skin” just because I had it on while driving to Durango Colorado, and seemed perfect. Oddly enough, I don’t listen the record anymore? And of course Neil Young and Crazy Horse “Weld”

  • I listened to nothing but the Decemberists on my drive to Portland a few years ago. Seemed fitting since they are from that area and their music was perfect for the north west.

    Neil Young is of course always good.

  • I still think Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers greatest hits is the best drivin’ record of all time…even though its a compilation.

    I swear I’ve put this CD in, rolled down the windows, and ended up 1000 miles away without even thinking twice about it.

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