Life is a Highway–Top 20 Records for the Open Road

539129962Leaving the late winter snow behind, I am heading to Durham, NC later this week for a return trip to the Duke Diet & Fitness Center. Got my iPod ready with great driving tunes all loaded up. I wrote about this a few years ago and got plenty of feedback. These are great songs, whether you are driving or not, but when I am driving on the open road and singing at the top of my lungs, listening to these tunes makes the drive a whole lot easier.

So below is the reprise of 20 Songs Guaranteed to Get You a Speeding Ticket. (PS Life is a Highway is a great song too. It is one of many that’s bubbling under the top 20)

Here’s the Struming from 2014:

I love driving. On the first day I had my driver’s license as a 17-year old, I drove into New York City. I was fearless; but thankfully I was not a crazy driver. I just loved the sensation of driving. Traffic was a hassle then (even more so now) but driving on an open road was a real thrill.

I recently drove solo to Durham, NC to visit the Duke & Diet Center, a subject of a recent Struming, American Obesity: A Heavyweight Problem. The drive was roughly 400 miles from Southern NJ. Piece o’ cake. I’ve done it many times. If you can avoid DC traffic, it’s a 6-7 hour trip. Once you’ve driven around the country as our family did in the summer of 1999, a 400 mile drive seems like nothing.

One of the things I love on my drive is listening to my iPod, in particular listening to the hard driving songs for the open road. These songs are guaranteed to get your head and body moving. Moreover, independent research has shown conclusively that there’s a physiological response to listening these songs causing one to depress one’s right foot on the gas pedal while driving (OK, I made that up, but I believe it). These are great driving songs; in fact the top 20 driving songs of all time, at least I say so. Not only are they great to listen to, but they’re great to sing along to screaming the key lyrics while other drivers look at you strangely. (Admit it, you do this sometimes too)

Though this list has some modest overlap (2 songs) with the Strumings Top 20 records of all time, this is a unique list. I dare you to create a mix of these songs and listen to them on your next long distance drive. However I take no responsibility for the speeding ticket you’ll receive.

So here are the official top 20 driving songs of all time, in reverse order:

20. Super Freak—Rick James
Tell me you don’t want to shake your booty every time you hear this, and its ripped-off twin, U Can’t Touch This.

19. Gimme Some Lovin’-Spencer Davis Group
I have no idea who Spencer Davis was, but I surely can hear the distinctive voice of a young Steve Winwood on this song singing , “So glad you made it”. You made it, Stevie. I’m a Man was also a great song for this short lived English 60s group.

18. Play That Funky Music—Wild Cherry
A one hit wonder, these white kids from Ohio had this funkadelic thunderbolt in the 70s. Makes me want to lay down and boogie and play that funky music ‘til I die.

17. I’m Too Sexy—Right Said Fred
This tune is also on the top 20 records of all time. I love it. Yes, I took a ton of grief for its inclusion on that list. This is only song that I know that uses the term catwalk memorably in the lyrics. Love that double clap thing too.

16. All She Wants To Do Is Dance—Don Henley
This is a great Don Henley song from the very first note. Dirty Laundry is a great driving song too.

15. China Grove—Doobie Brothers
A classic from the Tom Johnston Doobies era, the guitar intro of this song is brilliant. Long Train Running is also a great driving tune.

14. Badlands-Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band.
This is one where I incorrectly sing the lyrics after shouting the word Badlands.

13. One Thing Leads to Another-The Fixx
The Fixx was an under-rated group, and this tune this may be one of the best ever “top of the hour” songs. As a weekend DJ at an album rock station in the 80s I looked for songs that had a strong beginning which I could play at the top of the hour while reciting the call letters—in that case “105.5 is…WDHA-FM Dover, the Rock of New Jersey”

12. Wang Chung—Everybody Have Fun Tonight
This was one of the two cross-overs from the top 20 songs of all time. As a marketing guy I admire how this group integrated their name into the song. Brilliant “nameonics”. (“Everybody have Fun Tonight, Everybody Wang Chung tonight”).

11. Simply Irresistible-Robert Palmer
I loved the video of this too. Pepsi used it in a commerical back in the 80s too. “She’s So Fine, There’s no telling where the money went”–great lyrics. The late Robert Palmer was very cool.

10. Bertha-Grateful Dead
The Dead is favorite band, I love listening to virtually all Dead music. But Bertha makes me “Move, really had to move”

9. Higher & Higher—Moody Blues
“Blasting, billowing, bursting forth with the power of ten billion butterfly sneezes. Man with his flaming pyre has conquered the wayward breezes” Need I say more? OK, I inhaled in the 70s. But not while driving.

8. Somebody To Love—Jefferson Airplane
What a great band! I wish they made more music and didn’t break apart so quickly. Great song. Volunteers was a classic driving song too.

7. Whole Lotta Love–Led Zeppelin
This was cut one on Led Zeppelin II. I almost never got to cut two.

6. Mony, Mony—Tommy James & the Shondells
This was also covered by Billy Idol and many others. Great song. Yes, I sing the “enhanced lyrics” in the car while driving (don’t ask if you don’t know).

5. Enter Sandman-Metallica
This obviously has a special place in my heart as I remember the career of Mariano Rivera running in from the bullpen to this tune. I have my Mariano bobblehead as a reminder. It was wonderful watching 50,000 Hispanics, Hassids, Blacks, Asians and New Yorkers of all races sing the words “Exit Light, Enter Night” as Mo entered.

4. Would I Lie To You—Eurythmics
I want to hear the first 30 seconds over and over and over again. What a beginning!

3. Whip It-Devo
I loved the flower pot hats too. Great song and lyrics to die for “Step on a crack. Break your mama’s back”

2. Life During Wartime—Talking Heads
The Heads are my 2nd favorite band after the Grateful Dead. You may not recognize the title of this tune, but you can’t forget the key lyric “This Ain’t No Party. This Ain’t No Disco. This Ain’t No Foolin’ Around”

steppenwolf-born-to-be-wild-1968-51. Born to Be Wild—Steppenwolf
This 1968 Steppenwolf classic is the ultimate driving song, from note one to the first lyrics…”Get Your Motor Runnin’. Head Out On The Highway”. This song was used in countless movies (including the classic Easy Rider) and commercials as well. Magic Carpet Ride wasn’t chopped liver either.

So that’s it. The top 20 driving tunes of all time. Guaranteed to get you a speeding ticket on the open road. But please, make no reference to pork products when you get pulled over.

What songs did I miss?

More Strumings


  1. Love it Lonnie! Got several of my faves listed.

    You need more than 20:

    Jumpin’ Jack Flash
    One Way Out
    I Got A Line on You
    Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man
    Twist and Shout
    Good Lovin’
    Johnny Be Good
    Good Golly Miss Molly

    I could go on, but I gotta get back to coaching!

  2. Lynn Hoban says:

    I am filing a protest due to a grievous omission. There was no Tom Petty. Please add You Wreck Me.

  3. richard hammond says:

    No Radar Love? Golden earring

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