Everyone has a collection of their favourite road songs. After all, where would we be without the road? Off-road, of course!
But we’re all road riders here and there is nothing better than wiping the road grime and dust off your cheeks at the end of a solid day’s riding on the road to nowhere.
This time we’re giving you the top 10 songs that capture the spirit of the open road. We’ve tried to avoid obvious road songs about cars, such as Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road and Golden Earring’s Radar Love.
Instead, these are general road songs that try to throw a lasso around the wanderlust in us all. These are songs that explain the endless Jack Kerouac attraction of getting back on the road again and just going.
As they say, the journey is more important than the destination and most of these songs reflect that theme.
You’ll notice a distinct lack of modern contributions and only one Brit song because today’s musos just don’t get the road and the British don’t have the same affinity with vast distances like the Yanks and the Aussies.
This is not a definitive list and it purposely precludes any of the songs I’ve used in my other lists.
So here goes … feel free to disagree and contribute your favourites.
1 The Weight – The Band: If ever there was a song about wanderlust, this is it. Being the opening song on the Easy Rider soundtrack also gives it huge cred. Haven’t we all just pulled into some town “feelin’ about half past dead”?
2 Running on Empty – Jackson Browne: Even the opening line is sheer poetry and reflects our views as we ride along: “Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels …” We’re all running on empty, running blind, running into the sun.
3 Going Up The Country – Canned Heat: This unofficial Woodstock anthem nails the joyful sentiment of just pulling up stumps, hitting the road, “going where I’ve never been before” and seeing what happens.
4 Take it Easy – The Eagles: Simply put, it’s all about lovin’ and leavin’ and making sure the sound of your own wheels don’t make you crazy.
5 I’ll be Gone – Spectrum: Another song about lovin’ ‘em and leavin’ ‘em, but this time from an Australian band and with the perfect motto: “Movin’ around comes naturally, Movin’ around and feelin’ free. That’s for me.”
6 Turn the Page – John English, Metallica, Bob Seger: All versions are great and even though it’s about a rock muso travelling the country, some of the lines ring true for riders such as “You can listen to the engine moanin’ out its one-note song” and “well you walk into a restaurant all strung out from the road and you can feel the eyes upon you as you’re shakin’ off the cold”.
7 On the Road Again – Willie Nelson: Again, it’s about a travelling muso, but riders can empathise with the positivity of the lyrics “On the road again. Goin’ places that I’ve never been. Seein’ things that I may never see again. And I can’t wait to get on the road again.”
8 Highway to Hell – AC/DC: I rejected this as too obvious for the motorcycle songs, but I still love the lines “No stop signs, speed limit, nobody’s gonna slow me down.” Plus they’re Aussies!
9 Road Angel – The Doobie Brothers: These guys ride and they get it. This little-known song includes a great gear-shift chord progression as well as the obvious lyrical references “I was ridin’ down that highway, silver Harley by my side.”
10 Long Way Round – Stereophonics: The music from the Boorman/McGregor series doesn’t do this any favours, but it has a lazy pace like a meandering ride and I love the ethos of “Got sun in my face, sleeping rough on the road. I’ll tell you all about it, when I get home.” British rock music usually doesn’t get the road like the Yanks, but these guys are an exception.