Eagles – “Take It Easy” (1972)
For many, “I’m running down the road tryin’ to loosen my load, I’ve got seven women on my mind,” were the first words they ever heard from the Eagles. The song continues on exploring the joys of cruising around being admired by members of the opposite gender. “Take It Easy” peaked at #12 on the US pop chart in 1972 and put the Eagles on the map.
Beach Boys – “Little Deuce Coupe” (1963)
Cars were a key element of a number of the Beach Boys’ early classics. “Little Deuce Coupe” is possibly the best. If there was ever a love song written to a car, this is it. Just substitute what you’ve got for the words “little deuce coupe,” and your auto will be purring in loving response. As a B-side to the hit “Surfer Girl,” “Little Deuce Coupe” hit #15 on the pop chart and proved the Beach Boys could sing about more than just surfing and girls.
Billy Ocean – “Get Outta My Dreams Get Into My Car” (1988)
It may be crass and commercial, but it’s also great car music. Billy Ocean launched a song that has the perfect beat for slow top-down convertible cruising along the city strip. You’ll be singing along in no time. “Get Outta My Dreams Get Into My Car” became Billy Ocean’s third #1 pop hit of the 1980s making him one of the biggest pop stars of the decade.
Wall of Voodoo – “Mexican Radio” (1982)
It’s a bit of a left-field selection, but this classic is addictive from the first time you hear it. It’s all about dialing in a Mexican station from dusty border territory. The next time you’re headed along dusty highways from Texas to California, make sure this classic is on your playlist. The song was intended as a musical fusion of new wave with spaghetti western movie soundtracks.
John Mellencamp – “Authority Song” (1984)
You might find yourself pounding the steering wheel along as the crack of the drums and guitar kick in. Irresistible melody, defiant singalong lyrics, and a big dose of attitude…in other words, great for driving! “Authority Song” peaked at #15 on the US pop chart and was the third hit from the album Uh-Huh following the top 10 smashes “Crumblin’ Down” and “Pink Houses.”
Derek and the Dominos – “Layla” (1972)
“Layla” by Eric Clapton’s alter ego band, Derek and the Dominos, is one of the top rock classics of all time. The extended instrumental fade out is a warm antidote for a long, lonely drive. Duane Allman’s slide guitar solo will expose and soothe any brand of emotional disturbance. Lock it in for any lengthy solo drive. “Layla” became a top 10 pop hit in 1972.
Stealers Wheel – “Stuck In the Middle With You” (1973)
This parody of Bob Dylan’s style by Scots Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan locks into an outstanding rhythm for gentle 4-wheel cruising. The song was produced by classic pop songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Who can help but join in with the instantly memorable chorus “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am…stuck in the middle with you?” The song was a #6 charting pop hit in 1973 and paved the way for group member Gerry Rafferty’s solo career capped by the #2 hit “Baker Street.”
Golden Earring – “Radar Love” (1974)
Golden Earring – “Radar Love”. Courtesy Polydor
With that chugging beat and lyrics that begin “I’ve been driving all night, my hands wet on the wheel,” “Radar Love” is the perfect song for cross-country night driving with no objective other than being with the one you love ASAP. Surprisingly, this universally well-known classic did not even make the pop top 10 upon its initial release. The song peaked at #13 on the US pop chart, but its reputation has grown tremendously through the years.
The Cars – “Let’s Go” (1979)
“Let’s Go,” from the Cars second album Candy-O includes one of the most brilliant pauses in the history of pop music. Those few seconds between “She says” and “Let’s go” make the entire song work. As one would expect from their name, the Cars made several great driving songs, but “Let’s Go” is the best. The song peaked at #14 on the pop singles chart and was the group’s biggest hit until “Shake It Up” reached the top 5 two years later.
The Beatles – “Drive My Car” (1966)
“Drive My Car” kicks off the Beatles’ Rubber Soul, one of the greatest pop albums of all time. It’s easy to enjoy on a drive and sing along to the chorus, but when listened to closely, the lyrics are among the Beatles’ most witty. According to Paul McCartney, “drive my car” is an old blues euphemism for sex.