Road Trip Playlist By Leila Sales

The author of 'Tonight the Streets are Ours' shares her favorite road trip tunes.

  1. 1

    Camera Obscura, "Let's Get Out of This Country"

    "This is the perfect song about leaving behind whatever drab place you’re inhabiting (physically or psychologically) and heading out into the world unknown, as the lyrics encourage you to 'wave goodbye to our thankless jobs, drive for miles and never turn off.'"

  2. 2

    The Cure, "Mint Car"

    "One of the things I love about the Cure is that their songs go to such emotional extremes. When the Cure is sad, as they are in 'Untitled' or 'Picture of You,' nobody could be sadder. But when they are happy, as they are in 'Mint Car,' it is equally true that nobody could be happier. "

  3. 3

    The New Radicals, "You Get What You Give"

    "It would be incredibly depressing to play this song if you’re stuck in traffic, so let’s assume you’re not. Let’s assume you’re on an open country road in the middle of a sunny day, going 54 in a 45 zone (because someone once told me you can’t get a ticket if you’re within 10 miles of the speed limit—I don’t remember who said this, but for whatever reason I believed them). You don’t totally know what all the verses are but you’re definitely singing them at the top of your lungs anyway."

  4. 4

    Belle & Sebastian, "I Didn't See It Coming"

    "No matter how hairy things get out there on the road, I guarantee this song will calm you down and brighten your spirits. I have a particularly fond memory of listening to it on a father-daughter trip in a rental car in Glacier National Park, Montana, with the sunlight filtering in through the tree canopy above us."

  5. 5

    Janet Wiedlin, "Rush Hour"

    "Jane Wieldlin is best known as a member of the Go-Go's, but this single dates from later in the '80s and is definitely the most romantic and uplifting song about rush hour traffic you’ll ever hear. "

  6. 6

    The Go! Team, "Everyone's a VIP to Someone"

    "The Go! Team is very fun and often frenetic (they tour with two drummers, to give you some sense of just how many beats per minute they’re able to hit). This song is kind of an outlier for them: more low-key, and without the fast-talking vocals that characterize many of their songs. This one is pretty chill and would be good for driving past some farms at dusk."

  7. 7

    Jens Lekman, "Black Cab"

    "This is an inspiring night-driving song by my favorite Swedish pop musicians. As the lyrics go: 'Turn up the music, take me home, or take me anywhere.'"

  8. 8

    The Mamas and the Papas, "Go Where You Wanna Go"

    "Nothing can hold you back! Not the people waiting for you at the end of your trip, nor that foreboding red section of your Google map that you are about to hit, nor the fact that you really ought to stop and get gas before it’s too late. Go where you wanna go, and do what you wanna do. That is the road trip motto."

  9. 9

    Counting Crows, "Up All Night (Frankie Miller Goes to Hollywood)"

    "You know how people joke that the Beach Boys only wrote about girls, surfing, and cars? Well, the same could be said about the Counting Crows, except their areas of fixation are insomnia, circuses, and Los Angeles. The lyrics to this one go, 'When the roads are clear, we’ll head on out of here…'"

  10. 10

    RAC, "Tourist (Feat. Tokyo Police Club)"

    "This song did not exist when I was a teenager; it was still about fifteen years away from being recorded. But somehow listening to it makes me feel like I am once again seventeen, driving aimlessly in my 1988 Toyota Corolla with the broken muffler that I’m too lazy/broke to fix and three of my friends stuffed into the backseat, because there’s nothing else to do, and we’re sentimental, but it feels so good."

  11. 11

    Richard Hawley, "Tonight The Streets Are Ours"

    "This is the song that my novel’s named after. It has a beautiful strings section and whenever I listen to it I honestly do feel—as do the characters in my book—like the streets and the nighttime belong to me."

  12. 12

    Bruce Springsteen, "Thunder Road"

    "I mean, come on, this is a road trip."

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