The Twenty Greatest Driving Songs

This weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summer in Canada. That means the snow has finally melted which will clean up the roads for guys like us to burn some rubber. Not that we lovers of speed need anything to motivate us to put the loud pedal to the floor but one of life’s great pleasures is to crank the tunes and have the wind whip through our hair (or what hair some of us have). However, only certain tunes have you driving full throttle.

So today, we’ve taken up the seemingly thankless task of selecting the twenty best songs that  make you put your foot to the floor and not look back.

20. The Eagles – Life In The Fast Lane

There are two Eagles songs that could make a greatest driving songs list. There’s Take It Easy and Life in the Fast Lane. With the criteria being songs that make you want to put your foot to the floor, that means that Life in the Fast Lane get the nod as The Eagles’ representative on this list. Really, though, you couldn’t go wrong with either.

19. ZZ Top – La Grange

Normally, lyrics about driving cars would help a song make a good driving song. That’s why ZZ Top are down the list with La Grange. If you can’t really make out what the lyrics are, it’s hard to call it a driving song. But when the main guitar riff makes you want to put the loud pedal down, it’s hard to deny it a spot on the list.

18. Tom Cochrane – Life Is A Highway

Well, I was bound to get to some CanCon sooner or later. This is probably the least hard rocking of the rock songs on the list. Mind you, that might be because of the gratuitous amount harmonica (which is something I’ve always wanted to play). It gets on here because it uses driving and highways as a metaphor for life and because of my massive bias towards good Canadian music. As such, there won’t be any Bieber or Nickelback on this list. I did say GOOD Canadian music, after all.

17. A Flock of Seagulls – I Ran (So Far Away)

If you don’t read the blog frequently, you wouldn’t be familiar with our rule that any music list must have a new wave song in it. Okay, I made that rule up because I’m a fan of 80s new wave. Most people seem to find it weird that I like classic rock and new wave because, apparently, they’re mutually exclusive musical tastes. Anyway, it builds up from that iconic long intro to a fast rhythm which is capped off by that great guitar solo. Even if you hated new wave, you have to love this song.

16. Guns N’ Roses – Paradise City

When it comes to G N’ R songs, the only one that qualifies for this list is Paradise City. I know that Welcome To The Jungle and Sweet Child o’ Mine are popular Guns N’ Roses songs but I wouldn’t classify either song as the type that makes you want to put your foot to the floor. Paradise City is definitely helped in that regard by a catchy hook on the chorus and a great Slash guitar solo.

15. Van Halen – Panama

I’m not sure Panama makes this list because of the police car driving scene in Superbad (which is such an awesome movie) or because of its general awesomeness (I really need a thesaurus). It’s tough to listen to that song without screaming “PANAMA!” the whole way through. That and Eddie plays a mean axe.

14. Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run

One of the all-time greatest songs and the best sax solo in rock history doesn’t even crack the top half of this list. It’s mostly because long sax solos aren’t exactly going to make you run full throttle. A song that tells you that we were born to run will make put the pedal to the floor, hence its inclusion on this list.

13. The Dandy Warhols – Bohemian Like You

A 90s rock song that talks about cars and vegan food? How could I not put it on the list? Okay, if it was about cars and grilled food (well, I think drive-thrus do their food more griddled than grilled), it might be a little higher on the list. But with an opening line that goes “You’ve got a great car” and the easy to sing-along with “woo”s, it does make for a decent cruising song.

12. Judas Priest – Turbo Lover

Judas Priest is a band I would describe as loud and loud is good when it comes to driving songs. The fact that Turbo Lover is about turbo Porsches doesn’t hurt this song’s driving song credentials. Well, the song could’ve been called Turbo anything and it would’ve made the list.

11. Paul McCartney and the Wings – Live and Let Die

Before anyone complains about Guns N’ Roses being ranked below a song that they covered, McCartney’s original kicked the G N’ R cover’s ass. That’s why the Wings are here and Guns N’ Roses are trailing by five spots. Anyway, Live And Let Die is the #2 Bond theme of all-time (for the sake of disclosure, it was also the first Bond movie I watched) and clearly the #1 driving song among Bond themes. Sure, it gets a little quiet in the verses but it speeds up and gets loud quickly. That makes it a pretty good driving song.

10. Beastie Boys – No Sleep Till Brooklyn

The recent death of MCA made me want to move this song further up the list but it’s an epic list ahead of this song. No Sleep Till Brooklyn is the only song you could classify as a rap song that’s on this list. That’s a testament to the way that the Beastie Boys were able to blend rap and rock to make great music. Bonus points for the fact that Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, MI, after the command to start engines at every race.

9. The Cardigans – My Favourite Game

I can’t have a list of great driving songs without a song that was inspired by one of the great racing games of all-time. Okay, it was sort of inspired by Gran Turismo. The Cardigans’ Gran Turismo album was named after the game (or so the legend goes). The predominantly electronic backing music does make it stand out on a mostly rock list but trust me and just listen to it. I’m right on this one.

8. AC/DC – Highway to Hell

I had to limit myself to one entry for a few artists but I think that the limit made the AC/DC selection the hardest. Their library has great driving songs like TNT, Back In Black, It’s A Long Way To The Top and Shoot To Thrill. I probably wouldn’t have gone wrong with any of those but I gave the top AC/DC driving song to Highway to Hell. Mind you, I could’ve done a list of just AC/DC songs.

7. Steppenwolf – Born to be Wild

The great Canadian band Steppenwolf gets the spot as top Canadian content on this list. As much as I wanted to put Magic Carpet Ride on this list (which is another amazing song and was featured in a Star Trek movie), Born to be Wild is the better driving song. It probably deserves to be higher on this list but there was some pretty stiff competition ahead.

6. The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary

This song is one of the timeless classic songs that should only be used in the context of fast driving and never remixed with Flo Rida songs for shitty Budweiser commercials. Sorry, that just sort of came out. Anyway, assuming that Bud didn’t ruin this song for you, you could easily understand why it has to be in the top half of the list. An instantly recognizable guitar riff and a beat that goes 0-60 in under 10 seconds gets it to the top of the list.

5. Tom Petty – Runnin’ Down A Dream

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers had easily the best driving song of the last 25 years with Runnin’ Down A Dream. I’m not sure if that says more about Petty or less about the last 25 years’ of music… Anyway, I’m sure Jerry McGuire fans would argue that I should go with Free Fallin’ as Petty’s song on this list. Runnin’ Down A Dream rocks harder (though I could omit saying “harder” and still be accurate) and has a better guitar solo. It’s not even close.

4. Golden Earring – Radar Love

I don’t know much about the Dutch apart from that they like tulips, windmills and drugs. None of those, however, are mentioned in Radar Love. It’s about driving (all night). A song with a quick tempo and about driving is always a safe bet to be a driving song. The staying power of this one shows it’s one of the greats.

3. The Allman Brothers Band – Jessica

This is such an iconic driving song that it’s been the theme song of the iconic car show BBC since the show’s first run which started in 1977. While an instrumental song probably released today probably wouldn’t end up being as big as Jessica ended up being, there’s something timeless about Jessica that keeps it near the top of any educated list of top driving songs.

2. Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now

What could be higher on this list than Top Gear’s own theme song? Just Top Gear’s choice for the greatest driving song ever. Granted, that list also included the omission of Jessica (because it was the show’s theme song) and included Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell but no one’s perfect. The mix of Freddie Mercury, rock piano and one of the great guitar solos of all-time get it near the top of the list.

1. Deep Purple – Highway Star

As much as I wanted to give the top spot to Queen, there simply isn’t a better driving song ever written. A fast tempo, lyrics about driving fast and racing cars and a killer guitar solo in the middle make this as close to perfect a driving song as has ever been crafted.

3 thoughts on “The Twenty Greatest Driving Songs

  1. when i saw you included runnin down a dream I knew you had it nailed *S many a mile has passed with Tom and Benmont accompanying me…


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s