Last weekend's soiree with old friends in the park reminded me of how much I love road trips. Seriously, is there anything that says "summer in America" more than a road trip?
Without a doubt, the soundtrack is a crucial component of any worthy excursion; so bust out some brews, Doritos and/or Funyuns and get ready for the ultimate road trip soundtrack.
Son Volt, "Windfall" - After Uncle Tupelo's unfortunate demise, Jay Farrar knocked the ball way the hell out of the park with the opening track on Son Volt's first album "Trace." If this is not the greatest road trip song ever written, I don't know what is.
Farrar is one of the most gifted songwriters in American history. Rock critics have been kissing Jeff Tweedy's ass for decades, but Jay's the real prodigy. If there were any justice in the music business, he would be a billionaire.
Lucero, "Sixteen" - This is the video for "Sixteen" but honestly there are 20 or 30 Lucero songs that should be on this list. Just when you think Ben Nichols had used up every last hook, he comes up with a dozen more. This is Americana and it is what Memphis is supposed to sound like. Unlike most rock bands, these guys actually get better with each new album. Hell yes.
Built to Spill, "Car" - A great tune from Idaho's own Built to Spill. In 1996, I road tripped for two months straight across the western US with my friend Mike. We listened to "There's Nothing Wrong with Love" every single day of that trip. Sure, "Perfect From Now On" had been out for a few weeks, but our stoke on this album could not be quenched. I liked Tree People, but I love Built to Spill.
Their "Keep it Like a Secret" LP from 1999 is very close runner-up. See "Carry the Zero."
Lee Perry, "Blackboard Jungle" - After all these years, it's still hard to beat the Upsetter.
Jawbreaker, "Save Your Generation" - Yes, it's on a major label and no, it's not "24 Hour Revenge Therapy," but it's damn good. Shouldn't that be enough?
Beastie Boys, "So What Cha Want?" - This is as good as road tripping music gets.
The Pogues, "If I Should Fall From Grace With God," - Subaru used this song in a minvan commercial and now Shane MacGowan has a new set of teeth. It's a close race between this record and "Rum, Sodomy and the Lash," but this one also has "Bottle of Smoke," which has some of the greatest lyrics ever written. It is impossible to have a bad day while listening to this song.
Guided By Voices, "My Son Cool" - In the 1990's, Guided By Voices was 'the next Beatles,' except most of America didn't give a shit. In 1995, I drove from Gainesville, Florida to Atlanta and back again in one night so I could see Guided By Voices play before work the next morning. It was well worth the effort.
Robert Pollard wrote hundreds of songs and many of them are gems. This one is my favorite.
The Replacements, "Answering Machine" - I got to see the Replacements play live twice. The first time, they were completely hammered and couldn't play their instruments. I (reluctantly) saw them live again two years later and was blown away. Paul Westerberg can do no wrong in my book.