15 Songs From the '70s That Define Wanderlust
Whilst brainstorming post ideas, I realized I hadn't yet conjured up a travel/road trip playlist on the blog and that seemed to be something that needed remedying. The first few songs that came to mind happened to be hits from the 1970s, so I decided to run with that all the way.
Staying true to form, I had to exclude great road trip options such as "Born to Be Wild (Easy Rider)" by Steppenwolf (1969) and "On the Road Again" by Willie Nelson (1980) — but that didn't stop me from mentioning them just now, did it?
Let's get down to business then:
1. Ramblin' Man by The Allman Brothers Band (1973)
This is basically the first song I think of when relating travel and music. In fact, I find it so inspirational that I named another travel blog of mine after it (see that here, if you're interested; you'll notice some shameless recycling has been done). I'll spare you by refraining from posting the video I took of myself singing this song while climbing a Vermont mountainside.
2. Two Tickets to Paradise by Eddie Money (1977)
I remember this song being used as a hint for a radio contest where they were giving away tickets to a concert in some fabulous place or other. While I don't recall where the winner of that giveaway would be going, "Two Tickets to Paradise" certainly makes you think of warmer pastures — say Hawaii or the Bahamas.
3. Ride Like the Wind by Christopher Cross (1979)
If you've seen Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, "Ride Like the Wind" might just call to mind an image of David Spade choreographing a dance routine. It might also make you want to hop on a bike and head south for the border.
4. Fly By Night by Rush (1975)
Though more of an I'm-leaving-and-starting-anew kind of song — in my opinion, that is — "Fly By Night" makes for an excellent driving-at-night anthem. Plus, Rush is just awesome, so...
5. Slow Ride by Foghat (1975)
I don't think there is a lot of explanation or justification required in including "Slow Ride" on this list. It's more or less an iconic song that instantaneously drums up an image of driving down the open road.
6. Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd (1973)
Speaking of iconic music... It doesn't really get more classic rock than Lynyrd Skynyrd, and "Free Bird" is the kind of song you'd sync up for a long drive down a dark desert highway (though there are no pitstops at Hotel California on this list (sorry)).
7. Rocky Mountain High by John Denver (1972)
If you've followed along with this blog for a long time (it's okay, I know you haven't), you'd know my love for John Denver is common knowledge. "Rocky Mountain High," the second official song of the state of Colorado, is the bee's knees, the cat's pajamas, and any other positive phrases involving animals wearing clothing. John's description of the Colorado countryside is more than enough to get the wanderlust flowing.
8. Me and You and a Dog Named Boo by Lobo (1971)
This Lobo track from the 1971 album Introducing Lobo is essentially the essence of #VanLife, a hashtag invented/inspired by people who make a living while constantly being on the road — literally living in a van down by the river. The New Yorker published an illuminating article on this very topic in April.
9. Roadrunner by The Modern Lovers (1976)
Another driving-at-night kind of tune, which encourages listeners, again and again, to keep the radio on. "The highway is your girlfriend as you go by quick/ Suburban trees, suburban speed/ And it smells like heaven, I say" — good stuff, good stuff.
10. I Got a Name by Jim Croce (1973)
Pretty sure I first heard "I Got a Name" as part of the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino's film Django Unchained. Watching Jamie Foxx's character saddle up alongside Christoph Waltz, it was basically love at first listen. And it's a great song to put on while you're rolling down the highway, of course.
11. Truckin' by Grateful Dead (1970)
Gotta love a song with a shoutout for Detroit, and from the Grateful Dead no less. This is a chill road trippin' (truckin') song if ever there was one.
12. Radar Love by Golden Earring (1973)
"The road has got me hypnotized/ I'm speedin' into a new sunrise," George Kooymans sings during a verse partway through "Radar Love." As with many of the songs listed here, this is a road tripping song all the way. Apparently, it was supposed to appear on the Grand Theft Auto V soundtrack but was omitted for some reason or another. Clearly, their bad.
13. Running on Empty by Jackson Browne (1977)
I know Jackson Browne better for songs like "Somebody's Baby"(1982) and "Take It Easy" (1972), but "Running on Empty" is the tune of his that meets the criteria here. I can directly link this song to a road trip of my own, too, because I kind of ran out of gas on the way to Delaware last summer.
14. Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd (1974)
Similar, in theme, to John Denver's ode to Colorado, Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" has a way of making you wish you were heading down south (or north, I suppose, if you're in Florida). It really doesn't matter your destination though; throw this song on and it's wheels up for wherever you might be heading.
15. Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver (1971)
And we close out with another mention of my main man, this time with what is probably his other most popular and most well-known song, "Take Me Home, Country Roads." This is rural West Virginia in song form, the perfect soundtrack when driving through that hilly country.
See any glaring omissions? Feel free to let me know.