lovehate: The Top Ten Classic Arena Rock Summer Fast Driving Songs of All-Time

Okay, I know it's another list, but this is one I've been thinking about for a while and summer driving has prompted me to put this together. If you have to drive somewhere for about an hour this summer, and you've got some open highway on the way, put this playlist together and hopefully you will be inspired to put the windows down, turn the air conditioning off, and go 10-15 mph over the speed limit... remember I said OPEN road. If I had to give you my straight-up Top Ten Songs of All Time, NONE of these songs would make the cut - but for summer driving, they're perfect.

In my suggested mix CD or playlist order:

  1. Boston - Foreplay/Long Time: Yeah, okay, you all love More Than a Feeling, but nothing in MTAF beat the guitar breaks in Long Time before each "Well I'm takin' my time..." instance. I know some of you may also find the pompous grandiosity of Foreplay a little overbearing while driving, but when the Tom Scholz signature riff comes in after the bass punches at the beginning of Long Time, you know it was worth it. Also, in as much as some of you may argue this is two songs and shouldn't count, tough sh** - my list. Plus, when have you EVER heard Foreplay on its own?
  2. The Allman Bros. - Jessica: A true driving song. It's hard to top the beat this song has when you're chugging down the blacktop with the wind whipping in your hair. The best of Southern Rock and driving music wrapped up in one neat KSA bow.
  3. Rush - Tom Sawyer: If just for the first 30 seconds alone, this song makes drivers jump on the gas pedal and make the dials go to 11.
  4. Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run: I've never been a big fan of The Boss, but I can listen to this song over and over again. Perhaps the only song with glockenspiel that makes the list.
  5. Meat Loaf - Bat Out of Hell: I know some people LOVE Paradise by the Dashboard Light, but the Jim Steinman-penned title track to this epic album kicks serious ass. From here on in, "kicks serious ass" will be reduced to KSA, because it will be used repeatedly.
  6. Foghat - Slow Ride: "Slow ride - take it easy." And yet every time this song comes on I seem to find myself speeding. It's now a song I'll always associate with the film Dazed and Confused - and that's not a bad thing!
  7. AC/DC - Back in Black: AC/DC is SO overplayed. I get that the simplicity of the rock riffs and beats appeal to masses more than almost any other band thats been around for 35 years, and I know that everyone probably has their favorite tune, but for driving, Back in Black is IT. Definitely not what you would call a fast driving beat, it is, however, perfect for pulling up to a stoplight somewhere along your journey.
  8. The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again: CSI has done more to destroy the image of this song than the publicity was worth, but herein again is a case where the long 8 minute or so version is essential to your summer drive. And plus, how can you beat a song where the single coolest lyric is a Roger Daltrey screamed "YEEEAAAAAH!"?
  9. Jackson Browne - Running on Empty: Maybe not the "heaviest" song out there, but definitely one that was written for those behind the wheel. Incredibly singable - there's no way you can avoid belting out the chorus and looking like a fool while soccer moms in their hybrids give you weird glances. That said, if you're driving slow enough to be parallel with a soccer mom in a hybrid for more than a couple of seconds - step on it!
  10. Derek and the Dominoes - Layla (full version): Forget about the short AM radio version that came out back in the 70s. You want the 8 minute long epic with piano and slide guitar at the end so you can imagine you're Henry Hill being chased by a helicopter while on a cocaine bender. When listening to this version, try to also forget the devastating acoustic turn on this song done by Clapton in the 90s... made me want to drive into a telephone pole. The easy ending coda on this song makes it a perfect conclusion to the playlist - perfect for pulling up into the driveway.
If you have longer than an hour to go, please consider some of the tracks that didn't make the cut: Kiss - Detroit Rock City, Doors - L.A. Woman, Golden Earring - Radar Love, Stevie Ray Vaughan - Couldn't Stand the Weather, Queen - Fat Bottomed Girls, Deep Purple - Highway Star, Thin Lizzy - The Boys are Back in Town (I know, done to death, but fits this category so well), Elton John - Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting, Triumph - Magic Power (slow build, but great anthemic climax), and last [on the alternate list] Rainbow - Stargazer (I know a lot of you may not have heard this one before, but this song has a huge KSA factor).

If you want to spend $9.90 on 10 kick ass driving tunes on your favorite mp3 download site this summer, you could do a lot worse, and not much better, than any of these.

Here's a link to a Youtube Playlist I created that has full versions (most with video) to the 10 songs above. The embedded player below seems to have only caught five of the songs while embedding, so click on the link if you want all 10.