10 Songs to Hit the Open Road

It's time to buckle up and check out some of the best driving songs rock music has to offer.

Ultimate Guitar

A good tune is what can turn a dull trip into an epic ride. Driving is one of those things that can be taken to a whole new level with some proper music, just like exercise, running, walking and pretty much anything. Rock music had its fair share of driving hits, and when you think about it a bit, it's the car playlists that people most often tend to compile.

So this week we'll check out some of the best tracks to blast on the open road. Some you might know, some may be new to you, but in the end, it's all about the good drive. So buckle up and let's take a ride in the fast lane.

ZZ Top "La Grange"

We'll kick it off with a more obvious choice classic 1973 ZZ Top tune "La Grange." We sort of avoided some of the too obvious picks, as you'll see below, but "La Grange" simply had to find its spot out here. That riff alone is enough to keep you driving on and on for hours.

Lynyrd Skynyrd "Call Me the Breeze"

We're still in the classic rock domain, we've just gone a bit more southbound. A gorgeous cover of JJ Cale's "Call Me the Breeze" by southern rock icons Lynyrd Skynyrd features a steady groove, clever guitar tricks and an epic piano solo, earning them an easy spot on the list. Once the "Call me the breeze / I keep blowing down the road" verse kicks in, there's no better place to be than behind the wheel jamming away.

Anthrax "Metal Thrashing Mad"

Let's take a heavy turn and get some metal blasting out. Just sit in your "street machine of steel," get your "foot pinned to the floor" and listen to those frantic riffs and ripping vocal screams. It's "Metal Thrashing Mad" by Anthrax we're talking about, a definite staple thrash metal driving tune, especially when it comes to the lyrics.

Megadeth "502"

Dave Mustaine and co. are keeping things thrashy with their 1988 track "502." When a song is named after the police code for driving under influence, you pretty much know what you're likely to get. So it's furious riffs, drum bashing and lyrics such as "Full tank, pockets lined with cash / Full throttle, gonna rip some a-s," all of which guarantee a hell of ride.

Motley Crue "Kickstart My Heart"

Some may not find putting Motley Crue after the titans of thrash as too appropriate, but it is how it is. Glam rockers' hit number "Kickstart My Heart" will have you flooring the gas pedal, from the starting motorcycle guitar noises through the very last set of gut ripping guitar riffs.

Nickelback "Midnight Queen"

Say what you want about these guys, and seeing that this is UG (or just the Internet for that matter) it's probably not a whole lot of songs of praise, but you can always count on Nickelback to surprise you with a wall-tearing riff when you least expect it. One such riff can be found on the band's latest release, 2011's "Here and Now," as a part of the "Midnight Queen" track. As philosophical as any other tune about a certain lady who "walks like a model and talks like a trucker, doesn't wanna lollipop but she sure loves a sucker," the song is guaranteed to pump you up behind the wheel.

Savoy Brown "Hellbound Train"

Driving is not always about jamming the pedal to the max or going loco with fuel, sometimes it's those steady, solo night rides that you treasure the most. And if you ever happen to go on such a ride, make sure to pop Savoy Brown's "Hellbound Train" into your player.

The 1972 blues rock gem is perfect for a gloomy night cruise with it's mesmerizing steady bass line and a laid-back groove. Clocking in at 9 minutes, the track is filled with tasty guitar and Hammond fills. Make sure not to miss the part when they kick out the jams a bit in the final quarter.

Metallica "Holier Than Thou"

You probably expected "Fuel," and chances are that it might even fit you better behind the wheel, but there's just something about those talk box fills that gets your blood pressure way up. So we're back in the metal zone with the fastest song off Metallica's eponymous 1991 record. Some good driving choices from the metal giants that crossed our minds also include "Attitude" and "Motorbreath." It's Metallica, so choices are basically infinite.

Pantera "F--king Hostile"

When we've gone heavy, we might as well go all the way. If you're really looking to induce road rage, blast Pantera's "F--king Hostile" and you'll have the engine fired up in no time. If you need a similar follow-up, you can go with "Suicide Note Pt. 2" and switch to full insane mode.

Airbourne "Runnin' Wild"

They've got Lemmy driving a truck, of course they had to be here. But seriously, Aussie rockers Airbourne have put out one of the finest driving songs of the past several years with the 2007 release of "Runnin' Wild." Killer rock riffs, Marshall amp stacks and Lemmy, what else do you really need? And yeah, no AC/DC on the list, but the band that everyone accuses of ripping them off gets a spot; UG logic, go figure.

So of all the lists that could stretch for miles, this one could probably stretch the most. Of course, such classics as "Highway to Hell," Deep Purple's "Highway Star" (or "Speed King"), Judas Priest's "Heading Out to the Highway" or "I Can't Drive 55" by Sammy Hagar most definitely came to our attention along with probably a few hundred of other highway tracks, but we opted not to go with the way too obvious choices. So now it's your turn, let us know what you like cranking up on road in the comments section below.

229 comments sorted by best / new / date

    where the hell is deep purple - highway star?
    They said they're trying to avoid the obvious- it does get a mention at the end though. An interesting list of more obscure driving tracks (obscure as in not ones that immediately come to mind rather than obscure "nobody's heard of theses songs" obscure.)
    Listening to Songs For The Deaf all the way through works too.
    Or Kyuss's welcome to sky valley
    I prefer Blue's for the Red Sun, or DOWN's NOLA but the fact that this song isn't on this list is disturbing.
    It definately is disturbing. And also coincidental that I'm reading your post today as I'm seeing these guys live for the fifth time in a few hours.
    Exactly what I thought. Odd hell bound train made it, but radar love didn't.
    Effing aye! Every morning starts with Gardenia while driving to work. Fudge hells yes.
    Audioslave's self-titled does wonders, too.
    Franko 316
    sounds so sad, but for every exam I've done since first semester university Audioslave has been my pump up ritual during my hour long drive to uni. Cochise!! It'll be on in the car tomorrow. **** you exams.
    Theres never a bad moment for QOTSA...or any Josh Homme in general
    I've been enjoying listening to "...Like Clockwork" in my car, particularly Smooth Sailing.
    I find My God Is The Sun a good fast paced song when I'm racing through traffic to work :p
    I feel that ...like clockwork isn't great as driving music, better for a sit down a listen session. too many slow parts, and its too nuanced to not fully pay attention to it
    Agreed. A "Best Driving Albums" would actually be a cool poll for UG to do, and I'm sure that would be on it.
    Franko 316
    Thats almost the best thing to shout along to ... the best: Proclaimers anybody??? DA DA DADA, DA DA DADA, UNDELA UNDELA UNDELA LA LA LA!!
    Got a car playlist quite similar to this one. Although, Metallica - Fuel, Megadeth - 1,320 and Motrhead - Ace Of Spades are a must have on any adrenaline ride.
    Pretty solid list! Fun fact: The two speeding tickets on my record are both Kickstart My Heart's fault.
    Driving at night listening to Dogs by Pink Floyd is enjoyable. Also, I enjoy listening to Ten by Pearl Jam in its entirety while driving as well.
    Driving in the night also gets me through a couple of RHCP songs like "I could Have Lied", "Scar Tissue" and "Strip My Mind".
    Tom Petty - Runnin' Down a Dream
    a lot of Tom Petty, but Runnin' Down a Dream is a good one. Into The Great Wide Open too
    Came here to post this. Running Down a Dream is a classic driving tune, but Into the Great Wide Open is one of the most underrated albums of all time IMO
    Led Zepplins "Rock and Roll" is another good one. Almost been done for speeding cuz of that one
    "Carry On My Wayward Son" by Kansas is also a fantastic song to drive. That riff, man! Also, "Running Free" by Iron Maiden.
    I listen to different music when driving all depending on time of day, and location. Never been able to cram it all down into a single playlist.
    Nickelback? Really?
    I've always been pretty okay with Nickelback as long as they're not crooning. I've never heard this track before and it's actually pretty decent.
    This list is a joke. In other news, great list, sadly I don't have a car...
    Deal with it. If Nickelback actually sucked like most people claim, they would sell out pretty much every show, their albums wouldn't go platinum( some multiple times) and their music wouldn't be played at sporting events like NHL hockey and other big events
    Your answer is so invalid, explain Lil Wayne and Rihanna please and btw Nickelcok falls into their category as well.
    Cause Music is all subjective. I could ask the same thing about your favourite band.
    I agree with this...music is completely subjective...that's what makes it so great (in my opinion). Just because something gets played on the radio or is considered mainstream/popular, does not make it bad. Hell, Metallica, Nirvana, The Beatles, and Bob Marley still get played more than Rhianna and Lil Wayne. Does this make them all bad bands as well? I'm by no means a Nickleback fan, but I'm not going to go bashing something just because I don't like the sound of it. Oh, and I remember the days when the Smashing Pumpkins were the most popular thing on TV and the radio...and they're your avatar. Just saying.
    You people on this site act like your opinions reflect that of the whole population. I know plenty of people that like Lil Wayne, Rihanna, Nickelback, Eminem, etc. I don't know many that like Alice in Chains, Queens of the Stone Age, and Opeth. Just saying.
    Second Rate
    Well, where I am I know plenty of people who like Alice in Chains, Opeth, Mastodon, Amon Amarth, Dream Theater, and Down..... and I don't know many who can stand Lil Wayne, Rihanna, Nickelback, Eminem, etc. Just saying. now, to npo.... where does anyone say that Nickelback is bad because it is popular? Does it ever occur to uppity defenders like yourself that some of us legitimately do not like Nickelback? Oh, yes, i know, i'm just saying that because they're popular and they're not At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity, Malevolent Creation, etc. That's the entire reason. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that all of their radio ballads sound nearly identical, Chad Kroger's voice literally causes my ears pain, their heavy songs bore me, and I find the mix on their albums to be intolerable. No no, it's all tied to their popularity. The "you just don't like them because they're more popular than your favourite band" argument is played out. Just saying. And as for Rihanna being good at what she does. That may be the case, but she's little more than a glorified trained ape. She regurgitates the words of others, and scarcely writes a note of "her" music. There are already countless other robotic pop stars that do the same. Pardon me for not being impressed.
    Second Rate: My comment was based on solid's post that referenced popularity (going platinum and being played at events), thus my comment is valid. Just because you don't agree with it does not make my opinion any less valid. Once again, it's something that's subjective...we're not speaking in factual data here, just in opinions. Also, you don't need to result to name calling in posts just because you don't agree with someone. To be honest, it detracts from your point and makes you seem less focused on what the conversation is actually about. The term "uppity defender" doesn't really apply to someone playing Devil's advocate. "Just saying."
    Rihanna isn't bad. Just because she doesn't uses guitars in her music doesn't make her not a musician. It's time for instrumentalists to stop thinking the only way to make good music is with instruments. (I'm a guitarist) I believe Rihanna is very good at what she does.
    Exactly what I was thinking, how can Stone Temple Pilots' Interstate Love Song not be on here but Chad Kroeger is. SMH
    Avenged Sevenfold - Bat Country
    He who makes a beast out of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man! that is a great movie by way, if you haven't seen it watch it, it's where the song came from
    Seriously, nobody mentioned Boston? Smokin' should definitely be on this list.
    I love listening to Midnight Rider by the Allman Brothers on the start to a long trip. Just makes you feel like you're doing something right in life. lol.
    I think Jessica makes a nice road trip song. Good background instrumental music that when you are done listening to it, you are like, "Huh, look how much mileage I've done listening to the song." Of course, it could be because I used to watch Top Gear (British version) and that's their theme song.
    Too much metal and not enough Highway Star.
    Second Rate
    C'mon, man. Highway Star IS metal. Also missing from this list: Testament-"Low" King Crimson-"21st century schizoid man" Mahavishnu Orchestra-"Noonward Race"
    Whenever I get my license and car, I am going to spend a bajillion dollars on a sound system just so I can play Map of the Problematique by Muse when driving
    Kudos for making a rather unexpected list! Of course, among the staples, you can't go without Route 66. Recorded countless of times, my favorite version has to be The Count Bishops'.
    No Born to Run? This song is built for driving down the highway and feeling nostalgic!
    That whole album is so perfect, love Springsteen, great driving music. but "The Promised Land" is my personal driving song as far as Springsteen goes.
    Silver Blues
    I think if we're talking Airbourne, then "Let's Ride" is a better driving song. Panama by Van Halen? Red freakin' Barchetta???? Highway to Hell? These things are missing!
    This might sound cliche but I would have liked "Road Trippin'" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers listed on there. I think it's a good song to put before the last song on an "open road" mix.