Thursday, October 07, 2010

WXPN's 885 Ultimate Road Trip Songs

Every fall, beginning in 2004, WXPN, 88.5 FM, the radio station owned by the University of Pennsylvania, has entertained us with their annual listener's poll. In previous years fans have voted for their 885 favorite songs, albums, artists, and more. This year, the station will play back the 885 Ultimate Road Trip Songs as voted on by their listeners beginning at Noon on October 11, 2010.

This fall's list is a bit of a challenge. WXPN has asked voters to send in the ten songs that "make you want to hit the road." As expected, voters are mostly picking songs about cars, driving, freedom, and escapism, but any song, from any era or genre, qualifies.

These are not necessarily my ten favorite songs of all time but they are the ones that make me want to roll up my car windows, crank the volume up to eleven, blowup my car speakers, and hit the repeat button to do it all over again. Is there any other way to listen to music in your vehicle?

1. Chicago - 25 or 6 to 4 (Nothing sounds better on an open road than Terry Kath cranking it out.) Read more about this great song here.

2. Jackson Browne - Running On Empty (The very talented multi-instrumentalist David Lindley is not known as a guitar hero but here he gives it his best shot.)

3. Dire Straits - Telegraph Road (This very long track starts quietly and slowly then Mark Knopfler gradually works himself into a frenzy at the end. It's a British, prog-rock version of "Free Bird.")

4. The Beach Boys - Fun, Fun, Fun (One of the best intros to a rock song ever. Go Carl!)

5. Mark Knopfler - Going Home (Theme from Local Hero) (Michael Brecker on sax!)

6. The Clash - Train In Vain (Stand By Me) (These guys transcended punk. This song proved it.)

7. The Beatles - Drive My Car (It was the first song we played on the Bose speaker system the day my wife brought home her new Nissan Maxima)

8. The Cat Empire - Sol y Sombre (Olliver McGill's piano solo ranks among the best I've ever heard by anyone, anywhere. He could be a star in his own right.)

9. Brandi Carlile - The Story (My favorite song of the past decade.)

10. Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road (I know, I know, it's almost a violation if this tune was left off of anyone's list. I'm just a middling Springsteen fan but the lyrical images this tune conjures up are among the best in rock. "The screen door slams, Mary's dress waves"........)


  1. Great list Charlie! I agree with some of your artist inclusions although I'd be apt to choose other material by those artists:

    1. Cat Empire - How to Explain - The Latin-tinged opening track from their debut album! Catchy, infectious, pure musical joy!
    2. Golden Earring - Radar Love - A classic in every sense of the word.
    3. Blue Oyster Cult - Burnin' For You - While I prefer Don't Fear the Reaper, Burnin' For You is much more conducive to driving.
    4. REO Speedwagon - Ridin' the Storm Out - I prefer the album version sung by Michael Murphy over the various live versions with Kevin Cronin on vocals.
    5. The Proclaimers - King of the Road - As much as I love the Roger Miller original. There is something delightfully quirky about hearing this sung with a Scottish accent.
    6. Asia - Heat of the Moment - THE Rock anthem of the early eighties. My wife has been instructed to NEVER change the radio station when this song comes on... at least not until the song is over.
    7. The Who - We Won't Get Fooled Again
    8. Chicago - Mississippi Delta City Blues (not as well known as 25 or 6 to 4 but the version on Chicago XI has long been one of my favorites)
    9. Queen - Fat Bottomed Girls - They make the rockin' world go 'round after all!
    10. Golden Earring - Twilight Zone - Something about these guys... they recorded two of the greatest driving songs I've ever heard!

  2. My picks-

    1) Jackson Browne-Running on Empty
    2) Bruce Springsteen-Thunder Road
    3) Doobie Brothers-Rockin' Down the Highway
    4) Foghat-Road Fever
    5) Deep Purple-Highway Star
    6) Phish-Tweezer
    7) Allman Brothers-Ramblin' Man
    8) Pearl Jam-Rearviewmirror
    9) Golden Earring-Radar Love
    10) Doors-LA Woman

  3. Replace "25 or 6 to 4" with "Free Form Guitar" and you've got a winner list.

    I keed, I keed...