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Classics Du Jour
Always classic rock

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Top 10 Classic Rock Road Trip Songs

10 “I’m Bad I’m Nationwide” – ZZ Top

If you’re heading out on a long drive, there’s nothing like some Southern Rock to keep you moving. ZZ Top’s “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide” is an ode to life on the road, no matter what you’re driving.

The song was released as the third track on the band’s 1979 album, Deguello.


09 “Highway Star” – Deep Purple

With a driving beat and lyrics like “Nobody gonna take my head / I got speed inside my brain / Nobody gonna steal my head / Now that I’m on the road again,” Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” will pump you up for any long drive.

The song, which was conceived on a tour bus in 1971, was the opening track on Deep Purple’s Machine Head album the following year. It still remains a staple in the band’s live show.

Here’s the band performing the song on German TV back in 1972.


08 “Running on Empty” – Jackson Browne

It’s no surprise that Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty” appears on our list of the Top Ten Classic Rock Road Trip Songs; Browne wrote it in his car, while driving to the studio each day to make his 1977 album, The Pretender.

The song went on to become the third-biggest hit single of Browne’s career. It features a driving backbeat, which, in addition to its lyrical content, makes it the perfect song for the open road.


07 “Midnight Rider” – Allman Brothers Band

While the Allman Brothers Band originally released “Midnight Rider” on their 1970 album Idlewild South, it was Gregg Allman’s solo version, released as a single in 1973, that made it a top 20 hit. The song has been covered by various other artists including Joe Cocker, Jamaican singer Paul Davidson, and Willie Nelson.

Here’s the Allman Brothers Band performing “Midnight Rider” from Live at Great Woods in 1991.


06 “Born to Run” – Bruce Springsteen

Released on Bruce Springsteen’s 1975 album of the same name, “Born to Run” was a career-defining song for The Boss. While its lyrics are that of a love letter written by a hot-rod-riding protagonist, at the song’s core is a subject so many can relate to; getting out of a small town.

The song peaked at #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 upon its release, but is regularly referred to as one of the greatest rock and roll songs of all time.


05 “Life Is a Highway” – Tom Cochrane

Tom Cochrane’s “Life is a Highway,” released on the Canadian rocker’s 1991 album, Mad Mad World, might be one of the first songs that comes to mind if you’re putting together a road trip playlist.

The song has been covered by numerous artists including Whitesnake, country group Rascal Flatts, and even Alvin and the Chipmunks.

“Life is a highway / I want to ride it all night long / If you’re going my way / I want to drive it all night long”


04 “Runnin’ Down a Dream” – Tom Petty

Released on his 1989 album Full Moon Fever, Tom Petty’s “Running Down a Dream” was co-written by Petty, Jeff Lynne and Mike Campbell. With its propulsive beat and driving guitar riff, the song is a must-listen when you’re hitting the open road.


03 “Highway to Hell” – AC/DC

While this Lynyrd Skynyrd hit was written as a political response to Neil Young’s criticism of the American south with his two songs “Southern Man” and “Alabama,” its references to the south-land and ‘going home’ have made it one of the great road trip songs of rock and roll.

“Big wheels keep on turning / Carry me home to see my kin / Singing songs about the south-land / I miss ‘ole’ ‘baby once again and I think it’s a sin”

The song reached #8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was Lynyrd Skynyrd’s second hit single.


02 “Sweet Home Alabama” – Lynyrd Skynyrd

While this Lynyrd Skynyrd hit was written as a political response to Neil Young’s criticism of the American south with his two songs “Southern Man” and “Alabama,” its references to the south-land and ‘going home’ have made it one of the great road trip songs of rock and roll.

“Big wheels keep on turning / Carry me home to see my kin / Singing songs about the south-land / I miss ‘ole’ ‘baby once again and I think it’s a sin”

The song reached #8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was Lynyrd Skynyrd’s second hit single.


01 “Born to be Wild” – Steppenwolf

If you’re headed out on the open highway with no specific destination in mind, Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” is the perfect road trip anthem. With lyrics like “Get your motor runnin’ / Head out on the highway / Looking for adventure / In whatever comes our way,“ it’s no surprise that the turbo-charged, guitar-driven tune tops our list of the Top Ten Classic Rock Road Trip Songs.

“Born to Be Wild” was the third single from the band’s 1968 self-titled album. It reached #2 in the US and #1 in Canada. Other artists that have covered the song include Ozzy Osbourne, Bruce Springsteen, Blue Oyster Cult, and Krokus.

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