June is the first (meteorically, magically, symbolically, whatever) month of summer. Time to get those creepy toes polished up and break out the beach towels. It’s also the start of road tripping season, and there is nothing more essential to the perfect vehicular vacation than a well-balanced mixtape or road trip playlist. Below is a carefully curated selection of those songs, both new and old, that will put a little gas in your tank and make that foot slightly heavier on the pedal.
1. Tegan and Sara, “Boyfriend,” on “Love You to Death,” 2016. Great new song from the twins. Even if you can’t get away for a week, this song will have you dancing during your commute.
2. Tom Petty, “It’s Time to Move On,” on “Wildflowers,” 1994. Road trips seem to be a portal to something new, something unexpected. This song will inspire you to take a trek away from your problems and towards an adventure.
3. Iggy Pop, “Passenger” on “Lust for Life,” 1977. Perhaps the most apropos song for a road trip. “Oh the passenger/he sees things from under glass/he looks through his window side….Singing la la la la….la la la.”
4. Rihanna, “Better Have My Money” on “Bitch Better Have My Money- Single,” 2015. So, careful confession: Oftentimes, while driving in my car, I have a tendency to think I’m a badass. And, it’s not out of character for me to sing this song at the top of my lungs while gesticulating wildly. Try it.
5. Eve, “Let Me Blow Your Mind” on “Scorpion,” 2001. Might be the soundtrack to slowly roll down Ocean Drive in Miami.
6. Moby (ft. Gwen Stefani), “South Side” on “Play,” 1999. You’ve been driving through the desert all day, and now you’re rapidly approaching the lights of a California city. The air has long grown cold, but the streets glow, and the possibilities seem endless.“ See the light come over now…I watch home come over me.”
7. Talking Heads, “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody),” on “Speaking in Tongues,” 1983. When all your friends have fallen asleep and you see their calm faces in the rearview mirror. “It’s OK, I know nothing’s wrong…”
8. Jay-Z (ft. Alicia Keyes), “Empire State of Mind,” on “The Hits Collection, Volume One,” 2010. Um, pretty sure you can figure out when and where to play this song.
9. Sufjan Stevens, “Chicago” on “Illinois,” 2005. Note to tourists visiting the Windy City: Avoid Navy Pier.
10. Natalie Merchant, “San Andreas Fault” on “Tigerlily,” 1995. Go West, young lady.
11. case/lang/viers, s/t, “Atomic Number,” 2016. Pretty much the super group of the summer of 2016. Country enough for a quick Nashville weekend.
12. Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah, “Lake Shore Drive,” on “Lake Shore Drive,” 1971. Because anywhere worth visiting will have a Lake Shore Drive.
13. Billie Holiday, “Stars Fell on Alabama” on “Songs for Distingue Lovers,” 1957. Vacation sex is the best sex. This is mood music for a stopover in the South.
14. Led Zepplin, “Going to California” on “Led Zeppelin IV,” 1971. To play on repeat during a solo road trip made only to escape heartbreak.
15. Shannon and the Clams, “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” on “A Tribute to Pet Sounds,” 2016. Apparently, I’m ripe for a trip to Cali because the surf rock doesn’t get any better than this. Shannon and the Clams are one of my all-time favorites, and they are touring the U.S. with their newest album, “Gone by Dawn.” Plot a trip to catch them in a city you haven’t visited before, and, while you drive there, listen to this awesome Beach Boys’ remake.
16. The Kills, “Doing It to Death” on “Ash and Ice,” 2016. The Kills are one of the most underrated bands around today. Singer Allison Mosshart is sexy as hell, and her sultry voice is at once haunting and eerily soothing. Good song to pass the time to, perhaps on a mountain stretch.
17. Florence and the Machine, “Shake It Out,” on “How Big, How Blue, Howe Beautiful,” 2011.Turn it all the way up and let it all go.
18. M.I.A, “Paper Planes” on “Kala,” 2007. Thinking a trip to Colorado with a big, fat blunt and not a care in the world—if you’re into that sort of thing.
19. The Strokes, “Last Night” on “Is This It?,” 2001. This is a personal favorite that appears on every mix I make for my friend, Katie. We’ve developed alternate lyrics, and they shall remain a secret.
20. Band of Horses, “The Great Salt Lake,” on “Everything All the Time,” 2006. Personally, I might bypass Utah because it, uh, seems very…Utah. This is a wonderful song, though, that makes me think that at least the lake is cool.
Safe journeys, my fellow Rebelles. And, remember, the rules of the road: 1) be open to everything, 2) as Jim Morrison once said, “Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel,” and 3) if you’re traveling with your significant other, remind them of the two most important words in road trip etiquette: Road head.