The 20 Best Driving Songs of All Time
Life on the road as a trucker can be hard, and time can seem to go by at such a slow pace when you’re driving. Finding things to pass the time and keep yourself focused on the road, but we can help you with that. Music is obviously one of the best ways to keep yourself entertained, but radio stations can get boring and repetitive. We’ve made a YouTube playlist (below) of some of our favorite driving songs for you to listen to and included some interesting information about these famous songs that you might not know. Test your friends, family and other truckers with these trivia music facts when you get a chance to relax.
So jam out, sing along, play air guitar or drums and enjoy the ride.
1. On the Road Again, Willie Nelson (1980)
Willie Nelson wrote one of his most famous songs about life on the road at the request of a producer for a film called Honeysuckle Rose, which Nelson starred in. The song won Nelson a Grammy Award for Best Country Song. Rolling Stone ranked it No. 471 on the list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004.
Interesting fact: Nelson wrote his first song at the age of seven.
2. Ramblin’ Man, The Allman Brothers Band (1973)
The song was written by guitarist Dickey Betts, which was inspired by a country song from 1951 by Hank Williams. They were reluctant to record it because it was one of the band’s most country sounding songs. Luckily they went through with it because it became the band’s first and only top ten singles.
Did you know? Gregg Allman shot himself in the foot to avoid being drafted for the Vietnam War. Duane Allman, the eldest brother, was exempt from the draft because he was the oldest male in the household, since his father was murdered by a hitchhiker when the brothers were young.
3. Highway Star, Deep Purple (1972)
In 1971 when a reporter asked the band how they wrote songs, they decided to demonstrate and ended up playing the first version of Highway Star. Deep Purple continued refining it and ended up performing it live that night. It is considered one of the best driving songs.
Bonus info: The band’s original singer, Rod Evans, has not been spotted in public in over 30 years. No one in the band has seen or heard from him.
4. Running on Empty, Jackson Browne (1977)
The song was the title track of the album, also called “Running on Empty.” It was written by Browne when he was driving to the studio every day because he seemed to never have gas. It is can be related to day-to-day life of people traveling and on the road. Rolling Stone ranked it No. 496 on the list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
You heard it here: The song is played in the famous Forrest Gump scene where Forrest runs across the United States.
5. Ventura Highway, America (1972)
The three band members, Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek and Gerry Beckley met at an Air Force base in London where their fathers were based. The song is actually about the Pacific Coast Highway, which goes up to a town called Ventura that Bunnell saw and experienced with his family when they go a flat tire while traveling.
Guess what: America used the phrase “purple rain” in their lyrics which is where Prince got the idea to use it.
6. Take It to the Limit, Eagles (1975)
Randy Meisner was the band member who started writing the song, but apparently he rarely finished songs, so Don Henley and Glenn Frey helped finish it. It is the only Eagles single that Meisner sings lead in, and apparently fans like when Meisner’s sings it live best. Meisner eventually left the band after an altercation with Frey one night when he refused to sing the song in September of 1977.
Entertaining Eagles fact: Timothy B. Schmit, the bassist who replaced Meisner when he left the Eagles, was the same bassist who replaced him in the band Poco
7. Going to California, Led Zeppelin (1971)
Robert Plant supposedly wrote this song about Joni Mitchell, Canadian guitarist. It was originally about earthquakes in California and when guitarist Jimmy page and others traveled to LA to mix Led Zeppelin IV they experienced a minor earthquake, coincidentally.
Busting the Zeppelin myth: Guitarist Jimmy Page was rumored to worship the devil, but he actually believed in Aleister Crowley’s philosophy so greatly he moved into his old house and had “Do what thou wilt,” inscribed in the groove of the original Led Zeppelin III vinyl.
8. Graceland, Paul Simon (1986)
As the title song of the album Graceland, Simon wrote this specific song after he took a road trip to Graceland when his marriage to Carrie Fisher failed. It won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1988. It was listed on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs in 2003, at No. 485.
Fun fact: Paul Simon is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, once as a solo artist and a second time as the group Simon & Garfunkel.
9. Take the Long Way Home, Supertramp (1979)
The last song recorded for Supertramp’s album Breakfast in America, “Take the Long Way Home,” isn’t necessarily about going to your home where your family is, but rather finding your home anywhere, says composed Roger Hodgson. The song reached No. 10 on the charts in the U.S.
Supertramp super fact: The group was originally called Daddy.
10. Black Betty, Ram Jam (1977)
This song was remade into the rock version as we know it from an African-American work song from 1939. The song reached No. 18 on the United States singles chart and was in the top ten in the UK and Australia.
The controversy: The NAACP and CORE called for a boycott of the song, claiming it was insulting to black women given its history, but it still became popular.
11. Me and Bobby McGee, Janis Joplin (1969)
The song was written by Kris Kristofferson, but Janis Joplin’s cover made it popular. It was actually about a female secretary named Bobby McKee, but the name was changed to sound better. Joplin passed away shortly after she recorded the song.
That wild? Janis Joplin was known for her partying, but she once broke a bottle of Southern Comfort (her personal favorite) over Jim Morrison’s head. Morrison (from The Doors) was so impressed, he wanted her phone number to date her, but she declined.
12. Long Train Runnin’, The Doobie Brothers (1973)
Written by lead vocalist Tom Johnston, the single was part of the album The Captain and Me and reached No. 8 on Billboard Hot 100. It is partly so popular because of the harmonica solo by Johnston.
Bet you didn’t know this: Band members “Skunk” Baxter and Michael McDonald played with Steely Dan before joining the Doobies.
13. Truckin’, Grateful Dead (1970)
From the album American Beauty, “Truckin’” is about a drug raid that happened at the band’s hotel rooms in New Orleans during tour that year. It was written by members Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir and lyricist Robert Hunter.
Interesting fact: Jerry Garcia had part of his middle finger accidentally chopped off by an axe when he was four.
14. Take Me Home, Country Roads, John Denver (1971)
John Albert Fitzgerald wrote a letter that contained a poem to Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert, while he was in West Virginia, which inspired the writing of the song. Denver helped them finish it, and it became his. It was certified Platinum on April 10, 2017 and is considered John Denver’s iconic song.
Did you know? Bill and Taffy wanted Johnny Cash to record the song when they started writing it and almost didn’t play it for John Denver.
15. Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen (1975)
Springsteen’s famous song “Born to Run” is No. 21 on the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and is on The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. The song was one of Springsteen’s last attempts to become famous, as his first two albums had little to no commercial popularity. Springsteen has said the song is about searching for a place, whereas the song “Born in the U.S.A.” is about being in that place, which is why the song is so easy to relate to.
16. I’m on Fire, Bruce Springsteen (1984)
As art of the Born in the U.S.A. album, Springsteen experimented with a new sound in this song with a synthesizer. “I’m on Fire” reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart. Unlike other music videos from the album, this song wasn’t a performance clip, but a lyric interpretation.
Did you know? Springsteen performed on David Letterman’s last aired show on NBC.
17. Folsom Prison Blues, Johnny Cash (1957)
This song was first recorded and released by Johnny Cash in 1955, but the live version actually recorded at Folsom State Prison in 1968 was what topped the country music charts. The live version won Cash a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance (the first of four) at the 1969 Grammy Awards.
Cash fact: At one point, he felt that Columbia Records wasn’t paying attention to him, so he recorded a song called “Chicken in Black,” about his brain being transplanted with a chicken’s.
18. Reelin’ in the Years, Steely Dan (1972)
From their Can’t Buy a Thrill album, “Reelin’ in the Years” is one of Steely Dan’s most popular songs, and coincidentally one of their least favorite songs to play. Donald Fagen, vocalist of the song, even told Rolling Stone magazine that the song is “dumb but effective.”
Steely weird fact: Chevy Chase (comedian) was the drummer in Becker and Fagen’s band, Leather Canary
19. Come and Get Your Love, Redbone (1973)
The song was written by brothers Lolly and Pat Vegas and is one of the band’s most successful singles, featured initially on the Wovoka album. It reached No. 5 on Billboard Hot 100, spent 18 weeks on Top 40 and was the fourth most popular song on the Hot 100 for 1974.
What does Redbone mean? The Native American group all decided they would each pick a name and bring it to their record label, and let CBS pick the final name. Other names were Tobias and Crazy Cajun, but Pat pulled a little piece of paper out of his wallet that said Redbone, told the CBS woman it meant “half breed,” and she decided it was perfect.
20. Runnin’ Down a Dream, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers (1989)
The second single on Full Moon Fever, “Runnin’ Down a Dream” was No. 23 on Billboard Hot 100. It was co-written by Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Mike Campbell. It was the official theme song of the NBA Finals in 2006 and 2008.
Change of times: The album was released on CD and cassette, so Petty recorded a hidden track after “Runnin’ Down a Dream” for CD only of him talking, saying he was going to wait for the cassette listeners to flip over to side two.
We’re happy we could help you pass the time during your long driving hours, and we can help you choose the right truck factor as well. If you need help with financing, fuel cards, getting started with factoring or just want to learn more about how factoring works, fill out a form or call us today!