Labor Day Road Trip Playlist: From Paul Simon To Pearl Jam, Wilson Pickett To Modest Mouse

It’s the ironically named Labor Day weekend where, if we’re lucky, we have three days off. As you hit the highway for the ‘end of summer’ long weekend, you’ll need a playlist for a holiday whose legacy has become unfashionable. Get those CD burners ready… Here our our 45 Labor Day road trip tracks.

1. Kodachrome – Paul Simon – With a timeless opening line that serves as an anthem for people just out of high school or many years down the road, this song makes you remember the great nights of the soon ending summer and leaves you longing for one last hurrah.

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2. Runnin Down A Dream – Tom Petty – A great road trip song in all ways, kicking off with a hard hitting guitar riff that makes you wanna grab the wheel, and speed off down the highway.

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3. Wrong Way – Sublime – A cautionary tale to all young women, but set to fun, summer music, that makes you forget all about Annie’s problems and laugh with your friends as you drive away.

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4. Little Red Corvette – Prince – Close your eyes and envision yourself cruising down the road in your little red corvette, only to open them and narrowly avoid rear ending someone in your beat up old 99 black Camry. This song remains a great road trip song regardless of what you’re driving.

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5. Low Rider – War – Sure it might be a bit cliché but I defy you to blast this oldie gem while slowly driving through the city and not feel like a stud.

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6. Two Of Us – The Beatles – “You and I have memories, longer than the road that stretches out ahead.” This pretty much sums it up, a beautiful song for you and a very close friend, whether it be a significant other or just an old pal, you’re sure to have some Tommy Boy like tears after singing along to this one on your way home.

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7. Highway To Hell – AC/DC – A bit on the nose to say the least (especially if you are in fact road tripping to hell) but regardless few songs can pump you up like this one when you’re on your last leg of the drive and might be beginning to doze off…

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8. Cities – Talking Heads – All road trips by nature will involve driving through some cities, so why not put this tune on and have travel guide David Byrne tell you all about the different cities of the world.

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9. Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen – A lot of the Boss’s catalogue would fit perfectly for any road trip, but still few have the goosebump inducing qualities like Thunder Road does. A great choice for when you’re nearing the end of your trip and want to make it count.

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10. Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen – Again the Boss is an artist tailor made for road trips, and although he is already represented it would be a sin to not also include “Born to Run.” It’s got a great build up and legendary lyrics for you and your fellow tramps to sing along to.

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11. I’ll Take You There – Staple Singers – I would gladly go anywhere these sultry soul women would take me, and no road trip can survive on classic rock alone. Do yourself a favor and grab this gospel gem before you hit the road.

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12. Deliver Me – Robert Randolph & The Family Band – A pedal steel guitar wizard, Robert Randolph always brings the funk and dance to any situation. So when you are beginning to get tired on that long drive, throw out your energy drink and pop on this Robert Randolph tune and liven up instantly.

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13. Steady As She Goes – The Raconteurs – Jack White’s reminder to you drivers that while road trips are fun, exciting and you can’t wait to get to your destination, just keep it steady and safe my friends, steady and safe.

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14. Go – Pearl Jam – A fast driving song, propelled by a dark guitar riff and quick menacing drums, this is a song for the late night part of your drive to keep you on your toes.

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15. Over The Hills And Faraway – Led Zeppelin – Road tripping to some idyllic countryside getaway? Perfect! Throw on this number and cruise through the hills letting Jimmy Page’s acoustic guitar melody set the mood.
Over The Hills And Faraway – Led Zeppelin

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16. Trucker’s Atlas – Modest Mouse – The opening verses of this song detail exactly where lead singer Isaac Brock will be heading as well as why he’s going there. If you happen to be visiting one of these destinations then you are sure to agree, if not then you’re sure to want to follow him there. Plus its over 10 minutes long for those of you who struggle with choosing song after song on an iPod, just sit back and enjoy.

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17. Overdrive – Foo Fighters – A great pump up tune, designed to kick your body, senses, and vehicle into overdrive.

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18. Interstate Love Song – Stone Temple Pilots – The 1994 hit single from their second album, Purple, this is a great song to listen to while cruising the interstate searching for love…or maybe I missed the point of the song slightly…

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19. The Pusher – Steppenwolf – Sure “Born to be Wild” is their biggest hit and includes the line “get your motor running, head out on the highway,” this is great for the very first 20 minutes of the road trip. However “The Pusher,” is more appropriate for the majority of the remaining trip where you’re simply driving on a long stretch of highway possibly indulging in some boredom reducing activities…

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20. Running on Empty – Jackson Browne – Depending on your age and place in life this song can produce radically different feelings from you, but nothing will change the fact that this is a great song to play on the road to wherever you’re going to.

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21. On The Road Again – Willie Nelson – No road trip is considered legit without playing this song. It’s a law; somewhere, sometime this was made into a law. Don’t break laws people.

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22. Mustang Sally – Wilson Pickett – If you aren’t driving a mustang nor are named Sally then feel free to drive as fast as you want. Otherwise you better slow your mustang down according to this fantastic blues/R&B tune from 1967.

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23. Mercedes Benz – Janis Joplin – A plea from Janis that everyone can relate to, this comes highly recommended as a late night sing along with everyone attempting their best Janis impressions possible (the results may not be pretty).

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24. Fingerprint File – Rolling Stones – The closing track off of “It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll,” this song shows one of the Stones first attempts at more jazz/funk oriented songs and the result is amazing. Combining the classic Stones sound with a new dance style, this song is a sure hit and will make everyone in the car start grooving.

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25. The Wedge – Phish – With lyrics that reference “taking the highway to the great divide,” this song’s bobbing, building rhythm is sure to make you move as you drive on, regardless if you have a true destination or not.

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26. New Speedway Boogie – Grateful Dead – A country outlaw style tune that will set the mood perfectly for a hot day drive through the country.

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27. Truckin – Grateful Dead – No road trip would be complete without this classic from the Grateful Dead. Recorded in 1970 as the closing track on their life changing album, American Beauty, this song would be their highest charting single until Touch Of Grey in 1987, however Truckin’ will always be the longest lasting example of the Dead’s legacy. Sorry no “long, strange trip,” puns here…

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28. Rhythm of the Road – String Cheese Incident – This tune opens with a seemingly innocent, relaxed jazzy feel but eventually builds into an all out jam rock assault that is sure to kick your road trip into third gear. A great introduction into the band if you are not familiar, try to grab the version off the live album, “A String Cheese Incident,” for a good starting point.

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29. Sister Golden Hair – America – Sunshine 70’s pop at its finest, this is sure to fill the car with warmth and joy as you head on your way.

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30. Freebird – Lynyrd Skynyrd – Potentially cliché, through no one’s fault but the people who still insist on shouting it out at every concert event, this song remains a classic rock staple. While at first potentially thinking it cheesy, once the ending guitar assault has finally wrapped up you will have no choice but to admit defeat. Fun Fact, if you’re looking for a completely original take on this song check out Phish’s a cappella version of the song.

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31. Paradise By The Dashboard Light – Meatloaf – Boasting a lengthy song structure with numerous parts in the song, this is a great road trip song to choreograph a dance with your friends and sing along to, to help pass the time.

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32. Midnight Rider – The Allman Brothers Band – When you’ve just about exhausted all your options for entertainment on your lengthy road trip, feel free to put this on and pretend you are a bandit on the run and attempt to flee from various cars…or just listen to the song because its great and don’t be a weirdo.

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33. Ramble On – Led Zeppelin – Another Zeppelin classic, this is one of those rare songs that manages to be a badass rock song and heavily reference Lord of the Rings as well.

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34. Turn The Page – Bob Seger – The lyrics in this song speak directly to those of you out on those lonely highways, driving for hours.

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35. Little Deuce Coupe – Beach Boys – If you enjoy riding in a car and listening to songs about cars then this one is right up your alley. An insanely upbeat pop number that will almost certainly force you to bop up and down on your drive.

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36. Road Trippin’ – Red Hot Chili Peppers – A Chili Peppers fan favorite, although one of their least popular official singles in terms of airplay and sales, this song details Kiedis, Frusciante, and Flea road tripping down to Big Sur to surf after Frusciante rejoined the band. You can only hope your road trip is half as cool as that one.

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37. Generation Landslide – Alice Cooper – An amazing song off of Alice Coopers hit 1973 album, Billion Dollar Babies, this song may be a little lighter than what you might know of or expect from Cooper, and it is sure to put you in a good mood.

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38. Something In The Air – Thunderclap Newman – To me a quintessential road trip song, it exemplifies that classic 70’s rock sound to a T and remains an influence to this day. It has appeared on everything from the Easy Rider soundtrack, to the movies Almost Famous and Kingpin.

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39. Radar Love – Golden Earring – Speaking from experience, this song is specifically designed to force everyone in the car to pump their fists and shout like fools into the night.

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40. Slow Ride – Foghat – One of many songs that the movie Dazed and Confused showed us is pretty much essential to having a successful road trip. Whether on your way to purchasing Aerosmith tickets or just driving to visit your dear old grandmother, this song will get you very excited.

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41. Crosstown Traffic – Jimi Hendrix – The cure for battling the inevitable traffic you will encounter on the road, this fast tune will at once get you fired up yet relieved at having an empathetic voice to your plight in Mr. Hendrix.

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42. Strange Times – The Black Keys – Pretty much all of the Black Keys music is fit for a fast, fun road trip, but their first single off their 2008 album, Attack and Release, contains the exciting, hard hitting music that is perfect for getting started on your journey.

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43. Lay Low – My Morning Jacket – Beginning with a relaxed standard rock sound, this song continues to build and build into an astounding ending jam that will leave everyone in the car feeling like silly gooses for air guitaring so hard.

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44. Camarillo Brillo – Frank Zappa – Featured as the first track on Zappa’s 1973 album, Over-Nite Sensation, which is considered a good starting point for anyone trying to get into Zappa. This song features Zappa trademarks as silly lyrics, his deep overpowering voice, a lot of various percussion techniques and yet is still very accessible and enjoyable to the non-Zappa aficionado.

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45. Highway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan – Besides containing lyrics that all deal with situations occurring on Highway 61, the music was tailor made for a wild road trip. With the famous opening slide whistle and the accompanying loud, banging piano, this song will have you flying around curves and having the time of your life on the road.


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