The long hot summer has just begun, and if you’re like most other Australians, you’ve got a road trip planned. To turn heads, throw this eclectic Spares Box summer playlist into your stereo before you hit the tarmac.
Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
Start every road trip with this. Mr. America, The Boss (or Bruce, as his mum calls him), is the ultimate go-to for inspiring any would-be road trippers before their 8-hour adventure becomes a fusion of weariness, wooziness and uncalled for comments. Springsteen’s impassioned, gravelly voice drives an iconic track that steals the show, and is enough to convince you the world is yours. The song itself details his pursuit of Wendy’s love, and – as luck would have it! – he likens himself to a car.
“Wendy let me in I wanna be your friend
I want to guard your dreams and visions
Just wrap your legs ’round these velvet rims
And strap your hands ‘cross my engines”
I don’t know who Wendy is but I hope he found her. I also hope you feel as encouraged as old Bruce intended you to when you turn this up loud as hell.
Gas Pedal – Sage the Gemini
Caution: swift shift in mood from Bruce Springsteen to Sage the Gemini here. This song is about women twerking and not a lot else. However, it’s patently the best song of the decade so far – listen to it. Doodoodooroo doodoodooroo. Just me then? Well if that doesn’t excite you, it also creatively employs phrases usually associated with cars, like “slow down”, “gas pedal” and “speed up”, so you can go faster when Sage tells you to. Then slow down. Then go faster. We have a genius on our hands. There’s nothing like interactive hip-hop.
Bohemian Rhapsody – (the guys from) Wayne’s World
A little-known fact I was recently told is that Mike Myers actually wrote this for Queen. Or was it that he didn’t write it at all? I can’t remember. Nevertheless, there are few more engrossing scenes from the ‘90s world of film than this impromptu rehash of a classic courtesy of everyone’s favourite nobodies, Wayne and Garth. Make your friends join in with this one, and the time will fly by.
Let Me Ride – Dr. Dre
Let’s get back to hip-hop for a minute or two. Twenty-something years ago, Dr. Dre emerged from his NWA past in a 1964 Chevrolet Impala and changed the landscape of music, bringing hip-hop into the very centre of mainstream America. What he also did was create a few delights suitable for road trips – which in my opinion is an equally impressive feat, but I don’t want to put words in your mouth. A standout from The Chronic, Dre’s hugely influential 1992 album, Let Me Ride represents everything that was important about West Coast hip-hop at that time, having emerged from the LA race riots with a deep political subtext. This song is as fun to listen to as it is important though, and is always guaranteed to pull any lagging passengers from their heat-induced funk. Since your hydraulics aren’t as stupendously over-the-top as Dre’s, you perhaps can’t look as cool as he did, but you can at least feel as cool when you turn this banger up.
The Passenger – Iggy Pop
All the energy in the world, however, cannot disguise the fact that road trips can be long in Australia, it’s a bloody big place. So sometimes – even on a summer road trip – you just want to curl into the corner of the back seat and be a recluse for five minutes. Channel your strong silent type. I’m here to tell you that that’s fine, perfectly normal. I recommend Iggy Pop’s iconic, gloomy reminder of how messy the world can be. The Godfather of Punk brings his typical grittiness to this anthem, describing the bleak sights he witnesses from his passenger seat window, from “the city’s ripped back-sides” to the “hollow sky.” But don’t take Iggy’s word for it! Have a look out a see for yourself. Once this brilliant piece of music is done I’d say it’s time for something a bit more hopeful though.
Roadrunner – Modern Lovers
That’s where the Modern Lovers come in handy. Jonathan Richman’s biggest hit is a strikingly simple, two-chord celebration of the freedoms of driving alone around suburban Boston. This is a magical track that doesn’t allow the listener to feel anything but uplifted, detailing how good it feels to be young, with the radio on and a load of road in front of you. It is a celebration of Richman’s environment in 1970s Massachusetts, from supermarkets and restaurants in his neighbourhood to the then-ubiquitous Plymouth Road Runner. However, you can make it a celebration of your surroundings – I guarantee you’ll feel good about them (and you don’t need a Plymouth). Go “faster miles an hour” with a grin on your face and hope in your young heart.
Shut Up and Drive – Rihanna
I might be a firm Modern Lovers fan, but I’m also a strong believer in the view that Rihanna is a musical genius who makes catchier songs than anyone else alive. I’m happy to put that out there, and I’m equally pleased to throw it into our summer playlist. Even her bad songs are all right. Shut Up and Drive invites any driver with a license to join her for a drive in her car.
“I’ve been looking for a driver who is qualified
So if you think that you’re the one, step into my ride”
She doesn’t ask for much, our Ri-Ri. So if you are a qualified driver, you can (pretend to) ride with Rihanna in your own vehicle this summer. This banger also has a helpful bonus in that somewhere near the middle/end of a long, hot summer road trip, you will hate everyone in the car, so you can tell them all to shut up, then blame it on Rihanna.
Mockingbird/Hush Little Baby freestyle – (some of the actors from) Dumb and Dumber
There’s room for fun on every road trip, but as I said, after a few hours in the company of your friends, of listening to your really annoying friend’s cackle, you might want to return the favour. Do your best Jim Carrey in your buddy’s ear, you can even create your own add-ons. Instead of “MOCK!” then “YEAH!”, you could shout “SHUT THE HELL UP”. Pretty creative, right? Failing that, if your friends aren’t irritating, you could just sing it for a laugh. It’s a pretty feel-good tune.
Little Red Corvette – Prince
Prince needs no further introduction, nor does he require a coherent link from the previous paragraph. He’s the coolest man alive. And he’s cooler than all the dead ones as well. Maybe too cool for a summer playlist. But we’ll go with it. Little Red Corvette, no prizes for guessing, isn’t actually about a car. It does have a car in the title though, and it sounds pretty damn nice when you’re winding down a backroad at dusk towards the end of your trip. The song details a one-night stand, of which I presume His Royal Purpleness has had many. This particular one, though, he wrote a song about. The object of his desires is alluded to as a red Corvette; unfortunately for said Corvette, he can only love it for one night.
“And honey, I say Little Red Corvette
Baby, you’re much too fast
Little Red Corvette
You need a love that’s gonna last”
Talk about letting them down easy. You, however, can love your Corvette forever. Turn this track on after a few hours to remind your pride and joy how lucky it is to have you and not Prince.
I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers
Just as a dog isn’t only for Christmas, a novelty song from identical Scottish twins isn’t just for the end of birthday parties in community centres across Scotland. Or is that just my experience? Anyway, as Spares Box’s resident Scot, I feel a summer playlist wouldn’t be complete without some national bias. Everyone and their mum knows the chorus to this one, and although it might not hold much profound meaning, those of you fortunate enough to have a car can thank your lucky stars that you don’t have to walk 500 miles then 500 more. That’s 1000 miles. Walking. Enjoy your drive, you lucky devil, it’s almost over.
Looks Like We Made It – Barry Manilow
…What? You did make it!