Songs for the Long Drive Home
    • MONDAY, JULY 03, 2017

    • Posted by: Jon Hopper

    If you're on the road, chances are you've got some kind of music playing. Traveling -- anywhere, everywhere -- is a therapeutic experience that draws out some of our deepest reflections and alters our perspective in ways we otherwise wouldn't have experienced had we never left the nest. These ten songs are carefully handpicked to give you your most vivid journey home, wherever that may be. The best travelers always pack a pair of extra socks, plenty of snacks, and a good story to tell.

    1. Cage the Elephant - "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked"

    Starting off your journey strong with a unanimous favorite. You know what's ahead, so let's set the tone with a mental note that rest comes when you reach the finish line. I know where I see myself during the second verse; sitting myself down in the driver's seat, twisting the keys, and letting the rolling hum of the bass over me as the engine kicks into life.


    2. The White Buffalo - "Go The Distance"

    By this point, you're just leaving town on the interstate. Now that you've settled into your rhythm and you've got your hands comfortable on the wheel, the landscape just starts to drift by. As it does, so do your thoughts, and maybe you start to think about a special someone in your life. Maybe they're with you, maybe they're waiting for you at home. Either way, it's easy for your thoughts to find a little nook and make themselves comfortable thinking about the positive things in your life.


    3. Al Stewart - "Year Of The Cat"

    If you're a drifter or a wanderlust queen, then Al Stewart is your man. This song is for the people who watch the waves in fields of grain, and gaze at faraway ripples along the ocean cliffside. The music of this song draws you into the scene, dares you to pursue whatever it is you're searching for in the world. Just don't forget to enjoy the moment before it passes.


    4. America - "Ventura Highway"

    You're just a leaf on the breeze of time. Wherever you're going, it's still far, far away, so you may as well just sit back and enjoy the scenery. You don't care where you are, or whether you're driving fast enough to make good time. The sun is burning in your rearview mirror; the colors are warmer, the the shadows are deeper, and the afternoon wind is sweeping over the rolling hills. Sometimes it's not about where you're going, but how you get there.


    5. The White Buffalo - "Home Is In Your Arms"


    You're starting to feel the hours now, and you're missing home like hell. Rain starts to trickle down from shadier clouds as you cross the state line. As it's pattering down on the windshield, your perception of what's around you starts to shrink into the space of the car, where you're safe from the elements but not the woolgathering thoughts that accompany them. If you're anything like me, you probably love when it rains, and I like to let my thoughts settle on something comforting when it's coming down. For you, it might be something different, but for me it's the thought of someone I love and miss dearly, and in a time where there's so much uncertainty in the world, I enjoy the serenity of knowing they're waiting for me when I get home.


    6. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - "Lose Yourself"

    On a long drive, there's always a little time for everyone to sit back and reflect on things. Even when you've got a co-pilot in the passenger side, they're bound to doze off at some point. It's a therapeutic kind of solitude, where you get to feel like a lone wanderer if only for a little while; the boundless explorer who lives every moment exactly as they wish to and has no ties to any one place, but the whole world and all its wonderful, imperfect paths. Take the time, as the rain inches gently up your windshield, to forget about everything else but the road ahead of you.


    7. Golden Earring - "Radar Love"

    By the time you're this far down the list, you probably need a pick-me-up to get you through the last stretch of your trip, so you turn the volume up, and feel the thumping rhythm of a classic Golden Earring bassline shake your senses back into reality. You're done with the quiet, reflective part of your drive, and before you know it, you're belting your lungs out with the band and tapping your free foot in funky rhythm with the kick drum. Eyes ahead, chin up, you've still got a solid ways to go.


    8. Citizen Cope - "Son's Gonna Rise"

    You're getting tired now, even after the rush from all the singing you'll never admit you just did. It's getting dark out, and the sky is still chucking it down on you, but you can see the fading sun breaking through the clouds on the horizon. Not too long now. All there is to do now is keep your eyes focused and your arm steady.


    9. Joni Mitchell - "A Case Of You"

    Finally, the sunset breaks through the darkness and you start to put miles between you and the murky clouds behind you. Even while the landscape darkens, the sky in dusk is like a canvas awash with ambers, pinks, and lavender-blue acrylics. Maybe it reminds you of all the dark times you've left behind, in some absurdly poetic fashion. I've been on many long road trips with many different people, and every new drive reminds me of old laugh lines. Not everyone stays in our lives, however, and many of those old laugh lines go unused, but they never disappear.


    10. The White Buffalo - "Come On Love Come On In"

    That's it! There it is. You can see home on the horizon as the waning amber sun is just about gone. Just a few more miles of aching bones, sore muscles, and cramping kneecaps. You can feel the satisfaction wash over you as you pass the sign that proclaims proudly "Welcome to--". The cool glow of sunset left the sky miles back, but you're finally home, someone waiting for you at the front door, maybe it's a lover waiting to take you back to bed, or your mother pretending she wasn't worried sick the whole time you were on the road. Whatever it is you call home, and whoever you find waiting for you, you made it. Come on in and take a load off. You're finally home.

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