Songs about cars, driving, open highways, speed et al. Very common from US based artists due to the heavy car culture in the States: teens can start driving at 14 in some states so driving is a common cultural touchstone from a younger age than elsewhere. A disproportionate amount of these songs take place either in the south if it's country, or California if it's any other genre due to the prevalence of highways over public transit systems.
Some people see road trips across the US in motorcycle or car as a coming-of-age milestone that's fondly remembered. Youthful road trips in the US aren't generally done because there's no mass-transit alternatives, but because of the freedom they represent to wander around alone on your own (non-)schedule rather than with a bunch of people on a train schedule. There's a popular romanticism to just driving wherever you want for your own pleasure, that is very distinct from day-to-day necessary transport from point A to B, at least in US culture. Most of these songs reflect this aspect of driving as pure recreation, and possibly some sort of wanderjahr-ish self-discovery
Songs about the band or singer being on the road touring are a variation on this. The Truck-driving country
is a sub-trope usually pertaining to country music.
Counterpart trope to Car Song
: that trope is about the love of cars or a car in particular, this trope is about the love of driving, cruising and occasionally speeding. See also Wanderlust Song
, which has some overlap—Wanderlust Song is about the need in general to get away, while Driving Song is about driving as an end in itself. See also Road Movie
, which is a similar trope in another medium. Compare Train Song
- AC/DC: "Highway to Hell" is more about drinking with your friends, but elements of the trope are still there.
- Airbourne: "Overdrive"
- The Alarm: "The Road". No connection to the dystopian novel.
- Alice Cooper: "Under My Wheels" adds a dose of Black Comedy to this trope, as it's about running someone over with your car.
- The Allman Brothers Band: "Midnight Rider"
- America: "Ventura Highway"
- Bachman–Turner Overdrive: "Roll On Down the Highway"
- The Beach Boys:
- "Little Deuce Coupe" is a street racing song, about a Ford Model B (a "deuce coupe") modified for racing, so that it can beat even a Thunderbird.
- "Don't Worry Baby" is also about street racing, but from a more romantic viewpoint.
- Blackfoot: "Highway Song"
- Blue Öyster Cult: "Transmaniacon MC," "The Shadow of California," "Golden Age of Leather," and "Feel the Thunder."
- Bob Seger: "Get Out of Denver," "Turn the Page," and "Roll Me Away," which is about a motorcycle journey.
- BoDeans: "Texas Ride Song"
- Bon Jovi: "Lost Highway" and "Wanted Dead or Alive," a tune about the band's life on the road yet described as a cowboy's journey.
- Bruce Springsteen: "Born to Run", "Thunder Road", "Pink Cadillac", "Racing in the Street"
- Bryan Adams: "Open Road"
- Canned Heat: "On the Road Again"
- Chuck Berry: "Maybelline", "No Particular Place to Go"
- Crush 40: "Watch Me Fly" is about racing, and the entire "Thrill of the Feel" album was released for Sega's NASCAR Arcade.
- Danko Jones' "Code of the Road", in which the singer talks about drifting from city to city living by, well, 'the code of the road'.
- Deep Purple: "Highway Star"
- Diesel: "Sauselito Summer." The song recounts the hazards of driving to San Francisco through Sauselito in a "rambler," a 2-seat coupe with maintenance issues and horrible gas mileage.
- The Doobie Brothers: "Rockin' Down the Highway"
- Eagles: "Life in the Fastlane"
- George Thorogood: "Gear Jammer"
- Gene Pitney: "24 Hours From Tulsa"
- Golden Earring: "Radar Love," commonly regarded as the best driving song in the rock genre.
- The Grateful Dead: "Truckin'"
- Molly Hatchet: "Flirtin' with Disaster"
- Jan and Dean: "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena" is actually based on a then-common stereotype, wherein elderly white couples would move to Pasadena, California only for the man to die and leave his widow with a powerful car that she would never drive. Unlike the stereotype, the old lady in the song not only drove her "Super Stock Dodge," she was in fact an undefeated street racer.
- Jimmy Barnes: "Driving Wheels"
- Jimmy Buffett: Theme for Johnny Bago
- KISS: "Detroit Rock City" is a darker take on this trope, as it ends with the protagonist getting in a deadly car wreck.
- Paul McCartney and Wings: "Helen Wheels"
- Meat Loaf: "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are"
- Rush: "Red Barchetta" and "Ghost Rider," which is about hitting the road to escape from a personal tragedy, based on Neil Peart's personal experience. Overlaps with Wanderlust Song.
- Sammy Hagar: "I Can't Drive 55"
- Slash feat. Nicole Scherzinger and Alice Cooper: "Baby Can't Drive"
- Steppenwolf: "Born to Be Wild," a staple of every motorcycle movie ever (due to Easy Rider).
- Tom Cochrane: "Life is a Highway"
- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: "Runnin' Down a Dream"
- The Who: "Going Mobile"
- ZZ Top's: "Arrested For Driving While Blind," which as the title suggests, is about getting arrested for drunk driving.
- Anthrax: "Metal Thrashing Mad"
- Ariya: "King of the Road (Korol Dorogi)"
- Axel Rudi Pell: "Hot Wheels"
- Black Label Society: "Fire It Up" is more about living life to it fullest, including driving really fast. The band's biker-wear style creates the aesthetic associated with this trope.
- Dio: "I Speed at Night"
- Iron Maiden: "Wildest Dreams," overlapping with Wanderlust Song. "Running Free" also overlaps with Wanderlust Song. This was based on Paul Di'Anno's experiences as a teenage skinhead.
- Judas Priest: "Hell Bent for Leather," "Freewheel Burning," "Riding On The Wind," "Thunder Road," "Wheels of Fire," "Heading Out To The Highway" and "Turbo Lover," which uses racing as a pretty blatant metaphor for sex.
- Manowar have a bunch of songs about riding motorcycles, including "Death Tone" and "Wheels of Fire".
- Megadeth: "Moto Psycho," which uses the trope more negatively: it's about people who spends half their day on the road and the other half working or sleeping, as if in a human hamster wheel.
- Metallica: "Fuel"
- Motörhead: "Iron Horse (Born To Lose)," and "(We Are) The Road Crew," which is about being a roadie.
- Rainbow: "Death Alley Driver"
- Rob Zombie: "Two Lane Blacktop," which was used in Need for Speed: Underground
- White Zombie: "Black Sunshine"
- C. W. McCall: "Convoy"
- Dave Dudley: "Six Days On the Road"
- Eddie Rabbitt: "Drivin' My Life Away"
- Florida Georgia Line feat. Nelly: "Cruise"
- Havalina Rail Co.'s album America is a Concept Album about a cross-country road trip, even though few of the songs are specifically about driving. The different songs correspond to different states of the USA, and the back cover has a map depicting the path of the road trip.
- Jerry Reed: "East Bound and Down"
- Jim Croce:
- "Speedball Tucker" (also about a long-distance truck driver)
- "Rapid Roy" (about a stock car racer)
- Jimmie Dolan: "Hot Rod Race," which was also the song that "Hot Rod Lincoln" (below) was an Answer Song to.
- John Denver: "Take Me Home, Country Roads" is mostly about West Virginia, but it is also about the country road that is taking John Denver home.
- Johnny Bond: "Hot Rod Lincoln"
- Tracey Chapman: "Fast Car." It's actually about driving, but the car is also an indicator that one person in the couple is growing up and the other is not. It ends with the singer telling the man with the car to "Take your fast car and keep on driving" when she gets fed up with him and his neglect of her and their children.
- Willie Nelson: "On the Road Again"
- CAKE: "The Distance," which is mostly about racing.
- Eve 6: "Open Road," which Hangs A Lampshade on this fact at the end of the chorus by saying "this is an open road song."
- Eraserheads: "Overdrive"
- Incubus: "Drive"
- Pearl Jam: "Rearviewmirror." The song is about using a car to escape a bad living situation.
- Poets of the Fall
- "Late Goodbye," the Theme Song of Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, is a melancholy country tune implying a never-ending Stern Chase
Lonely street signs, power lines, they keep on flashing, flashing by
And we keep driving into the night
- Wanderlust Song "Daze" is as much about the highs and lows of touring as it is driving itself, but the video makes a point of emphasizing the latter, as an absconder from a Masquerade Ball glories in driving her car.
Rolling down the freeway, master to the speed of light
Screaming up in the air, bursting through the night
- Kraftwerk: "Autobahn"
- The KLF's album Chill Out is a soundtrack to a late-night/early-morning drive along the US Gulf Coast. Some of the song titles reference locations along the way. Samples of radio broadcasts and railroad crossings appear throughout.
- Depeche Mode: "Behind the Wheel"
- Tom Robinson Band One: "2-4-6-8 Motorway," about driving the UK lorries through the night.
- Stone Sour: "Road Hogs" is a parody of biker lyrics.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic: "Truck Drivin' Song" is a parody of the genre, in which the deep-voiced protagonist drives a truck while wearing excessive amounts of feminine fashion accessories such as high heels, feather boas, jewelry, and still-wet nail polish.
- The Playmates: "Beep Beep (The Little Nash Rambler)"
- Roxette: "Joyride"
- Atmosphere: "Free or Dead"
- To a lesser extent, "Aspiring Sociopath" as well, since it's about a man who fantasizes about abandoning his crappy life and driving away from it all. "He loves the drive more than he loves being alive, and this town doesn't even know his real name"
- Will Smith: "Just Cruisin'"
- Mazda co-opted the Capoeira song colloquially known as "Zoom Zoom" as their unofficial theme music and motto.
- "Moving Right Along" from The Muppet Movie, which Kermit and Fozzie sing as they head towards Hollywood and take many wrong turns.
- The SpongeBob SquarePants special "A SquarePants Family Vacation" had "The Road Song".
- "On the Open Road" from A Goofy Movie, which starts as a Serendipitous Symphony Goofy improvises after Goofy and Max's radio/tape player breaks, and turns into a full-blown crowd song about how awesome driving cross-country is (with Max presenting the opposite viewpoint).
- Phineas and Ferb have:
- "A Little Bit Of Home On The Road" for their rolling truck stop diner.
- "Truck Drivin' Girl"
- "My Ride From Outer Space"
- The Garfield and Friends episode "Truckin' Odie" has the entire episode in song based on this trope.