Wanderlust Song

We gotta get out of this place
if it's the last thing we ever do

A song about life on the road. Frequently this will be about a young person running away from home, and seeking a better life somewhere else. Anywhere else. This often results from Small Town Boredom, and the belief that life on the road is more romantic.

Related to the Somewhere Song, which is about a specific place where the grass is believed to be greener, and to the "I Want" Song. See also The Runaway and Walking the Earth. For the cinematic equivalent of this trope, see Road Movie.


Titled "Wanderlust"

Other Names

Alternative Rock
  • "The Taste of Ink" by The Used
  • "The World at Large" by Modest Mouse
  • "Dorothy Dreams of Tornados" by Cursive
  • "Naveed" by Our Lady Peace
  • Subverted in "Exotic Siren Song" by Moonshake, in which following his wanderlust pushes the narrator over the Despair Event Horizon.



  • "Das Wandern" from Franz Schubert's song cycle Die schöne Müllerin (The Pretty Milleress).
  • Emmanuel Geibel and Justus Wilhelm Lyra's "Der Mai ist gekommen". This is a very popular genre in Germany.
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams' "The Vagabond" from Songs of Travel, (text by Robert Louis Stephenson)* Giancarlo Menotti's "When the air sings of summer I must wander again," from The Old Maid and the Thief
  • "Slim's Song" from Benjamin Britten's Paul Bunyan (text by W.H. Auden)

  • "King of the Road" by Roger Miller
  • "On the Road Again" by Willie Nelson.
  • "Rambling Man" by Hank Williams
  • "Heads Carolina, Tails California" by Jo Dee Messina.
  • "The Way I Feel" by Mary-Chapin Carpenter
  • "Carefree Highway" by Gordon Lightfoot
  • "One Way Ticket" by Leann Rimes.
  • "Reckless" by Alabama.
  • "Nobody's Gonna Rain On Our Parade" by Kathy Mattea.
  • Wanderin' Star, memorably performed by Lee Marvin.

  • "Moving On" by Ryuichi Sakamoto, on the album ''Sweet Revenge',' is a particularly poignant example

  • Tom Paxton's "Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound" is a song about how wanderlust isn't such a good idea after all: the narrator is lonely and lost constantly traveling. It ends:
    "If you see me passing by, and you sit and wonder why,
    And you wish that you were a rambler too,
    Nail your shoes to the kitchen floor, lace 'em up and bar the door
    And thank the stars for the roof that's over you"
  • "The Greatest Adventure" by Glenn Yarborough. It's the song that plays at the beginning of the 1977 film of The Hobbit.
  • "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman.
    You got a fast car,
    Is it fast enough so we can fly away? We gotta make a decision;
    Leave tonight, or live and die this way?
  • Friedrich-Wilhelm Möller's "The Happy Wanderer" ("Der fröhliche Wanderer")
  • "Boomer's Story" (trad)
  • "Everybody's Talkin'", originally by Fred Neil but famously covered by Harry Nilsson, The Beautiful South, and many others. The singer feels trapped and alienated by urban life and dreams of escaping.
    "I'm goin' where the sun keeps shining
    Through the pouring rain;
    Going where the weather suits my clothes..."
  • Phil Ochs' Song of My Returning; half ode to wanderlust, half love song.
  • "Been On The Road So Long" by Alex Campbell is about a World Half Empty, the general theme being that he might be tired of travelling "the road of no return", but nothing he's seen makes him want to stay anywhere either.
  • "Never Tire Of The Road" by Andy Irvine is a tribute to Woody Guthrie and the life if a traveling musician.
    "Never tire of the road,
    Never tire of the rolling wheel
    Way out yonder's a calling me, and the dark road leads me onward
    And the highway that's my code
    There's a lonesome voice that I heard in my head that said "Never tire of the Road"\\
Folk Metal
  • "Journey Man" by Korpiklaani.
  • "The Road Goes Ever On" by Wuthering Heights

Folk Rock

Gypsy Punk
  • "Sally" by Gogol Bordello

Hard Rock
  • "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf
  • "Fly By Night" By Rush
    • And the lesser known "Dreamline"
  • "Ramble On", Led Zeppelin, from Led Zeppelin II
  • "Stone Free" by Jimi Hendrix
    Stone free, to do what I please,
    Stone free to ride the breeze,
    Stone free, I can't stay,
    I've got to, got to, got to get away
  • Cold Chisel's "Bow River" and "Houndog"
  • "Bat Out Of Hell" by Meat Loaf. It arguably deconstructs the trope, given that the protagonist gets so caught up in the act of getting the hell out of dodge that he ends up wrecking his motorcycle and dying.

Heavy Metal

Indie Rock

Melodic Hardcore

New Wave
  • "Screaming Skin", by Blondie. "Following my lust for wander everywhere I've never been, I can't escape from the sound of it—the sound of my screaming skin."

  • The Russian pop song "Zelenoglazoe taksi" ("Green-Eyed Taxi") by Mikhail Boyarsky is about wanting to leave one's home life and go somewhere far away.
  • "Daddy's Car" by The Cardigans
  • "Far Away Places", originally recorded by Bing Crosby in 1948 and covered by many other artists since.

Pop Punk

Pop Rock

Progressive Rock

Punk Rock
  • "Wayfarer" by Hot Water Music.
  • "Night Train" by Bouncing Souls.
  • The ending of two songs on Green Day's American Idiot have this: "Jesus of Suburbia" and "Letterbomb".
    • "Castaway" from Warning gives off this vibe.

  • "Don't Stop Believin'", Journey
    "Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world,
    She took the midnight train goin' anywhere"
  • "Baba O'Riley", The Who, from Who's Next
    "Sally, take my hand
    We'll travel south, 'cross land
    Put out the fire, and don't look past my shoulder."
    • "Goin' Mobile" is another one:
    "Out in the woods or in the city
    It's all the same to me
    When I'm driving free, the world's my home."
  • Both "Thunder Road" and "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen.
    "We got to get out while we're young
    Because tramps like us, baby we were born to run"
  • "She's Leaving Home" by The Beatles, from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    • And possibly "Ticket to Ride".
    • And the latter part of "You Never Give Me Your Money".
  • Bob Dylan: "Highway 61 Revisited", "Like a Rolling Stone" (sort of) (from Highway 61 Revisited), and "Tangled Up in Blue", from Blood On The Tracks.
  • "Friend of the Devil" by The Grateful Dead.
  • "The Wanderer" by Dion, although it's more about skipping town to avoid being tied down to a single girl. This from the man who brought you "Runaround Sue".
  • "The Loadout/Stay" by Jackson Browne.
  • "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
  • "Friday's Child" by Them (with Van Morrison who later did a solo version).
  • "Turn the Page" by Bob Seger.
  • "Roll Me Away" by Bob Seger
  • "You Can Sleep While I Drive" by Melissa Etheridge
  • "American Ride" and "Vagabond Moon" by Willie Nile.
  • The title song of Jon Bon Jovi's solo album Destination Anywhere.

Roots Rock

Southern Rock

Swing Revival
  • "Wolftown Blues" by the Deluxtone Rockets.
    Small town blues, can't wait to get away.
    Leaving this town ain't no mistake.
    Jump the first rail I got the money to pay.
    On and on, ride these blues away.

Examples in other Media

Anime and Manga
  • Quite a few of the songs associated with One Piece have this theme, since the series is all about sailing the seas in search of adventure.
  • The opening of the first season of Spice and Wolf, "Tabi no Tochuu" ("On a Journey") is half Wanderlust Song, half love ballad. Quite fitting for the series.



Live-Action TV

  • "Skid Row" and "Somewhere That's Green" in Little Shop of Horrors.
  • "Wanderin' Star", from Paint Your Wagon.
  • In the musical In the Heights, Vanessa's "I Want" Song, "It Won't Be Long Now," also takes this form.
    "And one day, I'm walkin' to JFK, and I'm gonna fly!
    It won't be long now, any day."
  • Occurs twice in Passing Strange:
  • "Fortune Favors the Brave" from Aida features the male lead and his shipmates singing about how much they love exploring. Later, "Enchantment Passing Through" finds the two leads sharing their desires to escape their inescapable lives.
  • "Corner Of The Sky" from Pippin functions as one, given that "ramble", "fly" and "run free" are key words in its refrain, and its end-of-the-scene reprises at times when Pippin wants to be somewhere else.
  • The beginning of "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" from "Hello Dolly" (also used as the opening tune to WALL•E). Or it could be a Somewhere Song about New York.
    "Out there,
    There's a world outside of Yonkers
    Way out there beyond this hick town, Barnaby...
    There's a slick town, Barnaby!"
  • "Joey, Joey, Joey" from The Most Happy Fella.
  • "Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home" from St. Louis Woman.

Western Animation