Spongebob: When I'm on the road
I see stuff going by!
When I'm on the road
Patrick: I got a bug in my eye!
Songs about cars, driving, open highways, speed, and so on. 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, whereas 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.
The land of race car ya yas
- "The Distance," which is mostly about racing.
- "Race Car Ya Yas" is a more sarcastic critique of obnoxious drivers:
The land where you can't change lanes
The land where large fuzzy dice still hang proudly like testicles from rear view mirrors
- Eve 6: "Open Road Song" which has Lampshade Hanging on this fact at the end of the chorus by saying "this is an open road song."
- Eraserheads: "Overdrive"
- Incubus: "Drive"
- Melissa Etheridge: "You Can Sleep While I Drive" (also famously Covered Up by Trisha Yearwood)
- The Modern Lovers: "Roadrunner," about a teen who is driving on the highway at night. Has lyrics about the love of the open road, of driving fast, of listening to music, of escaping loneliness, of maintaining your happiness and sanity any way you can.
- 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
- "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
- They Might Be Giants:
- "AKA Driver" is about a trucker trying to reach his destination, which is still "a full day's drive away", while fighting off sleep deprivation and delirium.
- "They Got Lost" is about the band trying to get to a radio station for a guest appearance but getting lost.
- "Car Crash" by Three Days Grace likens a passionate but doomed relationship to, well, a car crash.
All I see is shattered glass and
Red lights passing
My life flashing!
Headed for the same disaster
Faster and faster and faster
- C. W. McCall: "Convoy", which is all about a pack of truckers driving east across the U.S. (and in "Round the World with the Rubber Duck", they end up continuing on and circumnavigating the globe).
- 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" from Smokey and the Bandit.
- Jim Croce:
- "Speedball Tucker" (also about a long-distance truck driver)
- "Rapid Roy" (about a stock car racer)
- "I Got a Name": "Moving me down the highway" as a metaphor for life, also references scenes seen on a highway ("the pine trees lining the winding road"))
- 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"
- Lee Ann Womack: "A Little Past Little Rock"
- Maren Morris's "My Church" combines this with Radio Song, describing driving while listening to music as a religious experience.
- Tracy Chapman: The usual connotations are slowly subverted in "Fast Car." At the beginning of the song, the singer sees her boyfriend's fast car as a ticket to freedom and a better life, but by the end, after he's let her down, she tells him to "take your fast car and keep on driving." In the chorus she reminisces about the brief freedom she felt on the road with him:
So remember when we were driving
Driving in your car
Speed so fast it felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped around my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
I had a feeling I could be someone
- Willie Nelson: "On the Road Again"
- Slim Dusty: A wide selection of his works are about trucking. In particular, "Lights on the Hill".
- Jayne Denham: "Queen of the Road", "Trucker Chicks", "Road Train Fever"
- "Boy Gets a Truck" by Jimmie Allen
- Julie Roberts: "Break Down Here," about driving away from a relationship in a dying car and hoping that she doesn't break down—both literally and figuratively.
- Woody Guthrie: "Riding In My Car (The Car Song)".
- Rod Hart's "C.B. Savage", a spoof of "Convoy", features a convoy of truckers suddenly getting a transmission on their radios from a flaming gay man ("Seen any Smokey Bears? Or maybe some bare Smokeys?"). As the song winds down, the voice suddenly changes from gay to straight and officious as it belonged to a police officer who calls for his squad to shut down the convoy.
- The Medallions: "Speedin'"
- War: "Low Rider"
- Annihilator: "Speed" most certainly counts
Acceleration I gotta, gotta go faster / Give me more speed
They say I'm crazy and I'm headed for disaster / Give me more speed
- 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"
- Stone Sour: "Road Hogs" is a parody of biker lyrics.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic:
- "She Drives Like Crazy" note tells of a girl who is known for terrible driving.
- "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, a feather boa, jewelry, and still-wet nail polish.
- Atmosphere: "Aspiring Sociopath" is 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
- Beastie Boys: "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn" doubles as both this and a Rock Star Song; it features the Boys boasting about their careers as musicians while driving their tour bus from show to show.
- El-P: "Drive" is about the freedom that comes from getting behind the wheel, any wheel.
Don't have to be flashy, I'll use any old ride
Hop in the whip and peel away, stay alive
- 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"
- "Jessica", though it has no lyrics, but was adopted as the theme song for the car show Top Gear
- 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.
- The Beatles' "Drive My Car."
- 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"
- And "Goin' Up the Country''
- 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.
- Dire Straits: "Heavy Fuel"
- The Doobie Brothers: "Rockin' Down the Highway"
- The Doors: "LA Woman"; "Riders on the Storm" contains a dark caution about picking up a certain hitchhiker.
- Eagles: "Life in the Fastlane"
- Foreigner: "Rev on the Red Line"
- 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", "The Rambler"
- Jimi Hendrix: "Crosstown Traffic", using driving in a traffic jam as a metaphor for trying to "get through" to a woman he's pursuing.
- 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 sports 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.
- Mark Knopfler's "Border Reiver" is about driving a lorry (freight truck) of the same model name (produced by the Scottish company Albion, also mentioned) for a living in 1969.
- Paul McCartney and Wings: "Helen Wheels"
- Pearl Harbor And The Explosions: "Drivin'" is a song all about the simple pleasures of driving with no particular destination in mind.
- 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" combines this with Protest Song as he's protesting the since-repealed National Maximum Speed Law. The song tells of how he got pulled over for speeding and then complains about how minding the speed limit hinders him.
- 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.
- "Gimme All Your Lovin'" and "Legs" aren't about cars or driving per se, but the music videos prominently feature the Eliminator Hot Rod as a co-star.
- The Triffids: "Wide Open Road"
- The Blessed Outlaws: "Built to Last", "Behind The Wheel"
- Madness: "Driving in my Car" (also has elements of The Alleged Car)
- Mazda co-opted the Capoeira song colloquially known as "Zoom Zoom" as their unofficial theme music and motto.
- The Bolt Chronicles: "The Car" concerns Penny and Bolt's joy at driving to and from the local diner while listening to music, as well as showing a flashback to Penny's first horrible experience behind the wheel. They listen to several examples of classic driving songs on their way back and forth between the diner, culminating with them singing/barking along to "Roadrunner" by The Modern Lovers.
- The theme song from Hardcastle and McCormick, "Drive" by David Morgan, is a rather passionate take on driving in song form. First stanza:
Slow motion man.
Iron and steel in the palm of your hand.
High flying heart.
Betting your life on the state of the art.
- "I Like Trucking" from Not the Nine O'Clock News
- Parodied in The Office with David Brent's song "Free Love Freeway".
- The Allman Brothers "Jessica", though wordless, for Top Gear
- As shown above on Impractical Jokers, this was Q's punishment for failing this episode, which involved him being forced to drive to a number of far-away locales, all with a crowd of muppets singing a deliberately-obnoxious song on repeat... for eleven hours.
Drive, drive, drive, drive drive,
It feels so good (so good) to be alive!
Are we there yet? (No!) Are we there yet? (No!)
Well then it's one, two, three, four, five! Let's-
- 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", about Candace getting driving lessons in the monster truck her brothers made.
- "My Ride From Outer Space", as Ferb tricking out an alien spaceship and taking it for a test run.
- "Drusselstein Driving Test Waltz", as Doofenshmirtz retakes the driving test of his Cloudcuckooland country of origin.
- The Garfield and Friends episode "Truckin' Odie" has the entire episode in song based on this trope.