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.
Contrast Homesickness Hymn, which is about being tired of wandering and wanting to return home. 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, Walking the Earth, and Road Trip Plot.
- "Wanderlust" by Heather Alexander/Alexander James Adams
- "Wanderlust" by Baroness
- "Wanderlust"* by BIGMAMA
- "Wanderlust" by Björk
- "Wanderlust" by Flogging Molly
- "Wonderlust King" by Gogol Bordello
- "Wanderlust" by Delays
- "Wanderlust" by Every Time I Die
- "Wanderlust" by Mark Knopfler
- "Wanderlust" by Paul McCartney
- "Wanderlust" by Megadeth
- "The Wanderlust" by Metric with Lou Reed
- "Wanderlust" by Nightwish
- "Wanderlust" by Abney Park
- "Wanderlust" by R.E.M.
- "Wanderlust" by Wild Beasts
- "Wanderlust" by Flo and Joan, a comical example
- "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.
- Poets of the Fall's Driving Song "Daze" is about the highs and lows of touring, dealing with both the thrill of travel and the exhaustion that comes with it.
Rolling down the freeway, master to the speed of light
Screaming up in the air, bursting through the night
No rest, I've stayed here too long, it's time to move on
- "Boatman" by Mono Inc. feat. Ronan Harris.
- "Book of Days" and "On My Way Home" by Enya. Inverted in "I May Not Awaken".
- "Boogie Chillen" by John Lee Hooker
- "We Gotta Get Out of This Place", The Animals
- "Das Wandern" from Franz Schubert's song cycle Die SchöneMüllerin (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 Stevenson)
- 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.
- "Ramblin' Cowboy" by Carson Robison
- "Heads Carolina, Tails California" by Jo Dee Messina.
- "The Way I Feel" by Mary Chapin Carpenter.
- "One Way Ticket (Because I Can)" by LeAnn Rimes
- "Reckless" by Alabama.
- "Nobody's Gonna Rain On Our Parade" by Kathy Mattea.
- "Wanderin' Star", memorably performed by Lee Marvin.
- "My House" by Kacey Musgraves, about life in an RV.
- "A Little Gasoline" by Terri Clark.
- "I've Been Everywhere" by various artists, most notably Johnny Cash.
- "Starting Over" by Chris Stapleton
- "Moving On" by Ryuichi Sakamoto, on the album ''Sweet Revenge',' is a particularly poignant example
- "Dark Drive" by The Rain Within, from the album of the same name. Ditto the title track of Atomic Eyes.
- "Run to the Sun" by Erasure.
- "Let's Take a Car" by Marsheaux.
- "Angeline" by Groove Coverage. Also a One-Woman Song.
- "Get Away" by Shauna Davis.
- "Around The World" by More.
- "In Motion" and "In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry" by Color Theory.
- "Runaway" by Electric Youth.
- "Purple Sun" and "Runaway" by NINA.
- Defied in Kathy Mar's Heartwarming. The singernote spends the entire song declaring her love for the person who finally convinced her to settle down.
- 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?
- "Passenger" by Lisa Hannigan is this combined with Listing Cities.
- 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"\\
- James Taylor's "Wandering".
I've been wandering early and late
From New York City to the Golden Gate,
And it don't look like I'll ever stop my wandering.
- "All Who Wander" by Dougie Maclean.
But all who wander are not lost,
We just like the wind in out face.
Once the raging river's crossed,
We will return to, return to this place.
- "Journey Man" by Korpiklaani.
- "The Road Goes Ever On" by Wuthering Heights.
- "Peace Train" by Cat Stevens.
- "America" by Simon & Garfunkel.
- "Beggars to God" by Bob Franke.
- "The Road" by Frank Turner.
- "Second Child, Restless Child" by The Oh Hellos. The song that immediately follows after, "Wishing Well," then demonstrates why this trope isn't always a good idea.
- "Road Trip" by Runrig.
- "Carefree Highway" and "Long Thin Dawn" by Gordon Lightfoot.
- "Sally" and "Wonderlust King" by Gogol Bordello.
- "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf.
- "Fly by Night" By Rush.
- And the lesser known "Dreamline".
- "Ramble On", from Led Zeppelin II by Led Zeppelin.
- "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.
- "Anywhere But Here" by Rise Against.
- 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.
- Perry Como's "The Gypsy in My Soul".
- "Breaking All the Rules" by She Moves.
- "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo" by Lobo.
- "Breakaway" by Kelly Clarkson.
- "Ticket to the Tropics" by Gerard Joling.
- Neil Diamond's "Glory Road", about hitchhiking.
- Jim Croce's "Sun Come Up".
As I walk this crooked highway
Never knowin' where to go
You know the only life I know is bein' on the road
- Junior Walker's "(I'm a) Road Runner".
I'm a road runner, baby
Can't stay in one place too long
I'm a road runner, baby
Mess with me and I'll be gone
- Charlene's "I've Never Been to Me" is a deconstruction which states that all of the narrator's travels and adventures left her no time for personal growth or a family.
- "Our Hometown" by Bowling for Soup.
- "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."
"Out in the woods or in the city
- "Goin' Mobile" is another one:
It's all the same to me
When I'm driving free, the world's my home."
- Both "Thunder Road" and "Born to Run" from 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"
- More recently, "Hitch Hikin'" and "The Wayfarer" from Western Stars.
- "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.
- "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
- Spoofed with the song "Never Did No Wanderin'" from A Mighty Wind.
- "Movin' Right Along" from The Muppet Movie.
- "The Road Goes Ever On" from The Lord of the Rings starts out as a Wanderlust Song, but ends as a "No Place Like Home"-type song.
- Frozen II: While "Into the Unknown" starts out sounding like a Refusal of the Call, it soon transforms into this when Elsa admits that she's not where she's meant to be and hopes to learn more about herself and her magic by following the voice.
- The Russian film Pro krasnuju Shapochku (about Red Riding Hood) features the "Road Song", stating "If you go a road long enough you can get to Afica" and so on.
- "Wandering Star" from Paint Your Wagon.
- "The First Thing You Know" to a lesser degree, dealing more with Ben's reasons for not wanting to settle down.
- Robert Service touches on this in The Men That Don't Fit in.
- "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:
- Lampshaded by the Narrator:
"At this point in the play, we were planning a show tuneBut we don't know how to write those kinds of tunes"
- During "Passing Phase," which doubles as a Rock Star Song, the main character Youth sings about his plans to "live in vans crammed with guitars / I'll sleep on floors and play in bars / I'll dance to my own metronome / Until chaos feels like home."
- Lampshaded by the Narrator:
- "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.
- "Joey, Joey, Joey" from The Most Happy Fella:
You've been too long in one place
And it's time to go, time to go...
That's what the wind sings to me
When the bunk I've been bunkin' in gets to feelin' too soft and cozy,
When the grub they've been cookin' me gets to tastin' too good,
When I've had all I want of the ladies in the neighborhood.
- "Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home" from St. Louis Woman.
- "There's Gotta be Something Better than This" from Sweet Charity.
- "Tire Tracks and Broken Hearts" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Whistle Down the Wind
- The first song Anya sings in Anastasia is "Journey to the Past".
- Belle's "I Want" Song in Beauty and the Beast doubles as this:
"I want much more than this provincial life!I want adventure in the great wide somewhere!I want it more than I can tell!"
- "Man's Road" from The Last Unicorn, as performed by America.
- Moana has "How Far I'll Go" (which doubles as an "I Want" Song for Moana) and "We Know the Way".
- "Into the Unknown" from Frozen II.
- "When Will My Life Begin?" from Tangled.
- "The Wide Open World" from The Princess and the Pea.
- "I'm Moving On" from the film of Teacher's Pet.
- "Thomas O'Malley Cat" from The Aristocats.
- Steven Universe:
- Subverted with the title song of the episode "On the Run": Steven and Amethyst go on the road, but it's basically just a game to Steven (he got inspired by a series of novels about a pair of homeless brothers), while Amethyst's part becomes a somber musing about how she doesn't feel like she belongs anywhere at all.
- The title song of the episode "Escapism" is about someone in a terrible living situation they wish they could leave.
- "Being Human", the Ending Theme of Steven Universe, is played against a background of Steven driving on the highway, the lyrics implying that to really "be human" you may have to move away to somewhere else. In fact, it's the song Steven is listening to on the radio when he actually moves out for that exact reason.