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Wanderlust Song

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"We gotta get out of this place
if it's the last thing we ever do"
The Animals, "We Gotta Get Out of This Place"

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 Driving Song, The Runaway, Walking the Earth, and Road Trip Plot.


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    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
  • Deconstructed in "Exotic Siren Song" by Moonshake, in which following his wanderlust pushes the narrator over the Despair Event Horizon. "Capital Letters" similarly has the narrator follow his wanderlust and move to the big city, only to become quickly disillusioned with it.
    • Funnily enough, Moonshake has a song actually titled "Wanderlust" that isn't one of these.
  • 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".



  • "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)


  • "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.
  • Stan Rogers' "Northwest Passage" is about a person driving west across Canada and musing about the first European explorers to trek the same route.
    How then am I so different from the first men through this way?
    Like them, I took a settled life, I threw it all away,
    To seek a northwest passage at the call of many men
    To find there but the road back home again.
  • Woody Guthrie's "Sally, Don't You Grieve":
    I am one of those ramblin' men,
    Ramblin' since I don't know when,
    Here I come and I'm gone again,
    And I told her not to grieve after me.

    Folk Metal 
  • "Journey Man" by Korpiklaani.
  • "The Road Goes Ever On" by Wuthering Heights.

    Folk Rock 

    Gypsy Punk 
  • "Sally" and "Wonderlust King" by Gogol Bordello.

    Hard Rock 
  • "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.

    Indie Rock 

  • "Running Free" and "Wildest Dreams" by Iron Maiden.
  • "Wherever I May Roam" by Metallica.
  • "Wayfarer" by Nightwish;
  • Multiple on Cult of Luna's Somewhere Along the Highway album.

    Melodic Hardcore 

    New Wave 
  • "Roam" by The B-52s.
  • "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."
  • "Six Months in a Leaky Boat" by Split Enz.
  • "Smalltown Boy" by Bronski Beat.
  • The commonly perceived lyrics of "Like The Wind", or The Most Mysterious Song on the Internet, appear to be either this or a Break Up Song.

  • 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" and "Spanish Heart" by Gerard Joling. Both also double as Breakup Songs.
  • 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
  • Jihyo's "Room"
    "I'm going on a trip
    To the far end of the world
    Rattling a tightly locked room
    After checking dozens of times, we're far away"
    (English translation)
  • 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
  • Frankie Laine's "The Cry of the Wild Goose".
    My heart knows what the wild goose knows
    I must go where the wild goose goes
    Wild goose, brother goose, which is best
    A wandering foot or a heart at rest?

    Pop Punk 

    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.

  • Charlene's "I've Never Been to Me" is a deconstruction which states that all of the singer's travels and adventures left her no time for personal growth or a family.

  • "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" 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".
    • The first verse of "Get Back":
    Jo Jo was a man who thought he was a loner, but he knew it couldn't last,
    Jo Jo left his home in Tucson, Arizona for some California grass...
  • 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.

  • 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.


    Live Action TV 


    Puppet Shows 

  • "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.
  • "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.
  • "On My Way" from Violet.
  • "Tire Tracks and Broken Hearts" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Whistle Down the Wind

    Western Animation 

  • Lonesome Road by Gorilla Rodeo!
  • Lonesome Road Frist by Nathaniel Shilkret but has been covered many times over the years.


Video Example(s):


"Into the Unknown"

While "Into the Unknown" starts out as a Refusal of the Call, it soon devolves into this when Elsa warms up to the idea that she could learn more about herself and her magic by following the voice.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / WanderlustSong

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