Guide to travel tunes

    The time-honored tradition of the road mix can help you take your mind off the lonely highway or the large passenger sitting beside you on an uncomfortable plane ride. Whatever the situation, these songs and artists specialize in great music of the toe-tapping, bad-sing-along variety.

    1. Coolio — Fantastic Voyage

    Coolio’s excellent mid-1990s gem fuses just the right amount of kitsch and genuine hip-hop smarts and energy to start your trip on the right foot. Come along on a fantastic voyage.

    2. The Beatles — Drive My Car

    Rubber Soul can cut it as travel music alone, but the album’s first song is an obvious choice for car sing-alongs. There are even fake car horns; just don’t honk along or someone will get pissed.

    3. Elastica — Car Song

    Elastica’s “new” new-wave self-titled debut stole riffs from Wire and the Stranglers, among others, but it delivered them with such punk-girl cool that the songs sounded even better the second time around. The whole album is great for the road, but this song is an obvious pick, even if it is about having sex in a car.

    4. The Cure — Jumping Someone Else’s Train

    As long as we’re on the new-wave kick, this tight, menacing Cure number, complete with simulated train noises, should make the trip chug along nicely. Check out any of the Cure’s greatest hits records for more of the same dark-but-hummable tunes.

    5. The Strokes —Automatic Stop

    Everything the Strokes write is catchy as hell, but this song about questionable love triangles (“I wanted her, he wanted me”) fits the bill by completely ripping off song four on the list, complete with train-imitation drumming. Hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the Strokes do it best.

    6. The Velvet Underground — Run Run Run

    It would be wrong to include the Strokes without their forefathers, and this pulsating rocker about the most basic form of travel does the trick more than any other. You can’t go wrong with this band, and any of their four albums work for trips (of varying kinds).

    7. Liz Phair — Divorce Song

    Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville has been called one of the ultimate road albums, possibly due to its overall strength. On this song, Phair details an uncomfortable trip with a jilted lover (“It’s true that I stole your lighter, and it’s also true that I lost the map, but when you said I wasn’t worth talking to, I had to take your word on that”).

    8. The Beach Boys — Sloop John B

    Another ultimate road trip album, Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys offered this excellent sing-along about sailing to counter the album’s sadder moments, although the repetition of, “I wanna go home” is pretty sad when you think about it.

    9. Led Zeppelin — Going to California

    Led Zeppelin’s fourth album (which includes “Stairway to Heaven”) works wonders on the road, even on the softer numbers like this one, where a trip to our sunny state never sounded so haunting.

    10. My Bloody Valentine -—Sometimes

    Not about traveling, per se, but the song fits appropriately in a key scene of “Lost In Translation,” where Scarlett Johansson looks at the dizzying lights of Tokyo from a moving car. My Bloody Valentine’s soothing, trance-inducing noise is perfect for losing yourself in a new place, just like lovely Scarlett.

    11. Belle and Sebastian — I Love My Car

    A jaunty little ode to all things seemingly trivial (including a Beach Boys obsession), the song is basically a placeholder for the indie-pop wonder-band, which has a song to fit every mood of your travels. For more of a pick-me-up, try instead the ’60s-pop homage “Legal Man.”

    12. The Cars — Drive

    Funnily enough, the music of the Cars is always perfect for being in the car, whether it’s the exuberant pop of “Just What I Needed” or a heartfelt ballad like this one. Another Cars song or “Cars” by Gary Numan can work just as well.

    13. Nico — These Days

    Much like My Bloody Valentine’s number, Nico’s song is a great way to lose yourself in a set of headphones. Her dreary, detached voice croons, “I’ve been out walking,” and you feel the weight of the thousand steps. Perfect for reading in the park or crashing in the hotel room.

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