22 Of The Best Songs About Roads And Highways

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

Do you love road trips? We certainly do! There’s just something freeing about hitting the road and discovering places that satisfy your wanderlust.

But before you get in your car and set for your next destination, how about creating just the right kind of playlist? Better yet, how about the playlist about roads? It sets the right kind of mood as you travel for hours and enjoy the scenery.

To help you with that playlist, here we have compiled 22 of the best songs about roads. So what are you waiting for? Let’s go!

1. “Highway To Hell” By AC/DC

What a way to begin our list! But here it is, “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC. The song rapidly established itself as a cornerstone of rock and roll. Its rebellious vibe paints a picture of life on the open road, evoking feelings of freedom and adventure.

Coupling hard-hitting guitar riffs with powerful vocals, AC/DC captures the essence of an endless journey full of exploration. Despite its intimidating title, “Highway to Hell” is far from gloomy. Instead, it expresses liberation and excitement for what lies ahead on metaphorical paths and routes traveled.

This song profoundly influenced highway songs that followed in its wake while cementing its place as one of the top songs about roads.

2. “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” By Elton John

One of the most popular hits about roads is Elton John‘s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” The titular road here was inspired by the movie The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy and company traverse the yellow brick road.

In the song, the yellow brick road is a metaphor for opulence. The singer has lived an extravagant life and has seen enough to decide to turn away from all of it and choose a life of simplicity.

In that case, he longs to go back to his roots on the farm, regretting why he didn’t do it sooner. He prefers his plow rather than being kept in a penthouse.

3. “On The Road Again” By Willie Nelson

The poetic flair of Willie Nelson manifests in the song “On the Road Again.” This classic, released in 1980, is an anthem for those bitten by wanderlust and a yearning to explore. Told through poignant lyrics, it portrays the beauty of constant travel.

Nelson’s melodic voice resonates with every traveler’s soul as he sings about making music with his friends and perpetually being on the move. This is one perk of being a musician, to meet people and reach places he’d never been to before.

And the more people and places he sees, the thirstier he becomes for being on the road. The lyrics tap into our common desire for adventure, defining freedom as open roads that stretch out ahead.

4. “Life Is A Highway” By Tom Cochrane

Canadian rocker Tom Cochrane struck gold with his hit song “Life is a Highway.” This ’90s anthem taps into the freedom and possibility of an open road journey, speaking for the wanderlust of many listeners.

Its upbeat rhythms and catchy chorus have made it one of the most popular songs about traveling on highways. In the lyrics, the singer likens life to the road people travel on. Sometimes you have to bend to follow the road. And sometimes you “turn your back to the wind.”

In short, life is a long, winding highway filled with adventures. And part of life is to embrace every twist and turn along the way.

5. “Take It Easy” By Eagles

With its catchy guitar riffs and laid-back vocals, it’s impossible not to feel a sense of wanderlust when listening to our next song. “Take It Easy” by the Eagles is a classic anthem that captures the essence of leaving your worries behind.

In the lyrics, we find the singer running down the road in search of a way to lighten the burden he carries. It turns out he is plagued by seven women, all of whom have feelings for him.

He tells himself to take life at his own pace and not let stress consume him. The chorus, “Take it easy, don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy,” serves as a reminder to enjoy the journey rather than rushing toward an uncertain destination.

6. “Route 66” By Chuck Berry

One of the most appropriate songs to listen to when you’re on the road is “Route 66.” This classic rock and roll hit by Chuck Berry commemorates one of America’s most iconic highways.

The lyrics describe Route 66 as a pathway from Chicago to Los Angeles. The singer advises his fellow travelers to follow this highway and take advantage of passing through several cities.

Starting from Chicago, Illinois, the highway traverses Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and Minnesota. Then down by New Mexico, Arizona, and ending in California. With Route 66 being the best course, there are more than 2000 miles to cross.

7. “Born To Run” By Bruce Springsteen

When you listen to the entirety of Bruce Springsteen‘s anthem, “Born to Run,” it will take you right back to high school. It marks the time when you want to get out of your town and find your place in the world.

“Born to Run” captures the essence of youthful rebellion and the desire for freedom on the open road. The singer urges his girl Wendy to get out while they are young. He believes that staying is like a “death trap.”

However, he is hopeful that they can break free, leave, and never go back to such life. He is in search of something more than their town can provide. And with him by his side, they can carry on despite the challenges.

8. “Running On Empty” By Jackson Browne

Another timeless classic finding its way to our list is “Running on Empty” by Jackson Browne. This song perfectly captures the essence of life on the road.

Browne uses the diminishing gas on his car as a metaphor for his life lately. As he looks at the road from behind the wheel, he wonders where the time has gone by.

At some point, he was 17 and 21. But now he feels like he’s running behind even though he’d been running for so long. Apparently, he’s not the only one, for he finds his friends running as well.

9. “Sweet Home Alabama” By Lynyrd Skynyrd

The perfect song to listen to while on the road is Lynard Skynyrd‘s “Sweet Home Alabama.” This road trip anthem captures the spirit of a Southern adventure and will surely get you in the mood for hitting the open road.

Released in 1974, it celebrates Lynard Skynyrd’s home state of Alabama and has become synonymous with Southern pride. The singer finds himself on the road on his way to see his family back in “Alabamy.”

The truth is that the band wrote this song as a response to Neil Young’s “Southern Man.” In this song, Young accuses that racism was rampant in the South.

Lynyrd Skynyrd wants to remind him that not all Southerners are the same. Despite the controversy, “Sweet Home Alabama” makes it a perfect choice for long drives and spontaneous adventures.

10. “Hit The Road, Jack” By Ray Charles

Released in 1961, Ray Charles‘ version of “Hit the Road, Jack” was a critical and commercial success. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for two weeks in that same year.

With its lively rhythm and Charles’ soulful vocals, this song is a back-and-forth between a man and a woman. In the famous chorus (usually sung by women), she tells Jack to “hit the road” and not come back anymore. He doesn’t have money in his name, so he’s no good for her.

Jack answers by telling her she is the meanest person he had ever known. Nevertheless, he relents and agrees to pack his bags.

11. “Road To Nowhere” By Talking Heads

Up next, we have a song with “road” in the title. Talking Heads‘ “Road to Nowhere” captures the sense of uncertainty in life’s journey.

In the song, the singer experiences the feeling of being lost or unsure about his path. He and his lover are on a road to nowhere, depicting their unknown future. A future that’s characterized by the knowledge of where they are going but not where they have been.

Surprisingly, the couple does not mind because they know what they want out of life. The singer is confident that they can work out their future.

12. “King Of The Road” By Roger Miller

A classic hit that perfectly captures the spirit of life on the road is “King of the Road” by Roger Miller. The clever lyrics and catchy melody make it an instant favorite for anyone who dreams of exploring and freedom.

The song follows the carefree lifestyle of hoboes. These are migrant workers who travel and work. They even refer to themselves as the “king of the road.”

Hoboes cannot afford a comfortable life most of the time. They are men “of means by no means.” However, they enjoy plenty of freedom.

13. “I Can’t Drive 55” By Sammy Hagar

Released in 1984, “I Can’t Drive 55” by Sammy Hagar is a classic rock anthem that captures the spirit of rebellion and the need for speed on the open road. This high-energy song became an instant hit and remains a favorite among driving enthusiasts.

The lyrics express frustration with speed limits that restrict the singer from driving fast. The title refers to the maximum speed limit of 55 mph imposed during the oil crisis in some parts of America. The law aimed to prevent the overconsumption of fuel as high speeds mean more fuel burned.

Despite being apprehended, the singer challenges the authority to write him a ticket and post his face. They can even confiscate his license for all he cares.

14. “Wheels” By Foo Fighters

Up next is “Wheels” by Foo Fighters, a captivating rock anthem about endings and beginnings. The song was released in 2009 from their Greatest Hits album.

If you listen to the beginning of the song, it gives us the idea that the singer is singing about the wheels of a plane landing on the road. He expresses his fear of what could happen as the plane goes down.

However, it can also be a metaphor for a relationship that’s about to end. “When the wheels touch ground,” he realizes that the end is also a beginning for something new.

15. “Ventura Highway” By America

Another song to play when you’re on a road trip is “Ventura Highway” by America. Released in 1972, this song takes listeners on a nostalgic journey down a freeway in California.

The band’s songwriter, Dewey Bunnell, shares that the Pacific Coast Highway is the basis for the titular highway. He remembers the travels he had with his family when he was young, especially along the coastline.

His other childhood experiences also ended up in the song, such as a time when he and his brother watched clouds of different shapes. Hence, the line in the song goes, “Alligator lizards in the air.”

16. “Thunder Road” By Bruce Springsteen

American singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen appears for the second time on our list, this time with “Thunder Road.” This classic anthem captures the essence of youthful dreams and the desire for freedom. The song begins with a harmonica melody that sets the mood for an epic journey.

In a song with “road” in the lyrics, the nameless narrator sings about the object of his affection, Mary. We are treated to a vivid picture of her dancing across the porch as a Roy Orbison song plays on the radio. Though he’s “no hero,” he offers her a chance by skipping town “full of losers” and winning with him.

Together, they ride his old, burned-out, but trusty Chevrolet. They are free tonight as they traverse Thunder Road to their “promised land.”

17. “The Long And Winding Road” By The Beatles

Our list of songs that mention “road” will not be complete with The Beatles‘ “The Long and Winding Road.” Even more than five decades after its release, listeners still resonate with the message behind this timeless classic.

Paul McCartney wrote the song in response to the growing tensions within the band. The titular road here refers to B842 near his High Park Farm.

In the lyrics, the singer expresses his sadness over the direction his life is taking. He speaks of the many times he found himself alone and crying. He feels frustrated over the fact that others will not know that he did his best. But perhaps the most painful is being left standing alone.

18. “Highway Star” By Deep Purple

Should you decide to listen to “Highway Star” by Deep Purple, make sure you don’t end up speeding. This adrenaline-fueled rocker will get your adrenaline pumping as it talks about a man and his love for his car.

Not just any car, though. It’s the kind of fast car that can race anything on the road. In the first verse, the singer makes an outright declaration that no one else can take his prized vehicle. He sees it as “a killing machine” that has everything, including “fat tires.”

Being on the road in his car makes him feel he is “in heaven again.” With the power that being behind the wheel gives him, he is a highway star. The sense of urgency and excitement has him racing down the highway with no intention of slowing down.

19. “Fast Car” By Tracy Chapman

One of the best romantic ballads out there is Tracy Chapman‘s “Fast Car.” It’s a heartfelt and introspective song about a person longing for escape but failing to do so.

“Fast Car” captures the essence of a restless spirit yearning for something more than her current circumstances. The singer is tired of her job and of taking care of her old father. She longs to escape to the city, where she figures she and her lover can find jobs, start over, and do better with their lives.

And so she urges her lover to drive his fast car anywhere. For the first time in a long time, she feels belongingness. Driving on open roads gives her solace from life’s struggles.

20. “Roadhouse Blues” By The Doors

Apparently, The Doors frontman Jim Morrison was drunk when the band recorded “Roadhouse Blues.” What a contradiction, considering the song starts with the need for a clear mind while behind the wheel.

The inspiration behind “Roadhouse Blues” is Topanga Corral, situated in the area where Morrison lived. To get there, one has to drive through twists and turns. Hence, the line in the song goes, “Keep your eyes on the road, Your hand upon the wheel.”

The song also refers to a bungalow that Morrison bought for his then-girlfriend Pamela Courson.

21. “Highway 61 Revisited” By Bob Dylan

One of the songs that are proof of Bob Dylan‘s songwriting genius is the 1965 “Highway 61 Revisited.” It was released from the album of the same name and made its way into Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The song begins with a biblical story involving God testing Abraham’s faith by having his son, Isaac, sacrificed on the mountain. But in Dylan’s song, it’s on Highway 61 instead of the mountain.

Highway 61 is a real highway that connects Duluth, Minnesota, where Dylan was born, and New Orleans, Louisiana. The song consists of five stanzas, each about a particular problem that can be resolved on Highway 61.

22. “Six Days On The Road” By Dave Dudley

At the end of our list is “Six Days on the Road,” made famous by country music star Dave Dudley. It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs and #32 on the Hot 100.

This song is all about the life of an American truck driver who’s been on the road for six days in his efforts to reach home that night. He talks about what’s like to work as a trucker, including the experiences he has when passing through different states.

The singer also brings light to the effect his job has on his personal life. As his job requires him to be on the road most of the time, he constantly misses his loved ones. But that will soon come to an end, for tonight, he’s coming home.

Summing Up Our List Of Roads Songs

We have come to the end of our list today, and we hope you’ve found new songs for a new playlist!

But more than that, we hope we were able to show you through the songs the essence of the open road and the spirit of adventure. Appreciate the freedom that comes with embarking on a journey, whether on physical roads or metaphorical ones.

So roll down your windows, turn up the volume, and let the songs be your company along the winding roads ahead.

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.