31 Of The Best Songs About Cars And Driving

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

Automobiles have changed our way of life for the better in many ways. Transportation has never been the same ever since. Now it’s easier to get from point A to point B.

Ever since Motorola released the first car radio in 1930, music and cars have been heavily associated with one another. We’re not just talking about people listening to music in their cars, but also songwriters penning songs about cars!

There are too many songs about cars to count. But here we have 31 of the best songs about cars. Have fun reading!

1. “Life Is A Highway” By Rascal Flatts

One of the most famous songs about cars is from 2006. Rascal Flatts released “Life is a Highway” originally for the Disney movie Cars. The word “car” does not appear anywhere in the song, but it’s obviously about driving.

The lyrics compare life to a highway, meaning there are twists and turns and risks along the way. It’s all about the highs and lows with all the potholes and rough roads.

Despite these challenges, the singer is willing to “ride it all night long.” He recognizes that we have to go (or drive) through each of them.

2. “Ride Wit Me” By Nelly

Though Nelly‘s “Ride Wit Me” from his Country Grammar album does not focus on cars, these have an important role in the song. Having a car, particularly a Benz, marks an immense improvement in the singer’s life.

The song highlights Nelly’s journey from poverty to a life of excess. He spent his younger years being a drug dealer. But now he’s “making a living off my brain.” In other words, he’s a rap star. This brought him money, women, and material things he could only wish for.

Nelly also takes a shot at people who doubted him before. Some said he was a failure, but those same people are the ones asking him for money now.

3. “Drive My Car” By The Beatles

Despite The Beatles being no longer together, their music still remains relevant for many people. “Drive My Car” might not be one of their most famous songs, but it deserves a spot on our list. The song came out at the end of 1965 on their Rubber Soul album.

In the lyrics, the singer is told by a woman that she’s going to be a movie star. She offers him to drive her car for her “and maybe I’ll love you.” He tells her his “prospects were good,” but she rebuts by saying that he only earns a little from those.

In the end, it becomes clear that she doesn’t have a car at all. She reasons that she’s “found a driver and that’s a start.”

4. “Shut Up And Drive” By Rihanna

In 2007, Rihanna released one of her successful albums, Good Girl Gone Bad. It contained the single “Shut Up And Drive.” Here, the song uses the automobile as a metaphor for something else.

In the lyrics, the singer talks about how she’s looking for a driver “who is qualified.” She compares herself to a “supersonic speed machine,” hence the need for the right driver.

It’s obvious to some that she’s talking about a partner. But she makes it clear that it must be someone who’s willing to take control and who can handle her.

5. “Drive” By R.E.M.

Rock band R.E.M. is known for its great music and often cryptic lyrics, and “Drive” is no different. The song came from their Automatic for the People album in 1992.

Some people associate the song with having minor political innuendos. Others interpret the song to be more inspiring. Those who belong to the latter hear a message that no matter what’s going on in life, don’t lose your drive for what you want. In other words, take charge of your life.

Aside from being a song with “drive” in the title, there are several car metaphors in the song that helped it land on our list.

6. “Passenger Seat” By Stephen Speaks

Up next, we have Stephen Speaks‘ “Passenger Seat.” This mellow love song, accentuated by a gorgeous acoustic guitar and gentle drumming, is one of the band’s biggest hits.

The 1999 song, released on the album Doubting Thomas, details the feelings a man has for his love interest. They go on a date and go driving at night. The line “Scared to death to say I love her” tells us that he still hasn’t found the courage to admit his feelings.

Nevertheless, he’s sure that he’s the woman for him. In fact, he believes that he has everything he needs “right here in the passenger seat.” She is all he wants and needs in life.

7. “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver” By Primus

The funk metal band Primus has a story, or two, to tell in “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver.” The alternative rock song debuted on their 1991 album Sailing The Seas of Cheese.

The song follows the story of two men: one a race car driver and the other a fireman. But for this entry, let’s focus on Jerry, who is described as a mediocre driver. He never won a race but never came last either. He just raced for the fun of it.

Unfortunately, Jerry met his demise one evening after too many bottles of beer. He rammed into a telephone pole and died. He was only 22 years old.

8. “Cars” By Gary Numan

This catchy single from Gary Numan combines catchy, robotic-toned lyrics with a funky synthesizer. “Cars” was included in the 1979 album The Pleasure Principle. The song reached #1 in the UK and Canadian charts and climbed to #4 in the US.

Numan was inspired to write the song after being stuck in traffic in downtown London. Some people tried to hurt him, so he locked himself inside the car and tried to get away. It gave birth to the line, “Here in my car, I feel safest of all.”

The singer also shares how being inside a car gives you the freedom to filter what receive. He can choose to listen to the people outside the car or ignore them. He can lock out the world from inside his car.

9. “Little Red Corvette” By Prince

In our next song, Prince refers to “Little Red Corvette” literally and metaphorically. The song, from the album 1999, was released in 1983 and gave Prince his first top 10 in the US.

Now, Corvettes are gorgeous cars. They’re known in the market for being a fast car. The singer compares the woman to a Corvette due to her inclination to “love ’em and leave ’em fast.”

This tells us that the woman jumps from one relationship to another. Perhaps she’s only looking for a good time. Or maybe she just has not found the right kind of man. Either way, the singer thinks she needs someone to love her in the right way.

10. “Fast Car” By Tracy Chapman

One of the most famous songs of the 1980s is Tracy Chapman‘s “Fast Car.” It was released in 1988 and is still popular today. The song, however, is not about cars in the literal sense.

The lyrics are written from the perspective of a woman escaping poverty. Her mother left her alcoholic dad, and she’s left to provide for him. But this isn’t the life she envisions for herself. She urges her lover to skip town and make a life for themselves somewhere else.

But things don’t turn out the way she had hoped. While she works hard to pay the bills, he spends more time drinking with friends. In the end, she realizes that she has to decide whether to leave that kind of life or stay and do nothing.

11. “Mercedes Benz” By Janis Joplin

It’s no secret how a lot of people dream about possessing material things. And there’s nothing wrong with it. What’s wrong is thinking that these things could bring permanent happiness. At least that’s what Janis Joplin says in “Mercedes Benz.”

In the song, the singer asks God to give her a Mercedes Benz. She is surrounded by friends who drive Porsches, but a Benz is much better. She thinks she deserves it for working hard without the help of anyone.

In the rest of the song, the singer also asks God for a color TV and a night on the town. She goes as far as asking God to prove His love for her by buying her all these material things.

12. “See The U.S.A. In Your Chevrolet” By Dinah Shore

Who hasn’t thought about driving across the United States and seeing all the sights on the ultimate road trip? “See the U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet” by Dinah Shore is just about that. The song came out in 1949 and was even used in a commercial for the Chevrolet Impala in the 1950s.

In the song, the singer is urging her listeners to travel across the USA in a Chevrolet. She has nothing to say but good things about the car. It drives smoothly “on a highway or a road along the levee.”

So whether you go east or west, a Chevrolet is the best car to bring. What’s more, there are a lot of dealers everywhere, which is proof of the popularity of the brand.

13. “Mercury Blues” By Steve Miller Band

Another song about a particular car brand is “Mercury Blues” by Steve Miller Band. The song is an homage to Mercury, a Ford Motor Company division that closed in 2010.

In the lyrics, we find the singer longing to own “a Mercury or two.” First, he’s crazy about the car. And second, he sees it as a way of getting a girl. He recounts that he lost his girl to a guy just because the latter owned a Mercury.

And so he swears that if he can afford it, he’ll buy himself a Mercury. He’s going to drive and cruise “up and down this road.” And perhaps get himself a new girl.

14. “Born To Run” By Bruce Springsteen

If you find yourself stuck in a place or situation and want to get out, listen to Bruce Springsteen‘s “Born To Run.” Here, the singer is telling us that we don’t have to stay and become stagnant.

The song starts with the singer saying how he works hard during the day. At night, he rides “through the mansions of glory in suicide machines.” Here, suicide machines refer to things that promote early death, such as money and fast cars.

Springsteen sings to a woman named Wendy, urging her to run away with him. He believes that where he is at the moment prevents him from the life he deserves. He wants to “get out while we’re young” and not be like the “broken heroes” who haven’t gotten out successfully.

15. “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66” By Nat King Cole

U.S. Route 66 might be one of the country’s most famous stretches of highway. It was especially popular in the 1930s during the Dust Bowl when people traveled east-west. It’s inspired several songs, including “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66,” which Nat King Cole released in 1946.

The song is all about taking a road trip along Route 66. It starts from Chicago to Los Angeles, with “more than two thousand miles all the way.” Between these cities, travelers can pass by cities in Missouri, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona, among others.

While the song does not mention cars anywhere, it’s understood that a car is one of the best modes of transportation, particularly when we’re talking about a road trip.

16. “On The Road Again” By Willie Nelson

Anyone who feels they aren’t meant to be in one place for too long will relate to this song. Willie Nelson wrote “On the Road Again” for the movie Honeysuckle Rose where he also starred as the main character.

In the movie, Nelson is an aging musician who, along with his band, travels to play across the United States. The song reflects this musician’s excitement to be on the road for their next gig.

Part of the experience is going to places they haven’t been to before. He’s happy making each trip memorable in the company of people he considers his “best of friends.”

17. “Little Deuce Coupe” By The Beach Boys

Surfing, girls, and cars dominated much of The Beach Boys‘ songs. One song about a car is “Little Deuce Coupe.”

The song is about a young man with a new Deuce Coupe car. Everyone can remember how it feels when you get a new car, and this song captures that feeling well.

The lyrics reflect the man’s excitement for his brand new car, that he can’t wait to drive it everywhere and show it off. He goes on to describe what makes it special and how different it is from other cars.

18. “Red Barchetta” By Rush

If you’re looking for another song about a specific car brand, you might like “Red Barchetta.” The Canadian rock band Rush released it in 1981 on their album Moving Pictures.

The song is set in the future, wherein some vehicles are banned by a “Motor Law.” The singer’s uncle has kept a red Barchetta for 50 years in mint condition. The car is one of those banned, but the uncle has done a good job of hiding it in his country home that used to be a farm.

On Sundays, the singer takes the car for a spin. During one of his drives, he is caught by the police in a “gleaming alloy air car.” Good for him, he is able to escape the authority and return the car to his uncle.

19. “Mustang Sally” By Wilson Pickett

Yet another song about a specific car brand is “Mustang Sally” from the 1960s. The song came from Wilson Pickett‘s The Wicked Pickett album.

In the song, the singer gives his lover, Sally, “a brand new Mustang nineteen sixty five.” We can only imagine how exciting it must be for Sally to own this kind of car. Since then, Sally lives a wild life, driving the car around the town.

Too late for him to regret it because now Sally doesn’t want to take him for a ride. In fact, she’s got little regard for him because all she cares about is riding around.

20. “Revenge Of The Middle-Aged Woman” By Tracy Byrd

If you want some funny story involving a car, consider listening to Tracy Byrd‘s “Revenge Of The Middle-Aged Woman.”

We find the singer scouring the newspaper for a cheap car. Imagine his surprise coming across “a two-year-old Mercedes” for sale for only 700 bucks. He calls the woman selling the car and feels like the deal is almost too good to be true.

When he arrives to pick up the car, he finds out that the woman’s husband cheated. She’s getting her revenge by selling his prized possession, his car. It’s a case of a woman being scorned. And so the singer finds himself driving the husband’s car and “sleeping in his bed” as well.

21. “I Drove All Night” By Cyndi Lauper

It’s easy to relate to Cyndi Lauper‘s song “I Drove All Night.” When you’re in love, you will do anything for that person, including driving all night just to be with them.

In the lyrics, the singer and her lover are separated by distance. She’s looking for an escape and thinks about being with him, despite the fact he’s away from her. And while in her car on her way to him, she couldn’t help imagining how their reunion would be.

The lyrics show just how passionate her love for him is. Even with the separation and wherever she goes, she always thinks about him. Her love is so strong that nothing can take it away from them.

22. “I’m In Love With My Car” By Queen

There’s something about owning your very own car. The feeling is akin to falling in love. Queen sings about this experience in their 1975 hit “I’m in Love with My Car.”

The song with “car” in the lyrics is as straightforward as the title. The singer talks with pride as he describes what makes his car special. He even considers it a “machine of a dream.”

And when he’s behind the wheel, the excitement just flows out of him. He declares he’s in love with his car more than his girlfriend, who doesn’t understand his affection for his automobile.

23. “In My Car (I’ll Be The Driver)” By Shania Twain

In our next song, Shania Twain takes a different route in talking about cars. For her, “In My Car” is where she wants to exercise control.

Twain explained how we usually consider ourselves last when it comes to relationships. We do so because we want to make it work. And so we allow our partners to choose what to watch on TV, the flavor of ice cream, or the kind of music to listen to. And it would be fine.

But if there’s one place he’s not allowed to make decisions, it’s in her car. Here, she is in charge, and she is the driver. She won’t let him interfere as long as they’re in her car.

24. “Rockin’ Down The Highway” By The Doobie Brothers

There’s nothing quite like driving down the highway with the top and windows down. The Doobie Brothers released “Rockin’ Down the Highway” in 1972, all about that feeling.

According to the band’s lead vocalist, there’s nothing much to analyze in this song. It reflects him back in the day when he was in the car feeling good about driving up and down the highway.

He wrote about this experience, resulting in a feel-good song. The lyrics describe him smelling the motor burning. He speeds down the highway, attracting the highway patrol. But all he can think about is driving.

25. “All I Wanted Was A Car” By Brad Paisley

There are many songs about cars in the country music genre. Brad Paisley‘s “All I Wanted Was a Car” is one of the best. At its core, it’s a song that mentions “car” as something that the singer badly wants.

This 2007 hit finds the singer making a point about what he wants in life. He mentions how his friends all have larger-than-life dreams. His friend Blake dreams about getting into the NFL. Jenny will go to college after getting a scholarship. Hershel is going to be a movie star.

But him? All he wants is his very own car. He does part-time jobs toward the realization of this goal. His dream of getting his car takes him to the now, when he’s got two vehicles and a family.

26. “Keep Driving” By Meat Loaf

For some people, driving is therapy. Being behind the wheel is what they need to clear their minds. This is exactly what Meat Loaf‘s “Keep Driving” is telling us.

It’s four in the morning when the singer finds himself driving through New York. He feels like the city is a jail and the high-rise buildings are “prison walls.” The “lonely streets” keep him prisoner.

Longing to break free, he takes his car for a drive. While on the road, a memory of someone special in the past resurfaces. He implores her not to wake him up and not to take him home alone.

27. “Greased Lightnin'” By John Travolta

One of the most iconic songs about a car is from the movie, Grease. “Greased Lightnin'” is sung by John Travolta and is the name given to a used car that his character purchased.

For those who are not car enthusiasts, it might be difficult to follow the lyrics. What’s clear is that the singer is talking about all the plans he wants to make to put the car back in good shape. And maybe race it.

The song also explains how the car is so lovely that it will excite all the girls and give the singer the attention he wants.

28. “Highway 20 Ride” By Zac Brown Band

The next entry on our list is a reflective song that will pull at your heartstrings. Zac Brown Band‘s “Highway 20 Ride” tackles the difficulty that divorce places on the relationship between a parent and the child.

In the song, the narrator is a divorced father driving down every two weeks to see his son. The whole arrangement is difficult for him because “there was no other way to work it out.”

Still, he implores his son not to think that he’s a bad father for the way things turned out for their family. He’s a father whose life “begins and ends” with his son. And he’d still drive down Highway 20 fortnightly just to see him for a while.

29. “Getaway Car” By Taylor Swift

World-famous Taylor Swift released “Getaway Car” on her 2017 album, Reputation. Most people know that a getaway car is something criminals use. So it’s no surprise that the opening line is about how nothing good happens when a getaway car is involved.

In the song, Swift uses the concept of a getaway car to tell a breakup story. Her old relationship is heading toward a breakup. She knows that their love story is not going to last, and so they fall apart.

Her new love interest is the getaway car that leads her away from this ending relationship. But “we’d never get far” because their new relationship is not based on a strong foundation.

30. “Freeway Of Love” By Aretha Franklin

The lyrics to Aretha Franklin‘s “Freeway of Love” is simple and fun to listen to. It’s not difficult to figure out what the song is all about.

In its simplest form, the song finds the singer inviting her lover to hop in the car and hit the road. The weather is just right for a joyride in her pink Cadillac convertible. The song suggests that it’s not simply a joy ride. It reflects the status of their relationship.

We can tell they have fun together as they go “ridin’ on the freeway of love.” They have all the time in the world to reach their destination. And fall deeper in love while at it.

31. “My Ol’ Bronco” By Luke Bryan

We’re ending our list with a feel-good song from country singer-songwriter Luke Bryan. “My Ol’ Bronco” brings us back to the day when we had our very first car, despite it not being in its tip-top condition.

For the singer in this song, his car is a 1972 yellow Bronco with “a little bit of rust.” It’s not the perfect car a man can have. It has no doors or windows. And when it rains outside, it also rains inside the car.

But despite it not being a luxury vehicle, he loves it so much, like it’s his pride and joy. It has never let him down, taking him to wherever he wants to be. And most of all, the car is a symbol of the times “when everything felt so free.”

Summing Up Our List Of Cars Songs

Cars are one of the most useful inventions ever. They’ve become central to our lives as parents, students, employees, and ordinary citizens. Can you imagine a world without it? No? Neither can we.

Thank goodness for the songs above, which remind us to appreciate these machines. So if you’re on the road for a trip or just that usual journey anywhere, our list is your perfect companion.

Photo of author

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.