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Home > car news > Top 10 best summer driving tunes

Top 10 best summer driving tunes

10. Beach Boys - Fun Fun Fun


For summer music, one has to look no further than those deities of the genre; The Beach Boys. Those who do will find rich pickings, as Wilson and co. have plenty of motoring-based gems to choose from, including those which had to be painfully overlooked: 'Little Deuce Coupe', 'I Get Around' and 'Honkin' Down the Highway'. Just pipping all these, though, is 'Fun Fun Fun', the achingly teenage paean to breaking a couple of rules and trying to get around your parents.

The story of one girl borrowing her father's 'T-Bird' to go cruising fast with the radio on loud (despite asking for it to go to the library) can't fail to send even the most stoic motorist into doe-eyed reverence of the first time they ditched those L-plates.

9. Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street


Whilst the story of Baker Street's iconic saxophone solo being played by quiz show hero Bob Holness is little more than urban myth, that doesn't take away from the quality of Rafferty's biggest hit.

Like others on this list, 'Baker Street' is a bright and summery song born out of conditions that were anything but. It came about as Rafferty was put in limbo - not being able to release new music until the affairs of his former band, Stealer's Wheel, were wound up. He ended up taking countless journeys between London and his native Glasgow, which perhaps influenced the unmistakeable Baker Street sound - not to mention the name of the album on which it featured, 'City to City'. It was most certainly responsible, at least, for the line: "When you wake up it's a new morning / The sun is shining, it's a new morning / You're going, you're going home."

8. Don Henley - Boys of Summer


After achieving worldwide success with The Eagles and playing to millions of people around the world, Don Henley used the band's break up to kick start his solo career. After a faltering start, Henley's second album came out to rapturous welcomes - helped in no small part to the near-five minute slice of summer pop glory that is 'Boys of Summer'.

Now, more than two decades on, the lyrics detailing open road drives still resonate with motorists every summer. Not only that, the younger generation has also had every opportunity to fall for the 'Boys of Summer' charm, thanks to high profile covers by The Ataris and DJ Sammy, among others.

7. The Eagles - Life in the Fast Lane


'Boys of Summer' wasn't Don Henley's first foray into summer driving anthem territory, though. That fell to The Eagles' 1977 release 'Life in the Fast Lane'. Often usurped by its wildly famous album-mate 'Hotel California', 'Life in the Fast Lane' still remains a summer driving favourite.

Even though the freeways, highways and engines may be largely metaphorical (the song is actually about a drug abusing couple), 'Life in the Fast Lane' remains close at hand for many motorists' summer driving playlists thanks to its funk-indebted guitar and doo-wop chorus.

6. Meat Loaf - Peel Out

 

 

Subtle, understated and nuanced; three things that Meat Loaf certainly isn't. That's no bad thing, though, as if you want a huge and bombastic driving anthem, it's his music to which you'd turn. Many cite 'Paradise by the Dashboard Light' as Mr Loaf's best dalliance in the automotive world, but today the honour falls to Peel Out, as it is unquestionably more summery.

From its engine-revving intro, 'Peel Out fires through lyrics filled with motoring references and an almost evangelical 'ah ah ah' refrain that makes even Muse look like a temperance meeting. With all this, 'Peel Out' is a driving song that's been fitted with a supercharger.

5. Faithless - Insomnia


The vast majority of well-loved driving songs are expansive, guitar-based, power rock ensembles with lyrics that have one eye firmly on the horizon. Not this one, though. Instead, it's a claustrophobic rap that details a flitting, creative mind as it fires in the still dead of night. Then, behind all this lies a keyboard refrain which pushed Faithless into the stratosphere and redefined modern dance music.
 

Whether driving in the warm summer sun or seeing the night-time beat of red cat's eyes sliding past, 'Insomnia' is among the best soundtracks around.

4. Dire Straits - Telegraph Road


Clocking in at over 14 minutes long, 'Telegraph Road' certainly isn't the type of song you can just pop on for a trip down the shops. Though for any journeys that are as long as the road in writer Mark Knopfler's mind, (one that "just went on and on") this is a fine companion.

'Telegraph Road' details the changing face of one such street, from the days when it was a single track through the addition of schools, churches and, eventually, ill-fated industry. On top of this, of course, is the renowned Knopfler fretwork that's certainly better known from some of his more radio-friendly pieces. This makes for a song that's much more about the journey than it is the destination. 

3. Steppenwolf - Born to be Wild


Now a biker anthem, it may come as a surprise to many that 'Born to be Wild' was initially written (by the wonderfully named Mars Bonfire) as a ballad. After accepting the song, though, Steppenwolf ramped up the tempo to create the classic we know and love today.

Of course, any song that opens with the lines: "Get your motor running / Head out on the highway / Looking for adventure / and whatever comes our way" is destined to be a driving anthem. The fact that it was to become known as the world's first ever heavy metal song can only be a bonus for bikers, who have long been associated with the genre.

This isn't to say 'Born to be Wild' can't be enjoyed on four wheels, though. In fact, people have been doing just that for more than four and a half decades.

2. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Freebird


Driving tracks don't need to be hard rocking metal or thudding dance music, of course. With 'Freebird', Lynyrd Skynyrd created a slice of classic rock that's as soothing as a gentle breeze in a heatwave. Those days spent out in the daylight, not cooped up in an artificially-lit concrete building, lend themselves superbly to the goosebump-inducing "I'm as free as a bird."

Freebird also benefits from offering two types of summer driving anthem in one. The balladeering first half is simply peerless for a drive home from the beach as the last of the light dies, but then to keep you from drifting off into too much reverie, part two cuts in, replete with rolling drumbeats and finger-shredding guitar licks.

1. Fleetwood Mac - The Chain


A A B C B A G A B E. With these ten notes, Fleetwood Mac's John McVie and Mick Fleetwood created a bass riff that would go down in history as one of the best to ever put to record. Not only that, in being picked up by the BBC for its coverage of Formula 1, it was also to become inextricably linked to driving.
 

Leaving it at that, though, would do a disservice to the rest of 'The Chain', which manages to achieve the frankly staggering feat of standing out on an album as full of class as 'Rumours'. From its wild west opening to harmonising chorus and then that bass line, the song is a summer driving classic. So much so, in fact, that if there was any justice in the world, every new car would roll off the production line with this song implanted into the entertainment system, to be played at the touch of a button. Plus, it'd feature in the MOT test: "The horn works?" "Yes." "And the brake lights?" "Indeed." "What about 'The Chain'?"

It really is that good.