American mythology begins with the vast unknown places discovered on the open road. Vastness is at the root of the Americas in both continents but, especially, in the United States. Me, I absolutely love the romantic idealism of freedom on that open black top and I’ve highlighted a few favorite tunes that keep me company along those mysterious, endless miles.
Before laying out my brief five-song list, though, I’ve got to make a shout-out to my man, Neil, and his “White Line,” who knows well the taxing cost yet fruitful creativity that comes with the open road. With that in mind, here are those favorite five tunes:
- A Shot In the Arm / I’m Always In Love – Wilco: Two tracks off their magnus opus, “Summerteeth,” these two songs have been many a cause to spontaneously pull off the road, scramble for paper and pen, and jot down newly discovered passages about heartache, hope, and solace along the journey of companionship.
- NYC – Steve Earle and Supersuckers: Less about the ominous uncertainty of a new start for artists, musicians, and adventurers, this song celebrates the excitement of setting course upon a new life.
- Where Will I Be Found – Michaela Anne: She is a bona fide country artist in the old-school tradition who aches over the affairs of that old restless heart and its yearning to find and settle a place called home in this insightful tune. Michaela defines her state of self-discovery in all the places pulling at her soul and you can envision her American West on those long open stretches of desert, mountains, and imagination.
- Working On the Highway – Bruce Springsteen: I’ve got a fictional immigrant character that the Boss inspired with this sweaty tale of a hard luck working class romantic.
- Baby Missiles – The War On Drugs: To be truthful, the song lyrs are completely oblique but it doesn’t matter much. This whole damn album will make you want to fill your gas tank and drive for hours toward the arid country of west Texas or the high-plains piney mountains of New Mexico (love you, my goodhearted soldier, Michael Mendoza).
If you have any favorite road songs that make you feel like you’re 22 years old and ready to conquer the world, drop them in the comments.