Songs for a Route 66 Road Trip

Featured Article, On the Road, Travel Destinations
on May 8, 2012

In addition to drumming for the Grammy-winning band Asleep at the Wheel, David Sanger has also produced two CDs of music inspired by Route 66 (The Songs Of Route 66: Music From The All-American Highway and More Songs Of Route 66: Roadside Attractions) and is readying a third, Even More Songs Of Route 66: From Here To There, to be released in July.

We asked him to recommend 10 of his favorite songs as “starters” for a playlist of tunes to accompany any road trip on America’s best-known highway.

Making a road tape (or road mix, road CD or whatever your generation calls it) is a highly personal thing. I know that whenever I assemble my favorite jams for a road trip, I do so with the idea that I will be cranking the music up as far as it will go while simultaneously feeling the 70 mph wind in my hair and singing along with Mick and The Stones as loud as humanly possible. And it’s something you share with someone you really love, or who really loves you.  

It may sound a bit macabre, but I have often thought that if I were involved in a blazing auto crash and I somehow met my early demise, fate would have it that a music-loving highway patrol officer (probably a casual guitar player himself) would notice a tape in the cassette player. Curiosity getting the best of him, he would push play and be amazed and inspired by the music that just happened to be in the car at the time of the accident. This may actually lead to the cure for cancer. That’s one reason it is very important not to play bad music on the road.

Now, if you combine this rather obsessive notion of road tapes with Route 66, you really have some powerful juju. Traveling the Mother Road is almost a religious experience for me. It is present-day and American history coexisting. It is scenic vistas, huge cities, crumbling main streets and revitalized small-town energy. It is time alone and time spent swapping stories with others. It is looking at old photos and creating new ones.

Route 66 is the main artery of the USA, coming straight out of the beating heart of this country. Now how are you supposed to create an appropriate music mix for this?  Well, let’s give it a shot.

Route 66 road songs