27 Feb 8 Best Albums For Truckers On The Road
A great song is like an exciting chapter in a book; it makes you wonder what’s next, and works best when experienced as a part of a collection. Here are eight albums that will make your trip an enjoyable one.
8. The Joshua Tree, U2 (1987)
U2’s 5th album was recorded with a vast, never-ending space in mind. In Niall Stokes’s book, U2: Into the Heart: The Stories Behind Every Song, bass guitarist Adam Clayton said of the album: “The desert was immensely inspirational to us as a mental image for this record…because you can actually do something with a blank canvas, which is effectively what the desert is.” Whether you’re driving across the desert of the American West or the flat plains of the middle states, The Joshua Tree is sure to keep your eyes wide and hopeful. It’s full of catchy hooks that will get stuck in your head for the duration of your trip. Bono’s introspective lyrics will have you looking in the rear view mirror at yourself and the world around you. Sometimes a trip is the best time for self-reflection, especially when it comes in the form of great music.
7. Greatest Hits, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1993)
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers owned the Americana roots sound in the late 70s and 80s, and this is a compilation that collects their hits from that time period. The band’s sound is the sound of freedom, of howling wind and an endless horizon. 1979’s “Don’t Do Me Like That” is on here, as are the hits from 1989’s Full Moon Fever, “I Won’t Back Down” and “Free Fallin’”. If you were alive when these songs were at the top of the charts, then Greatest Hits will take you back in time. If not, roll down the windows and let the sounds of Petty’s Americana rock take you to another time and place anyway. With music like this, a road trip can feel like time travel.
6. Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon & Garfunkel (1970)
Simon & Garfunkel’s 5th album is a totally different vibe from the rest of the records on this list. It’s best experienced when the sun has dipped under the horizon and it seems like you’re the only truck on the road. Art Garfunkel sings like an angel and late at night, when you’re debating whether to keep on trucking or stop at a hotel, when countless stars twinkle overhead, that’s when this album should be listened to. “The Only Living Boy in New York” makes you feel like you’re the only living driver in the world. The title track will have you thinking of your loved ones back home. It’s a beautiful album, with beautiful melodies and beautiful lyrics, and it is a great way to pass the time in the late night hours of your drive.
5. Thriller, Michael Jackson (1982)
Michael Jackson is not the first artist to come to mind when selecting which records to take with you on the road. Maybe if you’re curating a dance party, but not a road trip. The truth is, Jackson’s disco pop, and his finest album Thriller sounds even better turned way up. Dancing wise, you might be limited, but this album is full of hit after hit, and the lack of dance floor space will have you appreciating Jackson’s voice that much more. From “Thriller” to “Beat it” to “Billy Jean”, Thriller is jam packed with high-energy hits. After a midday coffee stop, pop this disc in and let the King of Pop power you through the next stretch of your trip.
4. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John (1973)
Elton John is another name that one wouldn’t quite expect to land a record on this list, but Goodbye Yellow Brick Road definitely belongs in the top five. For his 7th album, he brought his soft-rock sound to new heights. The big hooks are still there, supported by high-octane piano chords and guitar licks. “Bennie and the Jets” is one of the best songs of any album on this list, and it is the highlight on an album full of them. Music is at its best when it moves you and this is the most emotional album from an emotional artist who’s 17 tracks are guaranteed to move you either emotionally or physically. Sing at the top of your lungs because you are on the road, after all. It may not be yellow or brick, but it is taking you to where you need to be.
3. Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby Stills & Nash (1969)
Folk rockers David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash were the supergroup of the 60s. Though their time together was short, they produced a number of hits and a few classic albums, one of which shares a title with their band name. As “Marrakesh Express” hints at, this album is perhaps best experienced on a cross-country train ride, but a long-haul trip is the next best thing. Pop this cd in on your return trip, when the comforts of home await you.
2. Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan (1965)
Not only is Bob Dylan’s 6th studio album his best, it sounds even better with the endless horizon in front of you. From the rollicking organ licks of “Like a Rolling Stone” to the ominous piano chords of “Ballad of a Thin Man”, Highway 61 is varied enough to keep you pushing through each and every rest stop. Soon you’ll find yourself lost in Dylan’s poetic and sometimes confounding lyrics. This album, named after a highway that cuts through some of America’s most musical landmarks, simply has to sound great on the road.
1. Abbey Road, the Beatles (1969)
The open road is like an empty vessel waiting to be filled with the color that each traveler brings. There is no more colorful album than the Beatles 10th, Abbey Road. The album will transport you to places near and far. It’s impossible to listen to “Come Together” and not feel a certain bond with all the other drivers heading in the same direction. Try listening to Ringo Starr’s children’s tale “Octopus’s Garden” and not feel like a kid again. “Here Comes the Sun” will brighten your day even if a thunderstorm looms in the distance. It’s a beautiful album that unfolds as quickly as your first hour on the road; it’ll be over before you know it. Emotionally, it runs the gamut, and it’s hard not to shed a tear when the last notes of “The End” fade away, but like taking that last exit on your way home, there’s something comfortable about it too.
Listen to all 8 albums in one easy playlist on Spotify: