Last weekend, I hit the road (having packed my weekend bag ahead of time, thank goodness) and drove. The destination was great and all, but there is something about even a short road trip that I absolutely love all on its own.
The Interstate Highway System is actually formally known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System Of Interstate And Defense Highways. Which is a huge mouthful, right? It's also distinct from the U.S. Numbered Highways, by the way.
Here's how the story goes: Back in 1919, future 34th President of the United States Ike Eisenhower, then a major, was assigned to be an observer of the Army's transcontinental motor convoy from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco, using the (then incomplete) Lincoln Highway (which really only seems to exist now as remnants and other roads).
It didn't go all that well -- the convoy apparently averaged under 6 miles per hour over the course of their trip. They also had 230 accidents. And 21 men were injured badly enough along the way that they weren't able to complete the trip.
Can you even imagine? How many times do you think the folks in charge threatened to turn the convoy right back around?
Fast forward to World War II. Ike is now Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe. (I just feel like "Supreme Commander" is a title that maybe we should deploy with caution. It's such a super villain title.) He's in Germany and they've got this Reichsautobahn.
(This, by the way, was an idea Hitler totally stole from the previous government, the Weimar Republic, which is what replaced the imperial government after World War I. The Nazi party actually opposed the road system when it was first introduced and blocked construction -- until they rose to power.)
Given his experiences on Lincoln's Highway, Ike developed an appreciation for the early autobahn system.
Ike did not invent the Interstate Highway System here in the U.S. -- but he did champion the cause, which had been floating around in various committees since the 1930s, and sign the bill authorizing the system in 1956.
And the landscape of the U.S. -- for good or ill -- was totally changed.
I kind of feel like we should all go watch Disney's "Cars" after this. Pay a little homage to the Mother Road, right?
ANYWAY. Without the Interstate Highway System, road tripping would be a very different activity. And road tripping would also be different without good music.
So what makes good driving music?
There's tempo, of course. A ballad might be suited to a lazy Sunday morning tour of the winding country and county (or at least suburban) backroads but it's not going to fly down the interstate highway when you're surrounded by semi trucks and impatient speed demons.
I like uptempo music that keeps me motivated and keeps me feeling energetic so that I remain alert even when I've been in the car so long I really, really need to find a rest area. Nothing makes a trip drag out longer than slow, sleepy music.
In addition to tempo, I want something that keeps me perky, that doesn't ruin the good-time excitement of going from one place to another.
Also, I have to be able to sing along.
Given those three requirements, here are ten of the songs that got me through a three-hour drive most recently -- in nothing resembling playlist order:
1. David Guetta & Chris Willis Featuring Fergie & LMFAO -- Gettin Over You
I only listen to this in the car. It's the kind of made-for-radio electronica that I don't usually like. But it's so good for the long straight-aways.
2. Britney Spears -- Toxic
As long as I'm admitting embarrassing music stuff, here you go. I love this freaking song. Though I still have no idea why she's a flight attendant.
3. Beyonce -- Run The World (Girls)
Stop judging me.
Pop music is popular. I am not immune to this nor do I want to be. (OK, maybe I'm a little defensive but I've been mocked a whole lot.)
4. Johnny Cash -- Folsom Prison Blues
Yeah, this is switching gears but this song EATS UP THE MILES.
Also of note -- this song is "based" on "Crescent City Blues," sung by Beverly Mahr. I use the quotes because while the tempo has been sped up, the lyrics are only loosely rewritten.
5. Thomas Dolby -- She Blinded Me With Science
This is especially good for after a quick pit stop for a coke and a snack. It gets you moving again without rushing you.
Also, the original video doesn't seem to exist on YouTube so have this live video instead.
6. Rage Against The Machine -- Renegades Of Funk
Speaking of music that will get you where you're going.
Check out Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force doing the original version, too. It's epic.
7. Malvina Reynolds -- Little Boxes
This starts out slow and is a little bit mellow for driving but I can't bring myself to skip it. It's a perfect and easy sing-along song. And, yeah, they used it for the theme song to that show "Weeds."
8. Noisuf-X -- Dance Of The Knights
This makes me feel like a stompy goth sugar plum fairy. So, you know, I just go with it.
9. Depeche Mode -- Never Let Me Down Again
I got to see them do this song live. It was fantastic. And, obviously, the whole driving theme works.
10. Peder Featuring Ane Trolle -- White Lillies
This is a just-getting-to-your-destination song. You've gotten off the highway and you can't do 70 mph anymore. It's time to chill.
And what a mixed-up trip, genre-ly speaking, it's been. Now I want to know your favorite songs for those long summer drives! Tell me -- and link videos -- in the comments.
Welcome to your weekend road trip! (And, as always, send me your weekend pitches: Marianne@xoJane.com.)