On The Record: Road Trip!


The right mix for the road is an essential part to any trip. If you have to spend hours on end in a car crossing the byways of America, it’s important to have the right mix of tunes for the journey.

Technology has passed on since the days of the mix tape, but the idea remains the same. Find a bunch of tracks that can help craft the mood as you drive. Technology also means you can make your playlist as long as you want. Think of this as a kind of road-trip music helper.

The First Few Miles

The Village People “Go West.” We’ll set out west on our trip – Seattle, San Francisco, sunny L.A. – and Pet Shop Boys, “West End Girls.” OK, they’re singing about London, but the theme fits.

George Michael, “I Want Your Sex.” A hot jam to get you out of the crowds of the metro area and into the plains. Don’t scare the cows.

Scissor Sisters, “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’.” Well you won’t be able to in the car, but you can at least rock out in your seats.

Ricky Martin, “Shake Your Bon-Bon.” More car dancing. Move those hips, and point south of course.

The Long Haul

Elton John, “Benny and the Jets.” You could also just play all of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, but this will help keep the mood cool during stretches of the Dakotas or Nebraska.

Magnetic Fields, “Andrew in Drag.” Some eccentricity is in order now. Stephin Merritt provides that in spades on this hearty sing-a-long.

B-52s, “Planet Claire.” Speaking of eccentricity… The B-52s make any journey seem shorter.

Queen, “Somebody to Love.” Sure, you could relive Wayne’s World with a certain other song, but — a little secret — this one is better.

Culture Club, “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” As evening transitions into overnight, let Boy George change the mood.


k.d. lang, “Trail of Broken Hearts.” If you try to listen to the radio through the night in middle America, you’ll find mainly country-western. A better choice is our favorite GLBT/animal rights activist.

Sam Smith, “Stay with Me.” Or you could listen to Tom Petty — pretty much the same.

Rufus Wainwright, “Slideshow.” Gorgeous tune from one of modern music’s most gorgeous singers.

Kitchens of Distinction, “Drive That Fast.” KoD have been somewhat lost in time, but the band’s mix of shoegaze and heartfelt lyrics make perfect company for the long loneliness of the night.

Soft Cell, “Tainted Love.” We should be getting close by now. Get hopeful that the next night will be full of some sleazy fun with this classic.


Judas Priest, “Hell Bent for Leather.” Let heavy metal’s gay icon, Rob Halford, serenade you. Sing along at the risk of your vocal chords.

Le Tigre, “On Guard.” Raw feminist punk serves as a perfect cleanser after the Priest.

The Buzzcocks, “What Do I Get?” England’s greatest creators of punk-rock singles will up the anticipation.

The Dicks, “Wheelchair Epidemic.” We’ll end with a double shot of San Francisco, though in the case of the Dicks, it comes via Texas.

Pansy Division, “Breaking the Law.” One more bit of Priest to end the journey, though with a slightly different message this time out. Have fun, don’t do anything stupid, and don’t forget to program the mix for the return journey.

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