Got the car, got the AM radio on

I often find driving stressful, because either I’m running late or I’m lost or the driving conditions are bad. Sometimes I feel like a coked-out Ray Liotta, running from the helicopters with “Monkey Man” and “Jump Into The Fire” (what I didn’t know until this day is that that’s Harry Nilsson) playing. Other times, when I’m in a better mood I imagine I’m Bruce Willis singing along with “Flowers on the Wall” (and hitting that big bass note in “kangaroo”).

Unlike many of you hip young gunslingers, I just listen to reg’lar radio in my car, no Sirius or Spotify. I like when Maggie Strickland of WLGZ says, after “I Wish” fades out, “I wish I was still on vacation” or whatever.

What’s your favorite scene from a movie that involves music and driving? Bonus points if the music is on the radio in the scene, though I’m not sure that was the case with Goodfellas.

Also too: what’s your favorite song that mentions listening to the radio in the car?

Update. And what’s your favorite experience of listening to the radio in the car? I guess mine are one day hearing “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” (with that great intro) while I was stuck in traffic near the Verrazano Narrows bridge and another day hearing a Warren Zevon block (“Carmelita”, “Poor Pitiful Me”, and I forget what else) while heading out for vacation on I-90 near Rochester.

131 replies
  1. 1
    Amir Khalid says:

    Bruce: Promised Land, Darlington County

  2. 2
    MattF says:

    True story:

    I was driving to work one Monday morning in the pre-ipod days and chanced on a local radio station I hadn’t heard before– the dj sounded intelligent and he played Tom Paxton’s ‘Monday Morning in Paradise,’ a good and rather sweet song. But the next day, when I tried to find the show, it was gone. Later I read a news article about how a local dj had died shortly after the end of his morning show. Kinda spooky.

  3. 3
    Marcelo says:

    In movies? Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats Wayne’s World‘s Bohemian Rhapsody singalong:

  4. 4
    Botsplainer says:

    Love Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers Edgar Winter Frankenstein for commuting. Also enjoy Hendrix doing Crosstown Traffic and anything with a hard, driving beat.

  5. 5
    LAllen says:

    Anytime Blackfoot cranks up “train, Train” . Bringing my young’un and her friend home from a high school band competition; Gadsden , AL to just north of Montgomery, late at night on I65, Skynerd tape playing.

  6. 6
    bjacques says:

    The beginning of “The Hidden” when the guy being chased by the cops has Concrete Blonde’s “It’ll Chew You Up And Spit You Out [aka “Still In Hollywood”] on the radio (or on a tape).

    I don’t drive much, but rented a car in Bordeaux a couple of months ago and found a great station: FIP Radio. Beware of driving late at night, because sometimes they play stuff that will put you to sleep.

  7. 7
    andrew long says:

    Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers

  8. 8
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Almost driving – Kit and Holly dancing in the headlights to Nat King Cole singing “A Blossom Fell” in Badlands.

  9. 9
    Rich (In Name Only) in Reno says:

    For me it would have to be one evening in the late ’80s while driving home through Berkeley CA with my now ex-wife when KPFA played Cheb Khaled’s “Chebba” (the Safy Boutella arrangement from “Kutche.”) It changed my musical tastes forever.

  10. 10
    CT Voter says:

    Wait. You don’t listen to CMF?

  11. 11
    andrew long says:

    @andrew long: oh well I guess that’s understood from your title. nevermind. /emilylitella voice

  12. 12
    raven says:

    San Francisco-Tucson-Cochise’s Stronghold-Almagordo-Champaign-Urbana in a 63 Chevy Truck with a rock crusher 4 on the floor. Three of us and a dog with nothing but an am radio, no money or herb. We were so broke we found a bag of Albondigas strung in a tree at a campground and we ate em.

  13. 13
    Big Country says:

    My favorite is a song specifically about driving and listening to the radio while driving. Sounds like heaven….
    Son Volt – Windfall

    Also, favorite movie scene is Big Lebowski, ‘Looking Out My Back Door’ after his visit with the ‘thorough’ doctor!

  14. 14
    raven says:

    Listen to the radio, Nanci

    I am leaving Mississippi in the evening rain
    These Delta towns wear satin gowns
    In a high beamed frame

    Loretta Lynn guides my hands through the radio
    Where would I be in times like these
    Without the songs Loretta wrote?

    ‘Cause when you can’t find a friend
    You’ve still got the radio
    When you can’t find a friend
    You’ve still got the radio

    The radio
    Listen to the radio
    The radio
    Listen to the radio

    I left a handsome, two stepped
    Good ole boy in Tennessee
    Now, he’s sittin’ on the sofa, he’s lookin’ for his supper
    Wonderin’, “What’s become of me?”

    I’ve got a double-o-eighteen Martin guitar in the
    Back seat of the car
    Hey, I’m leaving Mississippi
    With the radio on

    ‘Cause when you can’t find a friend
    You’ve still got the radio
    When you can’t find a friend
    You’ve still got the radio

    The radio
    Listen to the radio
    The radio
    Listen to the radio

    It’s the radio
    Listen to the radio
    The radio

    There’s a moon across the border
    In the Louisiana sky
    I smell the Pontchartrain, I hear Silver Wings
    And then, away Merle Haggard had to fly

    That good ole boy will find a Band of Gold on the stereo
    Hey, then my Mama’s gonna call and say
    Where’s she gone?
    He’ll say, “Down the road with the radio on”

    When you can’t find a friend
    You’ve still got the radio
    And when you can’t find a friend
    You’ve still got the radio

    The radio

  15. 15
    Bob In Portland says:

    For real driving maybe The Replacements’ “Alex Chilton” driving the 280 out of downtown San Francisco before the rush hour traffic. I also had a nice CD mix that included the Au Pairs’ “We’re So Cool”, I think the track is called. It’s the one that goes “You must admit when you think about it that you’re mine.” In the screenplay I wrote there’s a scene of a rickety old school bus moving three punk bands on a little tour of California, and on I-80 towards Sacramento Guided By Voices’ “Motor Away” plays.

  16. 16
    shelley says:

    And the classic opening to every Soprano’s episode.

  17. 17
    Anonymous At Work says:

    “Radar Love” by Golden Earring, the world’s greatest Dutch 2-hit wonder.
    Get it going on a classic rock station while driving at night.

  18. 18
    Bob In Portland says:

    “Highway To Hell” and Eddie Money’s “Shakin'” (the single version) are both pretty good driving songs, as well as Dyke and the Blazers’ cover of “It’s Your Thing.” And the Dwight Twilley Band’s “I’m On Fire”.

  19. 19
    EthylEster says:

    DougJ wrote:….. “Jump Into The Fire” (what I didn’t know until this day is that that’s Harry Nilsson) playing.

    Possibly the most astonishing thing you have ever written…give all the music you are familiar with.

  20. 20
    DougJ says:

    Also too, the scene in The Wire where they drive to Philly and start listening to a totebagger station.

    And that Son Volt song about listening to the car radio is good too.

  21. 21
    DougJ says:


    For some reason, I don’t know much about Harry Nilsson. 70s singer songwriters are a weak spot with me.

  22. 22
    Bob In Portland says:

    @Rich (In Name Only) in Reno: Fela’s “Sorrow, Tears and Blood.”

  23. 23
    ASV says:

    One time, the spring I was 13, my family went to Phoenix to visit my grandparents, who’d just started wintering down there. In the pool at their retirement village, I’d lost my footing and kicked the side of pool trying to regain it. I cracked the nail on my big toe and bled a lot, and thought I’d broken it. My grandpa was an orthopedic surgeon and said it was fine, so it was fine. But the next day he and my parents drove up to maybe Laughlin or somewhere up there to go to the casino, while my grandma took my sister and I on a day trip to Nogales. Just because, I guess; I can’t remember why anyone thought this was a good or necessary idea.

    At any rate, this is a three-hour drive and it’s 1993, so the only remotely modern conveniences we have in the car are a cassette deck-radio and a Gameboy. When the car starts, Peggy Lee comes on, and we hit the road. And Peggy Lee stays on. Forty-five or so minutes later, there’s “Fever” again, then there’s “Big Spender” again. By the time we hit Tuscon, there they are again. Someplace in the wilderness between there and the border, my grandma declares in all seriousness, “Boy, this station sure plays a lot of Peggy Lee.”

    Of course, once we get to Nogales, I spend the whole afternoon walking around on a semi-broken toe.

  24. 24
    Downpuppy says:

    1993, Jackson, Wyoming, traffic not moving, first hearing Lucinda Williams. The song was The Night’s Too Long

    1999, on the way to work, “I Drink” , Mary Gauthier. Wife & I sang along.

    Most movie driving scenes are about finding peace, so to go the other way, the Show Tunes sequence from The Sure Thing

  25. 25
    Bob In Portland says:

    Also, “On The Way Out” by Freedy Johnston, one of the two best shoplifting songs I know of. The other great shoplifting song is, of course, “Shoplifters of the World Unite” but if I’m driving I’d rather “What Difference Does It Make?”

  26. 26
    Butch says:

    Driving to work one morning near Oconto, Wisconsin, when Neil Young’s Sugar Mountain came on the radio…I pulled over into a county park and watched the sun come up over Lake Michigan while I listened to the song.

  27. 27
    Bob In Portland says:

    Also, who does “Slack Motherfucker”? I think Superchunk. That’s one everyone can sing along with. “I’m working…but I’m not working for you…SLACK MOTHERFUCKER!”

  28. 28
    Denali says:

    Doug J

    Good to hear from you!

    Canada. Joni Michell.

  29. 29
    Bob In Portland says:

    Sugar’s “Getting Better.”

  30. 30
    raven says:

    Guitar Town, Earle

    Hey pretty baby are you ready for me
    It’s your good rockin’ daddy down from Tennessee
    I’m just out of Austin bound for San Antone
    With the radio blastin‘ and the bird dog on
    There’s a speed trap up ahead in Selma Town
    But no local yokel gonna shut me down
    ‘Cause me and my boys got this rig unwound
    And we’ve come a thousand miles from a Guitar Town

  31. 31
    chrismealy says:

    Driving from Berlin to Lisbon in “Lisbon Story.”

  32. 32
    Jacel says:

    The singalong of “Bye Bye Blackbird” in “Melvin and Howard.

  33. 33
    Bob In Portland says:

    @Denali: On my first drive across the US back in 1974 there was a steady rotation of Mitchell’s “Help Me,” Steely Dan’s “Ricky Don’t Lose That Number,” whatshisface’s “Come Monday” and the Hues Corporation’s “Rock The Boat.” I remember driving across Florida during love bug mating season with “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” having to stop every half hour to scrape the massacre off my windshield.

  34. 34
    CaseyL says:

    OK, this isn’t music-while-driving, but BOC’s Don’t Fear the Reaper as theme music during the opening scenes of “The Stand” absolutely sent shivers down my spine. The intro riff alone is hair-raising.

    While driving: a road trip to Ocean Shores, Temptation Within’s The Heart of Everything playing. Gorgeous music to drive by. Didn’t really pay attention to the words at that time, just the sound.

    ETA: The Carmina Burana is one of my favorite pieces of music, period; unfortunately, it’s been used so much in movies and TV it’s been reduced to an audio cliche. I still love listening to it, anywhere and any time.

  35. 35
    Redshift says:

    Absolute best car radio anecdote is when I got in the car to run errands the day before my wedding, and “I Wanna Be Sedated” came on the radio.

  36. 36
  37. 37
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    Favorite radio moment, although not in the car, was from WHFS when they were still in Bethesda. They segued from Firesign Theater to the Grateful Dead thusly …

    “And across it all, they drove one shining steel rail …”
    “Driving that train, high on cocaine …”

  38. 38
    raven says:

    She drove west from Salt Lake City to the California coastline
    She hit the San Diego Freeway doing sixty miles an hour
    She had a husband on her bumper, she had five restless children
    She was singing sweet as a mockingbird in that Ford Econoline

    She’s the salt of the earth
    Straight from the bosom of the Mormon Church
    With a voice like wine
    Cruising along in that Ford Econoline

    Nanci Griffith – Ford Econoline

  39. 39
    NotMax says:

    What’s your favorite scene from a movie that involves music and driving?

    Bar none, Wages of Fear, driving to Strauss’ Blue Danube.

    Powerful stuff.

    And what’s your favorite experience of listening to the radio in the car?

    Not a favorite, but when worked as a movie theater usher would get off work after midnight, and for over three weeks running, the same song would be on the radio each night when I started up the car to head home – Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in the Sky.

    Favorite would be hearing the first strains of Bahn Frei signaling that Jean Shepherd was beginning his show

  40. 40

    @DougJ: Speaking of Harry Nilsson, how could you not know this: ?

  41. 41
    Cervantes says:


    I pulled over into a county park and watched the sun come up over Lake Michigan while I listened to the song.

    Speaking of which, there’s “Lake Shore Drive” (the song).

    Nothing to do with a movie, though, as far as I know, so it may not meet the assigned criteria.

  42. 42
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    As for movies, there’s the obvious.

    Man, come on. I had a rough night and I hate the fuckin’ Eagles, man.

  43. 43
    Delk says:

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “American Girl” in The Silence of the Lambs. yow

  44. 44
    NotMax says:

    And what’s your favorite experience of listening to the radio in the car?

    Evreyone with an SF bent was anticipating the premiere of the original Battlestar Galactica series (I know, I know, it turned out to be total crapola).

    Circumstances being what they were, had to drive from far northeastern PA to Reading the same night of the premiere, but realized that was close enough to Philly for most of the route to pick up the audio from channel 6 there on the extreme low end of the FM dial.

    So listened to the 2-hour premiere on the radio. It played decently well as a radio drama.

    What a disappointment when I viewed the following week’s episode on television.

  45. 45
    raven says:

    Runnin’ Down A Dream – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

    It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down
    I had the radio on, I was drivin’
    Trees flew by, me and Del were singin’ little Runaway
    I was flyin’

    Mike Campbell slays it.

  46. 46
    NotMax says:

    @Phil Perspective

    Nicely done coupling of scenes from Breakfast on Pluto with Nilsson’s classic.

  47. 47
    The Pale Scot says:

    Was driving upstate from LBI (NJ) on a Sunday in the late 70’s, I put on WBGO, the great jazz station out of Newark, they were running their Afro-Pop program. Listened to a collection of Nigerian club music, pronounced “mucasa” and “murimbe”, it was fucking fantastic, layers of rhythm and beats with multiples of percussion and bass lines. With no intertubes and since I was driving, I have never figured out exactly what I was listening to.

    It wasn’t Highlife, I knew that, the search did lead me to Fela Kuti and Mutabaruka

  48. 48
    raven says:

    What’s your road, man? — holyboy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road,
    any road. It’s an anywhere road for anybody anyhow

  49. 49
    Paul in KY says:

    Paramore ‘Driving Fast in My Car’ is a good tune that I think fits your genre. Wall of Voodoo ‘Mexican Radio’ is a classic.

  50. 50
    Paul in KY says:

    @Bob In Portland: They did ‘Alex Chilton’ in their set at Forecastle. Billy Joe Armstrong sat in with them. Great set!

  51. 51
    cleek says:

    one two three four five six
    Roadrunner, roadrunner
    Going faster miles an hour
    Gonna drive past the Stop ‘n’ Shop
    With the radio on

    I’m in love with Massachusetts
    And the neon when it’s cold outside
    And the highway when it’s late at night
    Got the radio on
    I’m like the roadrunner

    The Modern Lovers – Roadrunner

  52. 52
  53. 53
    NotMax says:

    Buried in a box somewhere are a number of wire recordings (wire recordings!) I made of radio music during the 1950s.

    No longer have a machine capable of playing them, however.

  54. 54
    Origuy says:

    Last year we drove across the country. We switched on the driving … every half mile … We had one cassette tape to listen to on the entire trip … I don’t remember what it was.

    — Steven Wright

  55. 55
    Paul in KY says:

    Another good one is ‘Runnin Down a Dream’ by Tom Petty & Heartbreakers.

  56. 56
    low-tech cyclist says:

    And what’s your favorite experience of listening to the radio in the car?

    Back in about 1978, I was in my car listening to WLMD-AM in the DC area while waiting for a friend, when this weird but irresistible song about Montana and dental floss and pygmy ponies comes on the radio. (We miss you, Frank!)

  57. 57
    Amir Khalid says:

    Wow. Over 50 comments and no one has thought to mention Chuck Berry’s No Particular Place To Go ? It’s all about just driving and listening to the radio.

  58. 58
    MuckJagger says:

    Bruce Willis in “12 Monkeys” in what can only be described as pure rapture at hearing “Blueberry Hill.”

    Nothing else is even a close second.

  59. 59
    Paul in KY says:

    @raven: Beat me to it! Saw them twice last year. Mike Campbell is fucking GREAT!

  60. 60
    cleek says:

    I was driving home early Sunday morning through Bakersfield
    Listening to gospel music on the colored radio station
    And the preacher said, “You know you always have the Lord by your side”
    And I was so pleased to be informed of this that I ran
    Twenty red lights in his honor
    Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord

    Stones, “Far Away Eyes”

  61. 61
    DanF says:

    I was driving home early Sunday morning through Bakersfield
    Listening to gospel music on the colored radio station
    And the preacher said, “You know you always have the
    Lord by your side”
    And I was so pleased to be informed of this that I ran
    Twenty red lights in his honor

    Thank you Jesus, Thank you Lord.

  62. 62
    raven says:

    @Paul in KY: It’s probably been 10 years. That video I posted is from the DVD of the same name. If you don’t have it it’s a must. The documentary is by Bogdonavich and then the Anniversary show in Gainesville. Even what’s her face from Fleetwood mac couldn’t ruin it.

  63. 63
    KXB says:

    Well, it’s tough to top the examples you mentioned, but I’d add:

    The Simpsons singing Gilbert & Sullivan

    Homer pretending to drive, while singing “Radar Love”

    Michael Bolton rapping in his car in Office Space

    And while I find his personality disgusting, I do turn up the volume on Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” when it comes on the radio. Some older rap songs that get the same treatement would be Ice Cube’s “Today was a Good Day” and Tupac’s “California Love”

  64. 64
    Bob In Portland says:

    @Amir Khalid: The Chuck Berry one where he’s drag-racing with New Jersey State Troopers. It inspired me in my youth.

    Bye bye, New Jersey, I’m headin’ home. I liked the Blues Project’s version of it too.

  65. 65
    kd bart says:

    Opening to Dazed & Confused. Pickford’s GTO cruising the high school parking lot to Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion”.

    End of Dazed & Confused. Cruising down the highway in Wooderson’s car to Foghat’s “Slow Ride”.

  66. 66
    Amir Khalid says:

    There’s a scene in Planes Trains and Automobiles where John Candy get’s distracted listening to Ray Charles while driving, as Steve Martin sleeps in the front seat. Alas, I don’t remember the title of the song.

  67. 67
  68. 68
    Elizabelle says:


    From when “The Girl with the Faraway Eyes” was a great album track, and not too many Republican Christianista women pols.

  69. 69
    raven says:

    La Mission (Crusin’ Low & Slow)

    Stylistics and Marvin Gaye

  70. 70
    artem1s says:


    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “American Girl” in The Silence of the Lambs. yow

    I love that scene too. Jonathon Demme has 15 seconds to introduce Brooke Smith’s character and get the audience to empathize with her. It is one of my favorite character reveals in film. ranks right up there with Carol Reeds’ reveal of Orson Wells in The Third Man.

  71. 71
  72. 72
    artem1s says:

    not a great film, but a fun music selection in First Contact

    On April 5, 2063, Cochrane made Earth’s first warp flight, playing Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” during blast-off.

  73. 73
    dan says:

    This was a great one for me when I drove through the night to “see my baby” or just get home:

    Your eyes get itchy in the wee wee hours sun’s just a red ball risin’ over them refinery towers
    Radio’s jammed up with gospel stations lost souls callin’ long distance salvation
    Hey mr. deejay woncha hear my last prayer hey ho rock ‘n roll deliver me from nowhere

  74. 74
    shortstop says:

    Always, ever and completely “Roadrunner.” The perfection of that song never ebbs for me. I’m in love with AM sound, and I’ll be out all night.

    ETA: I have at least seven versions of that song in my collection. Is that obsessive? Is it crazier than Jonathan? But not in as good a way?

  75. 75
    Felonius Monk says:

    There’s “Thank God for the Radio” and “Listen to the Radio” on my list.

  76. 76
    catbirdman says:

    I loved driving while Joe Frank was doing his surreal Work in Progress shows on LA public radio during the 80s. Now they can be streamed online for a subscription fee. I may do that one day. What a voice.

  77. 77
    shortstop says:

    Oh, you also asked for radio-listening memories. I remember riding around as a teeny tiny girl with my dad, both of us loudly singing along to “Mrs. Robinson.” Not the naughty parts, of course.

    Stuck in the mother of all traffic jams outside Cologne, I sang “Drops of Jupiter” out the window to a huge, scary-looking truck driver, who sang back in German.

    And on a long road trip to New Orleans, I recall a particularly good harmonization of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” with a bunch of friends.

  78. 78
    Felonius Monk says:

    @raven: Also like to ride “Highway 49” with The WOLF.

  79. 79
    Origuy says:

    Segueing to “songs about music on the car radio”: Meat Loaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”.

    Baby don’cha hear my heart
    You got it drowning out the radio
    I’ve been waiting so long
    For you to come along and have some fun
    And I gotta let you know
    No you’re never gonna regret it
    So open up your eyes, I got a big surprise
    It’ll feel all right
    Well I wanna make you motor run

  80. 80
    MomSense says:

    Driving home on a winding, country road listening to Godless with the kids.

  81. 81
    jake the antisoshul soshulist says:

    Movie scene with a car radio, “The Last Picture Show” with Why Don’t You Love Me (Like You Used To Do) playing.

    Best radio reference in a song Van Morrison “Domino” “I just wanna hear some rhythm and blues on the radio.”

    But then, I’m an old.

  82. 82
    BobS says:

    Radio Girl by John Hiatt

  83. 83
    mack says:

    Tom Cruise as “Jerry Maguire”, trying to find a song on the radio he could sing too. Makes me laugh every time. Admit it, you’ve done that.

  84. 84
    JPS says:

    On Christmas morning heading north towards Duluth on a newly rebuilt state highway: Conditions were perfect, it had snowed the previous day so everything was white, but now it was sunny and the road was clear and dry. No traffic, in 50 miles I saw about five vehicles southbound and none going my direction. I was “flying low and hitting only the tops of the hills”, and heavy Bach organ music was on the radio (loud). What a rush!

  85. 85
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    Movies: Melissa Etheridge’s “You Can Sleep While I Drive” in Where the Day Takes You.

  86. 86
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    Most of Repo Man.

  87. 87
    Bloix says:

    Papa was a Rolling Stone – what a great car song that was.

  88. 88
    Ben Cisco says:

    We took a trip out to one of those timeshare deals someplace in Arkansas when I was a kid. You were at the mercy of the radio in those days.

    Must’ve heard Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger” about a hundred times.

    On the way there alone.

  89. 89
    Simon Taverner says:

    Movie scene: Highlander, when the Kurgan goes on a deadly night joyride through NYC while singing along to “New York, New York”.


  90. 90
    hitchhiker says:

    1977: Driving alone through Upper Michigan on my way back to school in Houghton. No radio stations, two-lane highway with narrow shoulders & trees crowding up against the pavement. I had a cassette of that best of Dylan album where his head in blue silhouette, and that was it to sustain me for many hours.

    It was plenty. Like a Rolling Stone, Mr Tambourine Man . . . I still know all the words, or at least i know the ones he sang in that version.

    Also, in about 1994, driving through the burbs with my young daughters in the minivan when some DJ played If I Fell, and I automatically sang the harmony. Kids looked at me with such awe, and then one of them said, “What IS this?”

  91. 91
    drc says:

    Driving through Chicago WXRT The Ramones “I Wanna Be Sedated” followed by Prince “I Wanna Be Your Lover”

  92. 92
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @hitchhiker: I saw a car with a Michigan Tech sticker Just this morning in Madison. I am only familiar with Houghton as a jumping off spot for Isle Royale. And the creepy copper mine tour – with the fake miner jammed up in a corner, nightmares for days after that back when I was eight or nine.

  93. 93
    DougJ says:

    @Ben Cisco:

    Ha ha! That was everywhere for a while.

  94. 94
    Delk says:

    “American Woman” Kevin Spacey in American Beauty going to Mr Smiley.

  95. 95
    bruceJ says:

    Best experience driving in a car…my room-mate and I were driving across town to see “Reds” on a real 35MM theatre, normally a long annoying process of about 15 stoplights.

    “American Pie” came on the radio, was cranked and we hit 15 green lights in a row…

    Runner up was blasting Toots and the Maytals version of “Country roads” in traffic going through Denver at rush hour. We were on vacation and having a good time.

    Favorite song mentioning a car radio? Of course it’s “Paradise by the dash board light.”

    Song most likely to get me a speeding ticket? “Radar Love” or “Born to Run.”

  96. 96
    superfly says:

    Not sure it was the greatest experience, but one I still remember, I was driving in Los Angeles, several years before I lived there, so it was all new to me, NWA was playing (not on the radio, obviously) and the line was “…you’re thinking lobster, I’m thinking Burger King…” at which point, on one side of the road was a Red Lobster, and on the other was a Burger King.

    Thought that was a bit crazy

  97. 97
    EconWatcher says:

    DougJ, I spent this summer moving to another continent, and so very belatedly I did some searches and found out, to my horror, why I wasn’t seeing any political blogging from you.

    Let me just say that you were a true master, and your handiwork–including your inspired trolling–are missed. However, congrats on the apparent promotion, which was no doubt very well deserved.

  98. 98
    Denali says:

    Then there is Kate Campbell ‘s Galaxie 500

    We got her white from the factory
    But daddy had her painted baby blue
    She had a red vinyl interior
    That burned my legs on summer afternoons
    She took us down to Panama City
    And we got sand all in the seats
    And the year we sent out west
    She made it up Pike’s Peak

    I could go anywhere in that automobile
    My dreams came true behind the wheel
    No road was too long, no mountain too steep
    For me and my Galaxie 500.

    Mama said kids I’ll be right back
    And left us in the K-Mart parking lot
    On the radio we heard the news
    In Memphis Dr. King had just been shot
    So late that night I sat alone
    Feet propped up on the big dashboard
    And I cried myself to sleep again
    Like every time before

    When I came home from school one day
    In the driveway sat a Datsun with two doors
    And I never told a single soul
    How much I missed that Ford

    No road was too long no valley too deep
    For me and my Galaxie 500

  99. 99
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @superfly: I once heard the Saturday in the Park by Chicago playing on a radio in Grant Park, on a Saturday – I think it was the Fourth of July.

  100. 100
    What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us? says:

    A few movie scenes that spring to mind:

    Since you mentioned Warren Zevon, I discovered “Lawyers Guns and Money” while watching the movie Grand Canyon – there’s a scene where Kevin Klein is driving and it comes on the radio – it was a lot harder to track down a song back then by a few lyrics.

    Also, just about the entirety of “Trains, Planes, and Automobiles” qualifies, but especially the Ray Charles “Mess Around” scene and the one thereafter where they’re barreling down the highway in the burned out car singing “Blue Moon of Kentucky” to the radio.

    Also, they’re not listening to the radio but the scene with Tim Robbins and his wife singing show tunes with Daphne Zuniga and John Cusack in the back seat, from “The Sure Thing” is pretty hilarious.

  101. 101

    Am I the only one that’s ever jumped in a car with a friend, put The Barenaked Ladies “Who Needs Sleep?” on repeat and road tripped non stop to Colorado from Wisconsin? (obvs we stopped for gas and potty breaks)

  102. 102
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Helmut Monotreme: Probably.

  103. 103
    GregL190 says:

    @Amir Khalid: True dat, Amir. Anything from “Darkness” at top volume and I am just begging for a speeding ticket.

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  105. 105
    craigie says:

    Vanishing Point

    It’s got everything in it, but especially Mississippi Queen by Mountain.

    Man, did I just date myself.

  106. 106
    KSE says:

    Long, long solo road trip – about halfway across the US, all the way from the heart of the midwest to North Carolina. Non-stop. By the time I made it to the Appalachians, it was starting to feel like some kind of shamanic vision quest – sleep deprivation was kicking in, but anticipation and caffeine had me feeling almost-too-awake. The sun was rising, I had Google Music on shuffle play and “Blood on the Bluegrass” by Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers came on just as I crossed the border into Kentucky. It was almost too perfect.

  107. 107
    Chat Noir says:

    @Delk: I love that scene. Kevin Spacey is a great actor and singer.

    Also, Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis in Thelma & Louise singing “the Way You Do the Things You Do” while fleeing from the cops.

  108. 108
  109. 109
    Bystander says:

    Anouilh Aimee and Jean Louis Trintignant in “A Man and a Woman.” All that driving in the fog between Paris and Deauville to the music of Francis Lai. I still want that shearling JLT wears.

  110. 110
    Bystander says:

    How did this idiotic second guessing auto correct thing change Anouk to Anouilh?

  111. 111
    Chet says:

    Junior Walker and the Allstars’ “Shotgun” in James Caan’s car during the opening credits of Misery.

    Of course, nearly all the music in American Graffiti appears diegetically in the various characters’ cars.

  112. 112
    Wally Ballou says:

    When I was a kid, my parents had several cassette tapes they’d play on long car trips, among them Harry Chapin’s Greatest Stories Live. I have vivid memories of my mom lunging to hit the fast-forward whenever “30,000 Pounds of Bananas” played and they got to the “Harry, it sucks” part.

  113. 113
    celiadexter says:

    1985 or so, on I-75 in southwest Detroit where the highway is elevated way above all the factories and multicolored smokestacks, sun going down, listening to public radio and a song came on in Spanish, I didn’t understand a word of it but it made me want to dance and step on the gas…. had to call the radio station when I got home to find out what it was. Songorocosongo by Hector Lavoe. At the time I’d never heard of him (that’s what comes from living in Detroit) but that changed fast. Wow.

  114. 114
    john fremont says:

    In the movie Wild at Heart, Nicholas Cage and Laura Dern driving through the night with an instrumental version of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game playing in the background . The song climbed the MRS playlist after that movie.

    My own memories,

    Dwight Yoakam’s Thousand Miles from Nowhere driving westbound on I-8 through AZ to San Diego.

    Returning one night to 29 Palms during my service in the Marines back in the 1980’s hearing Los Lobos’ Shakin, Shakin, Shakes come on the radio during a windstorm near Joshua Tree. “… The wind comes through the valley … and Lord it makes me tremble”

  115. 115
    dedc79 says:

    @artem1s: Magic Carpet Ride (a remix version) is also used pretty effectively in the Vegas scene of the movie Go.

    @kd bart: I feel like the whole movie (and not just those first and last scenes) involve listening to songs while driving. And that was a good thing.

  116. 116
    Bob Munck says:

    Driving along the NY State Thruway when the radio played an uninterrupted set of Country Joe, The Dead, Janis, The Airplane, Creedence, and BST. They then did an ad for a music festival I hadn’t heard about, with those performers and an astonishing additional list. It was the next exit! I turned off, parked as close as I could — maybe three miles away — and walked in. We were half a million strong.

    Btw, I saw The Dead, Janis, and Big Brother again just a couple of days later at Fillmore West.

  117. 117
    Kay Eye says:

    Driving through Tennessee, Knoxville to Memphis, during Death Week. I heard every song Elvis ever recorded. Memphis was outstanding. Descriptions of the candlelight vigils at Graceland between songs.

  118. 118
    Graham says:

    Van Morrison obviously loved to listen to the radio as many songs as he has talking about it…Elvis Costello too.

    The radio was important when I was coming up. Down here in Macon and all over the south folks listened to WLAC in Nashville. Blues and R&B, all night long…

    Darkness On the Edge of Town (the album) is a great one to listen to in the car. Thunder Road is also a great one….Bruce has lots of fine radio/riding songs.

    Jessica by the Allmans is also a good road trip song.

  119. 119
    DougJ says:


    Thanks a lot! Which continent are you on now?

  120. 120
    Graham says:

    As for movies, he’s not driving, but the scene in Reservoir Dogs where Stuck In The Middle is playing on the radio…holy shit – what a scene. Mr Blonde, blood, ears…and Stuck In The Middle.


  121. 121
    rea says:

    Driving through rural Mississippi in the mid-80s, listening to local radio. “Pride (In the Name of Love)” by U2 in heavy rotation. Ah, if only more people paid attention to lyrics!

  122. 122
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    Dessa, Dutch. A little more modern than most of what’s here.

  123. 123
    Turner Hedenkoff says:

    Sitting at an intersection in Cheyenne in late 1997, watching the traffic lights blowing sideways ahead of an oncoming afternoon blizzard while the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind” comes on KTCL out of Fort Collins. Perfect song, perfect moment.

  124. 124
    blogbytom says:

    I was once driving through Nebraska in what seemed like the middle of the night, but it was probably closer to 9 PM or so and the winter was just playing a trick on me. It was pitch black all around, which you can say about a good deal of the Midwest, the Mountain West, the West in general, but in this particular case, it was like you were under blankets.

    I pretty much always listen to the radio on the road. I’m in sales, I travel a lot, and even though I’m only 30, something about hearing what the local population is listening to makes me feel a little bit less lonely in hotel after hotel after hotel.

    So, driving through Nebraska, listening to pop country, driving along that stretch of highway every single time — and I mean it, every goshdarn time — I drove past an 18-wheeler, God flipped the frequency to a station of worship for me, presumably, to absorb, and let me hear The Word for 30 seconds or so until I’d finished my pass.

    I understand, of course, that it was just radio waves bouncing around off the big conductive trailer, but it was spooky, and it was one of the more special moments I’ve had on the highways in this great country.

  125. 125
    Corey X It says:

    Reverend Ike preaching about a Red GTO with a black vinyl top while driving in a VW camper during a frog stangling thunderstorm between Monterrey and Saltillo.

  126. 126
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:


    something about hearing what the local population is listening to makes me feel a little bit less lonely in hotel after hotel after hotel.

    I can’t do that. If I am not near a good sized city or in range of a college radio station, I need to have my own music.

  127. 127
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    The Cowsills “Indian Lake” always brings back happy memories of driving through rural Ohio in the summer.

    No love for the Who? “Magic Bus” “Going Mobile”


  128. 128
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: My Wife

    Gonna buy a fast car, put on my lead boots, and take a long, long drive
    I may end up spendin’ all my money,
    But I’ll still be alive!

  129. 129
    kd bart says:

    Tommy Boy with Chris Farley and David Spade

    They’re driving and flipping among stations on the car stereo wnen “Superstar” by The Carpenters comes on. They look at each other and start asking which one of them is going to change the station. Cut back to them crying and singing the song at full volume.

  130. 130
    Paul in KY says:

    @Wally Ballou: RIP, Harry Chapin. A great one we lost much too early.

  131. 131
    DougJ says:

    @kd bart:

    It’s a great song.

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