Road trip tunes & the power of music

Songs are powerful. They can make us feel a variety of emotions and even prompt us to recall past events.

Heading into Winter Park from the west.
Grand County, Colorado.

A friend recently posted a video to Facebook while on a road trip to California. He and his daughter were cruising through the desert listening to U2. I had a flashback to one of my own desert road trips.

Way back in 1999, Ryan and I drove from Denver to Bellingham, Washington in his brand new Ford 150. Throughout Utah and Southern Idaho, two dusty and bug infested places, we listened to “Californication” (Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1999).

To this day, whenever I hear any song from “Californication,” I remember that road trip. Another song that elicits a road trip memory, I’m embarrassed to say, is Sugar Ray’s “Every Morning.” It brings back vivid memories of driving in Seattle on a warm summer day with my friend Rachel sometime in the late 1990s.

Yet another song is “One Week” by the Barenaked Ladies. If I happen to hear this song I recall another college road trip to Whistler, B.C.

Lake City, Colorado.
Lake City, Colorado.

On our road trips around Colorado, Ryan and I mostly listen to books on Audible, but occasionally we get bored with our book and we listen to music. Sometimes we surf local radio stations; there’s a lot of country music in Colorado, by the way. Lately, however, we utilize Pandora (that is if we have a wi-fi connection).

My favorite Pandora station right now for great road trippin’ tunes is “90s Radio.” While I was teasing this post on Twitter, @Pandoraradio informed me via a tweet that they have a “Road Trip” genre station. Several friends also mentioned this. I will check this out on our next road trip, which is Durango at the end of this month.

When I took an unscientific poll of Facebook friends, their favorite road trip tunes included everything from Frank Sinatra to Blackmill to the Steve Miller Band.

Heading out of Pagosa Springs towards Wolf Creek Pass.
Heading out of Pagosa Springs towards Wolf Creek Pass.

Several friends noted that their road trip music selection depends on their mood. For me, landscape influences my listening mood. Whenever I’m traveling in Eastern Colorado I feel like listening to country-western. County seems to fit the flat fields, tractors and occasional barn that dot the countryside of the Eastern Plains.

How about you? What are your favorite road trip tunes and do you have a song that evokes a strong travel memory? Please share in the comment section.


  1. Great memories. This reminds me of my first roadtrip from Virginia to Colorado in 1988, coincidentally with my friend Heidi. We had a long box with CDs and it was her job to change them (she didn’t drive in those days). So, back in those days, we associated entire albums with a road trip. The one in particular is Dan Fogelberg’s High Country Snows which has a few Colorado themed songs on it, including Wolf Creek. Of course, now we listen to Sirius/XM (they used to have a Road Trip station) or podcasts. Thanks again for these thoughts (I sent Heidi the link).


    1. Thanks for the memory, Mark! And thanks for stopping by HeidiTown. We listen to a lot of full albums in our house because Ryan’s gotten into vinyl over the past five years. It’s a great way to listen to music because it’s the way the artist intended his or her music to be listened to.


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