Summer Playlist: Ultimate road trip tunes

Vacations abound during the summer months, and there’s nothing better than a road trip with friends or family—the journey is often just as important as the destination. We asked School of Music dean Brian Cole to curate our summer playlist of ultimate road trip tunes. His selections span four areas:

  1. Songs about traveling
  2. Songs about a destination
  3. Songs about looking forward or backward
  4. Songs that have an excellent vibe/groove and make the drive more fun!

Roll your windows down, turn the volume up, and enjoy the drive:


The best road trip. That would definitely be a 5-day drive through Andalusia (Southern Spain) with my wife, sister and brother-in-law. While the cities we visited (Granada, Córdoba, Sevilla, Ronda, among others) were incredible in their own right, I have to say that it is the sights of the green rolling hills, olive and grape fields, jagged cliffs, distant mountains and small, ancient towns that I remember most. It is a special, special place on this planet.

All-time favorite. “Across The Universe” (Rufus Wainwright) Rufus is one of my favorite performers, perhaps my favorite songwriter, and here he is singing one of my all-time favorite songs. Nothing can take away from the Beatles, but I love the innocence and surrender that comes across in Rufus' interpretation of one of their greatest songs. He’s recorded it several times, but this first version from the “I am Sam” soundtrack is my favorite.

Meaningful inspiration. “HUMBLE” (Kendrick Lamar). Kendrick inspires me greatly with his impressive poetic and rhythmic skills, dynamic combinations of styles, and by the honesty and transparency of his message. Sometimes its brutal and uncomfortable, but it is always meaningful. Watch Cole’s TEDx talk for more of his thoughts on Kendrick Lamar.

Variety. “Divertimento for Strings, Sz. 113: 3. Allegro assai” (composed by Béla Bartók) and “Bulls on Parade” (Rage Against the Machine). My musical tastes are all over the map, and this playlist is good snapshot of that. The world of music is very big, and you can find great things and meaningful art in every corner of it. I personally can find connections even between Bartók and Rage Against the Machine—others may think that is blasphemy, but I call it like I see it. Art is in the eye of the beholder, and if it means something to you, then that’s what it means. Aside from that philosophical detour, I think that a good road trip playlist should change up styles, genres, feel, and tempo to keep your mind occupied and stimulated. 

A legacy. “Seasons” (Chris Cornell). As I mentioned in the intro, this is one of those songs about looking back. Long drives can be a time for introspection, and this song speaks to me in that way. Chris Cornell was also one of my favorite rocks singers of all time, perhaps in my top 3. I was really saddened to hear of his passing, and wanted to include this song on the list as a tribute. His legacy for future musicians is profound. Few people can say they helped create a genre, defined a musical period and wrote a prolific amount of music that was and will continue to be cherished by millions of people. Rest in peace, Mr. Cornell.

Brian Cole

This month's playlist is by Brian Cole, Dean of the School of Music.


by Hannah Callaway

June 21, 2017