While driving back from Albany this past Sunday night, I popped in a CD I hadn’t listened to in ages: the mix I made for my best friend Connie when she got her license, better known as The “Happy Road Test” Ultimate Driving Mix.
As the mix began with the most fitting track of them all — Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me,” naturally — the singalong also began, and didn’t stop until Swirl 360 kicked in 18 tracks later. (Or at least until the CD started skipping like hell and, defeated, I had to eject the poor sucker. Mom’s Vibe isn’t too keen on playing burned discs.)
What amazed me most as I listened and laughed and sang was not the randomness of some of my song choices (The Red Hot Who?), but how fitting a time capsule these 19 songs were for that moment in my life. I was 17 when I made the mix, and didn’t have my own license yet, but I knew that these were the tracks that I would have wanted to hear if I myself were behind the wheel.
Save for a few songs that I wouldn’t be too sad to see go, I have to say that I was pretty much dead-on in my selections. This was the first time I listened to this disc while I was the one driving, and it was awesome. The singing/shouting to “Bohemian Rhapsody” was especially epic, though I must give props to my rapping abilities (“‘Yo Nelly, can we get tickets to the next show?’ Hell no! You for real?!?”) and memorization of the harmonies in “How Bizarre.”
If I were building an Ultimate Driving Mix today, I’d probably make a lot of revisions to this early list. But these 19 songs will always hold a special place in my nostalgic, driving heart. For real.
The “Happy Road Test” Ultimate Driving Mix:
- Nelly – Ride Wit Me
- OMC – How Bizarre
- The Beatles – Drive My Car
- Fastball – The Way
- Gin Blossoms – Hey Jealousy
- Incubus – Drive
- Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
- Something Corporate – I Woke Up in a Car
- John Mayer – Why Georgia
- The Early November – Sunday Drive
- The Ataris – Boys of Summer
- The Red Hot Valentines – Firecracker
- Phantom Planet – California
- Paul Oakenfold – Starry-Eyed Surprise
- Third Eye Blind – Motorcycle Drive By
- The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – The Impression That I Get
- Barenaked Ladies – Brian Wilson (live)
- Tom Cochrane – Life is a Highway
- Swirl 360 – Candy in the Sun
Tell me, readers: Have you ever smoked an L in the back of a Benz-y? Driven in the sun, looking out for number one? Seen a Black Flag sticker on a Cadillac? Not minded when the cigarette ash flies in your eyes? Woken up in a car? Let the cops chase you around? Seen that the road that they walk on, is, indeed, paved in gold?
Leave the answers to these questions, along with your favorite driving songs, in the comments.