Road trips come with a lot of positives: a sense of adventure, time to decompress from the stresses of everyday life, and of course, the cheap culinary delights of gas station hot dogs. It also comes with one inevitable drawback: boredom. You’ll probably run out of podcasts by hour nine, and your well-worn road trip playlist will start getting pretty monotonous around hour 14. Luckily, we spoke to an expert for advice on how to solve your driving blues with some fresh new tunes.
Dan Aid is an actor, musician, and writer currently based out of Los Angeles. He came up in the Denver punk scene as the front man for The Snobs, White Leather, The Hate, and Wiredogs. He’s recorded and released two solo albums, and also works as an actor.
“From frantic boat rides across Canadian lakes, to midnight plane rides out of Finland, to waking up on the road in the middle of an American desert,” he says, “I have been been lucky enough to get to spend a few years of my life touring the world. In that time I have had a lot of opportunities to find the right music for the right moment. Hopefully listeners will find a tune on this playlist to fit their moment.”
Here Aid shares his 10 go-to songs on the road, and why these are his favorite driving songs.
1. Light Year by Gregory Alan Isakov
On tour you are often sharing a small hotel room, and more often then not a bed with a band member. And that band member may or may not snore with a profound vigor and volume. This song (really the entire This Empty Northern Hemisphere record) were what I would fall asleep to with my earbuds in most nights.
2. Angeles by Elliott Smith
I distinctly remember driving through the German countryside somewhere past this power plant with these massive cement smoke stacks on a rainy afternoon and listening to this song. The whole B side of Either/Or is always a sentimental go-to for me when I’m in a van.
3. Smoke Signals by Phoebe Bridgers
One of the best late night drive songs ever. Many after show drives spent laying back, staring out over my shoes at the deep darkness just past the windows with this on in my bunk.
4. The Ballad of El Goodo by Big Star
This one makes me think of being out in Chicago for Riot Fest and drinking margaritas at Big Star Tacos in Wicker Park with my old band Wiredogs. We ended up playing basketball in the rain with some local kids that night, sliding all over the court, missing pretty much everything thrown at the rim, but we were having the time of our lives.
5. John The Gun by Hiss Golden Messenger
I discovered this record (Hallelujah Anyhow) sitting at the airport about to get on a flight to Japan to start our tour with Hey Smith!. I remember turning my bass player Mikey onto it, and we just geeked out on these tunes the whole tour.
6. Pledge Wore Thin by Hot Water Music
It took me a long time to get on the HWM bandwagon, but when I finally heard their Exister album I swear it was all I listened to for a year on tour. Many a Hilton Garden Inn gym treadmill has been vigorously walked on while listening this one.
7. Dorks by Aesop Rock
We had a tour manager for a US run that turned me onto this one. We would sit up front jamming this in between stops at Buc-ee’s and the Czech Stop.
8. Slow Burn by Kacey Musgraves
My friend Kimi turned me on to this record and I like to listen to it on planes. Over the years I’ve become a more anxious flier and this one always feels soothing on the ol’ nerves.
9. Everything Apart by Foxwarren
Kolby took me to see Andy Shauf at the Larimer Lounge in Denver and I fell in love with Andy’s songwriting. I remember listening to this on the bullet train to Osaka during Authority Zero’s first headlining tour of Japan.
10. Smile by Descendents
You always need a couple Descendents tunes on your playlist. I remember hitting up Bill when I wanted to learn how to play drums, and I’ll never forget him sitting cross legged on the floor of the drum room at the blasting room putting together cymbal stands for me to borrow. Good times.