Van Tunes: Ten Classics to Fuel all Your Backland Summer Road Trips

The Greatest Hits to Accompany You on Warm Wind Adventures


Emma Sanders, Copy Editor

Summer is the time to embark upon adventures, explore the unknown, and jam to some good tunes. Summer is also the time for reminiscing, so why not throwback to some great classics? The following ten songs are my personal favorites for the road trip playlist.

1) “Fortunate Son” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

“Fortunate Son” is definitely not overlooked in the film industry, and has been the ultimate protest song since its release in 1969. This song has a speedy drum beat overlayed with the sporadic bursts of 60’s style electric guitar. This song spends about three quarters hyping itself up for the climactic chorus, but keeps the energy the whole time. As a tune sticking it to the conformist culture, this song is the ultimate theme song for those seeking their own unprecedented adventures.

2) “My Sharona” – The Knack

The Knack’s musical style resembles that of The Romantics, which is partially due to the time bubble of both bands, but “My Sharona” blew everyone out of the water. The song unleashed brash drum beats in a way that just really works, and a mid-song guitar riff that completely characterizes the soul and bursting musicality of both the tune and the time. “My Sharona” is a song that will inspire you to move and groove and put your arms in the air.

3) “Walk Of Life” – Dire Straits

While “Walk Of Life” is not the most recognized song of Dire Straits, it is definitely one of the more zestful. However the song does have the tendency to hide in the shadow of the basic beat style of “Romeo and Juliet,” which is far more popular. Nevertheless, “Walk Of Life” embodies the enthusiasm and liveliness of summer and wild positivity, and hypes up the song with some basic chords, then the fast tempo drums kick in, which lead into the lyrics and whole melody. “Walk Of Life” is a necessity for any fun loving adventurer.

4) “Listen to the Music” – The Doobie Brothers

“Listen to the Music” starts out with some quiet yet vibrant guitar strumming, which is followed by equally calm vocals. The song is characterized by the guitar strumming, which is only momentarily abandoned for the sake of pursuing an intricate note exchange halfway through the song, after which the classic strumming is resumed to be accompanied by the tranquil yet mesmerizing vocals that watch over the tune. This tune is fantastic for setting a good mood and opening the mind to possibilities.

5) “Dirty Work” – Steely Dan

This song is unique for the multiple style transformations it undergoes in 3:09 minutes. Starting out with a tranquilized rhythm and vaguely monotone sound, “Dirty Work” is reminiscent of Squeeze’s “Tempted.” But a few moments of listening into “Dirty Work” drops the monotone beat, and leads into a stoned melody, accompanied by the song’s first lyrics. “Dirty Work” is very repetitive when it comes to the simple lyrics, but as the song progresses it gains both life and noise. This song is a chill classic combo for any adventure into the unknown.

6) “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” – England Dan, John Ford Coley

This song is strange for its ability to adapt to a variety of situation, ranging from some serious mood tunes, to the cheesy throwbacks. This song missed the disco era, but seems to be trying to hang on to it, intertwined with a heavy track of acoustic country, primarily characterized by the light vocals. This song IS a fun time, and the dudes on the album cover, Nights Are Forever, are by far, the epitome of classic coolness.

7) “Layla” – Derek & The Dominos, Eric Clapton

At the turn of the decade, in 1970, and before the world had “Layla – Acoustic,” Eric Clapton ripped some hardcore electric guitar, which flowed down into his gritty voice in the beginning of “Layla,” intertwined with the rock-blues style of Derek & The Dominos. “Layla” combines so many aspects of music, from the extended vocals and dramatic high pitches of blues, to the twangy vibes of the exceedingly electrified guitar. “Layla” is the song for those wild, nonconformist adventures that need some electrified hype.

8) “Box # 10” – Jim Croce

“Box # 10” is from one of my favorite albums, You Don’t Mess Around With Jim. Although this song is on the shorter side, the creative guitar notes paired with Croce’s rebellious folk style is the perfect background music to seek road trip thrills. This song has a sad underlying tone, but energizes the tune with upbeat vocals and combats the melancholic melody with intricate guitar notes during the vocal absences. Jim Croce always looks like a dude in need of a guitar, which is probably why this song is so good.

9) “Ventura Highway” – America

This song comes off of America’s second studio album, Homecoming, and is known for its varying layers of guitar throughout the track, which range from intricate notes to background chords. The lyrics to “Ventura Highway” are mostly comprised of metaphors relating to nature, but the guitar constant washes over the lyrics beginning pretty early into the song. “Ventura Highway” is one of the greatest 1970’s hits of acoustic guitar, and is a great tune to listen to during a backland adventure.

10) “I Know It’s Over” – Jeff Buckley

Jeff Buckley’s style fits somewhere in between smooth grunge and coffee house music, and “I Know It’s Over” has the melancholia, depth of lyric, and aesthetic guitar vibrations to fit perfectly somewhere in the middle. “I Know It’s Over”  uses shocking and unexpected word choice to patch together images that are emotionally exaggerated by the guitar chords, and accessorized by the tone depth and dramatic pitch changes incorporated by Buckley. This song is provocative and raw, and truly releases the expanses of the mind.

These songs are great tunes to blast in the summer mountains, or the cool introspective nights. Either way, these songs all make me want to hang my head out the window during road trips, and I hope that you’ll find the same energy and zest for the classic life in them.