I had the privilege of being raised on oldies.
Throughout my formative years and beyond, I listened primarily to music ranging from the ’30s through the ’80s. Though my music taste has expanded exponentially over the last 20-some-odd years, I still have an inherent love for all the classics and listen to them regularly.
I personally believe everyone should be exposed to old music—there were some serious BOPS back in the day! But I also realize that not everyone could have a dad with the top tier music taste of mine, so I thought I’d put together 13 of my favorites for you.
The following list is Road Trip Approved due to its high-quality, high-energy nature. Add this list to your driving music lineup, and you will never fall asleep in the car again. 😉
You Can’t Hurry Love by The Supremes
You may have heard Phil Collins’ version, but he didn’t write it! The Supremes originally recorded You Can’t Hurry Love in 1966, and I think they did a much better job—they just bring more energy into it. That familiar opening tamborine/bass line signals one of my absolute favorite jams, and if it comes on you know the volume is getting cranked! 😍
December, 1963 (Oh What a Night!) by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
This song was written by The Four Seasons’ keyboard player Bob Gaudio and released in 1975 on the album Who Loves You. Not only does it have the nostalgic feel of actually being in December of 1963, but I think you’ll find it difficult to avoid bopping your head to the drum beat right off the rip 😊
Crocodile Rock by Elton John
Crocodile Rock was written by Elton and his best bud Bernie Taupin, and released in 1972. With the 2019 movie Rocketman and the general popularity of Elton John (I mean come on, he’s a genius!), I would be surprised if most people HAVEN’T heard this song. But maybe you haven’t added it to your playlists yet. Here, let me help you with that.
Holiday Road by Lindsey Buckingham
This was written and recorded by former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham for National Lampoon’s Vacation in 1983 and was subsequently used in sequels to the movie. When I was a kid and we had a family road trip planned, my dad would wake everyone up by BLASTING Holiday Road at top volume. I can 100% guarantee there’s no better way to start a journey 😎
La Bamba by Ritchie Valens
La Bamba is originally a Mexican folk song so there are a number of versions out there, but Ritchie Valens adapted and released my favorite in 1958 when he was only 16. It’s one of the Rock n roll Hall of Fame’s “500 songs that shaped rock n roll”. No surprise there, it’s so fun and dancey!
Beach Baby by First Class
Do you remember back in old LA when everybody drove a Chevrolet? You will when you listen to this 1974 Power Pop hit! Beach Baby manages to capture every sentimental summer feeling there is in 4 minutes and 53 seconds. It was a one-hit wonder, but it packs enough wonder to be worth a whole album!
Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me) by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
My boy Frankie and all his Seasons made it onto the list again! I actually didn’t realize how many of the songs I love are by these guys until I watched Jersey Boys (I recommend that too, very interesting story). Opus 17 is named for it being their 17th single released in 1966. Whenever I hear this song, I want it to keep going forever.
Summer of ’69 by Bryan Adams
Recorded in 1984 and released in 1985, Summer of ’69 might be the most well-known song on this list. For that reason I considered not including it (I’m trying to give you songs you may NOT have heard before), but I mean… how could I not? It’s one of the all-time greatest and you can’t reasonably road trip without it.
We Built This City by Starship
Starting out strong, staying strong throughout, and ending strong: that’s right, I’m taking about We Built This City. After hitting number one in Australia, Canada, and the US, this 1985 gem landed on several “Worst Song” lists. I cannot fathom why, as this is one of the catchiest songs out there and another one I’m always compelled to listen to at top volume.
Easy Come, Easy Go by Bobby Sherman
Bobby Sherman wasn’t the first to record Easy Come, Easy Go (the original was Cass Elliot in 1969), but he took the song and gave it a glow-up in 1970. He sped up the tempo and added some powerhouse brass, giving it the oomph that makes it the lovable, addicting tune we all know and add to our road trip playlists today 😉
Happy Heart by Andy Williams
Oh how I love Andy Williams 💜
Released in 1969, Petula Clark and Andy Williams both had their own versions of Happy Heart chart simultaneously. Andy Williams had the number one spot for 2 weeks, while Clark only hit number 12. Her version is slow and soulful, but nothing, and I mean NOTHING, tops Andy Williams’ angelic voice.
Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom) by Perry Como
Now this song is just a good time all around. Is it possible to listen to this and NOT crack a smile? And NOT sway back and forth imagining you’re on a carousel made of dreams? Psh. Good luck. Hot Diggity was recorded in 1956 at Webster Hall in New York City. Bonus: Perry Como also has some quality Christmas tunes you should check out when the holiday season comes back around!
Can Can by various artists including Jacques Offenbach
I’m not really into much classical music and I know hardly anything about it as a genre, so I can’t give you much fun fact material on this one. But what I can tell you is that YOU WILL HAVE SO MUCH FUN LISTENING TO THIS. One of my favorite pastimes is rolling down the windows and maxing out the volume while bouncing up and down. Please give it a shot, you will not regret it (just don’t get into a car accident because it’s possible to get TOO excited)! 😁
And there you have it—13 spectacular songs to level up your road trips! I could give you hundreds more suggestions from various decades and genres up through the present, but I will leave those for another day.
If you’re feeling a little lazy (no judgment) and don’t want to do the work of creating this epic playlist yourself, feel free to borrow mine!