Thursday, 26 January 2017

Top 10 Alternative Driving Songs

Something that’s never gone away as car technology advances is the desire to listen to great music while driving, especially if it compliments the scenery or relaxes you mid-traffic-jam. 

As a Guitar teacher I’ve been exposed to an enormous amount of Music of all styles and popularity levels. So, presuming that you already know the clichéd motorway big hitters from The Eagles, AC/DC and Bruce Springsteen, here are my Top 10 Alternative Driving Songs. All by bands you may’ve forgotten, or haven’t heard of at all.

Here’s the accompanying Spotify playlist - Get it saved and get in the car!

1) Everything Everything - To The Blade
Everything Everything are one of the most exciting British bands of the last few years, and what’s more, the 3 founding members were born and raised in Northumberland. This track, “To The Blade” starts unusually, with a rambling solo vocal, but the huge crescendo/drop at 0:54 takes the song in an amazingly energetic direction.

2) Mark Knopfler - Sailing To Philadelphia
You already know Knopfler, arguably the finest Guitarist the North East has ever produced, as the man behind Dire Straits (Sultans Of Swing) and composer of film score / NUFC anthem Going Home/Local Hero. This hypnotic acoustic ballad refers to “Durham and Northumberland” in verse one, conjures up visions of Northumberland’s scenery, and is a collaboration with Folk legend James Taylor.

3) Tears For Fears - Everybody Wants To Rule The World
This 1985 hit definitely fits the category of “Forgotten Classics” - revived as a fantastic driving song by Peter Kay’s recent BBC sitcom “Car Share”. The typically huge 80’s drum beat and fluctuating melancholic melodies make this song perfect for our driving playlist.

4) José González - Crosses
José González is an Argentinian-Swedish artist known for his moody, evocative folk songs. “Crosses” is one of his best, with a drivingly rhythmic undercurrent and a reflective vocal that lends itself to looking out the window at the world flashing by

5) New Radicals - You Get What You Give
This one made New Radicals something of a one hit wonder back in 1998. It’s a perfectly constructed pop song with a lot of energy, making it a great driving song and one that’s sure to bring back memories of the late 90’s when for a brief moment, this song was everywhere

6) Al Stewart - Year Of The Cat
Glasgow-born Al Stewart released “Year Of The Cat” in 1976 (and instantly moved to L.A. following its success!) - It demonstrates his great storytelling lyricism and the melodic talents of the band around him. The song manages to simultaneously be upbeat and have an edge of sadness. You’re going to find yourself singing along to this one.

7) Nitin Sawhney - Breathing Light
Nitin Sawhney is a British-Indian composer and producer who has worked with just about everybody, won multiple awards for his film scores, and even originally worked with actor and comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar on the concept that later became BBC sketch show Goodness Gracious Me. “Breathing Light” is a beautiful genre-mixing instrumental full of interesting violin, piano and percussion parts.

8) Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks
Grizzly Bear emerged from Brooklyn, NY in the early-mid 2000’s.  “Two Weeks” is one of their best songs, full of amazing, swelling vocal harmonies that create an epic, scenic soundscape. This is another one well-suited to the more scenic routes, and another one that’ll get you singing along, with some painfully high-pitched (but very fun) Oohs and Aahs. Enjoy!

9) Porcupine Tree - Trains
What starts as an acoustic ballad later becomes another huge soundscape, that won award after award for its surround sound mix in 2002.  This was the first song I thought of for this driving playlist, such is the dynamic of the song (you’ll see what I mean - remember to listen to the spotify playlist). It’s also probably one you’ve not heard of, as Porcupine Tree have remained relatively obscure.

10) Mutual Benefit - Not For Nothing
Disillusioned US banker turned hippy-songwriter Jordan Lee formed Mutual Benefit to realise his Folk music aspirations. “Not For Nothing” is typical of his writing - bare, emotional lyrics, luscious strings arrangements and a reflective mood that is made for a night-time drive.

That concludes my playlist of the Top 10 Alternative Driving Songs. I’d love to hear your own driving playlists so be sure to share them. Happy listening!

About the author:

Alex Bruce runs Bruce Music - Guitar Lessons London.  Bruce Music provide expert, friendly Guitar Teachers to students all over London.  You can find Alex and Bruce Music on Twitter here

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