Best Road Trip Movie Albums

Movie songs make the film more exciting, and those same soundtracks can make road trips more fun. Whether borrowed from the local public library or purchased elsewhere, keep everyone motivated and the trip rolling along listening to favorite movie soundtrack albums.

“O Brother Where Art Thou” (2000)

Based on the movie by the Cohen brothers of the same name, “O Brother Where Art Thou” shines with all the best of blues, country, gospel, and bluegrass. The album follows a story about a man’s journey, but also stands alone as soulful, soothing, and fun entertainment. In 2010, National Public Radio (NPR) named it as one of the decade’s 50 most important albums.

“The Grey Fox” (1982)

This soundtrack got a lot of attention because the world-famous Chieftans were among the musical artists. The album, as all movie soundtracks, carries the same name as the movie. Some of the sounds on these tracks are not what one might think to be considered music. However, travel is just as much about galloping horses and chugging trains, as it is travel by car, truck, or even on foot. Uniquely fun listening enjoyment awaits the adventurous traveler with these unexpected additions on the album.

“Twister” (1996)

“Twister” is an over-the-top action movie carrying its powerful sounds over onto the album. The theme song is “Respect the Wind” by Van Halen. That tune is the only one on the soundtrack without lyrics, but it sets a distinctly powerful tone throughout the album. Each song builds with all the excitement of twists and turns of life, not just on the road.

“Easy Rider” (1969)

The movie was a surprise hit and the soundtrack is still a radio rock favorite. Songs like Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild,” the Byrds “Wasn’t Born to Follow,” and seventeen other classic rock tunes set the tone for hitting the road and staying there as long as the gas tank and wallet allow. A couple facts make “Easy Rider” even more endearing to its longtime fans: Unlike most movie soundtracks, it contains film dialogue; also it became so successful that the album went out of print for a long time, returning to overseas markets in 1993 and finally available in America again in 2000 to the joy of road trippers yearning for the “Easy Rider” open road feeling.

“Get Shorty” (1995)

“Get Shorty’s” cool spy and cheesy bad guy undertones easily mix into the dark, jazzy tunes on the album. Booker T. and the MG’s perform five of these instrumentals. It is worthy of adding to the road trip music stack as a 1997 Grammy award winning album and all-around fun style it solicits in driver and passengers, with elbows resting on rolled-down windows and the coolest sunglasses positions.

“Cars” (1996)

The movie and album title alone make this soundtrack so perfect for a road trip. It blends classic traveling songs like “Route 66″and” “Life is a Highway,” with original tunes by Randy Newman, like “Tractor Tipping,” and the “Big Race.” Even the most grumpy backseat driver is bound to get the road trip bug and go happily along for the ride. Since “Cars” was a Disney-Pixar family movie, children should recognize and love to roll along with these tunes, too.

“The Blues Brothers” (1985)

While the “Cars” soundtrack album entertains families with youngsters, the “Blues Brothers” album is a good bonding opportunity for road tripping teens and parents. Dan Ackroyd, John Belushi, and their amazing band perform many of the songs, but there are music legends performing some of their best known tunes, like Aretha Franklin belting-out “Think,” Ray Charles singing “Shake a Tail Feather,” and Cab Calloway crooning his classic “Minnie the Moocher.” The variety of music genres brings something for everyone’s best road trip listening, including “Theme from Rawhide,” “Sweet Home Chicago,” and more keep travelers gladly rolling along.

“The Sound of Music (1965)

Did someone say “Let’s sing a-long?” That temptation is tough to resist, especially “Doe, a deer a female deer. Ray, a drop of golden sun….” This is the ultimate family sing-a-long road trip album, especially around that third day on the road when everybody is in need of resurgence.

“Slumdog Millionaire” (2008)

This movie’s soundtrack album is just as popular with critics as the movie itself, even winning an Oscar Award. It mixes hip-hop with Bollywood-style music, bringing a refreshing twist to mainstream American entertainment experience. The unique sound of “Slumdog Millionaire” is an opportunity for the summer family vacation to span several generations. Parents, teens, and youngsters cannot help but tap along with songs like “Paper Planes,” by M.I.A. to “Mausam and Escape,” by A.R. Rahman, and the eleven other cool tracks.

“South Pacific” (1958)

This album harkens every traveler to visions of tropical adventures. It is perfect escape music for a road trip to the beach, iPod on a plane to Hawaii, or just making a regular day a bit easier while driving around town doing errands. “South Pacific” is a classic mix of some of the best vocals ever to come out of Broadway, onto the movie screen, and thankfully in an enduring soundtrack album.

Can’t afford road trip music? Check-out the public library nearest you. Music can be borrowed the same way books are borrowed. It only requires registering for a free membership card and a commitment to bring back what you borrow. Travelers deserve the joy of music on the road, and it doesn’t have to be limited to the airwaves. Bring back the fun of favorite movies by taking their soundtracks along on the next road trip.


Lynn Pritchett, Yahoo Contributor opinion
South Pacific, Broadway history