Hooniverse Asks- What’s Been the Best Era for Driving Music?


The first radios were installed in automobiles back in the 1930s, the initial designs coming form from Motorola, and engineered by BIll Lear of Lear Jet fame. The first FM radio, which substantially increased fidelity over its AM counterpart, was introduced by Blaupunkt in 1952. Three years later Chrysler offered a strange under-dash record player giving drivers for the first time the option of listening to what they wanted when they wanted, but it would take a decade and a half before in-dash tapedecks made this practice commonplace. Today we all have many options for how we get music in our cars, from iPods to Satellite Radio, and that means far more options for what we listen to as well.

It seems that along with every advancement in automotive entertainment options, we also saw music change as well. While tastes and genres may have evolved one thing that has remained constant is the the need for music made to accompany driving fast. From Get Out and Get Under in 1913 to Sammy Hagar’s genetic predisposition to exceeding the posted limit, every era has had songs about driving, and more importantly for driving.

But which era had the best? What was the golden age of car songs, specifically the ones you’d want to play when the hammer is down. What do you think, what era has provided the best driving music? 

Image source: expresslane

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39 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- What’s Been the Best Era for Driving Music?”

  1. Number_Six Avatar

    [youtube 6ZWoJ8_75Mo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZWoJ8_75Mo youtube]

    1. Alff Avatar

      Yep. The decade that gave us Bohemian Rhapsody, Radar Love, Bad Motorscooter has to be the answer.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar


        1. MJMCG Avatar

          That was my first thought. Having just re-orderd Supertramp's anthology for this very reason. (goodbye stranger….).
          However, we must give a small nod to the 90's and the likes of the Chemical Brothers and Death in Vegas for being great for ensuring you make (ahem) "brisk progress".
          But then, little beats Pink Floyd for driving at night in the middle of nowhere…

          1. Sjalabais Avatar

            A Supertramp live record was the first CD I ever bought.

          2. Road Ranger Avatar
            Road Ranger

            Headed into a blazing red sunset in western Kansas on I-70 with a half toasted blunt in the tray with "Set the Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" cranked up to 11 on the Blaupunkt. None better.

    2. PushrodRWD Avatar

      Wicked good choice!
      The music from the 70's was and is the best for driving. There was such a wide variety of great music from early punk and metal to the big bands like Zep….
      There were some great songs and a few good bands before and after but the older music was a bit to mellow. The newer stuff is just a pretentions whine fest, good for the catatonic speed-crazed cosmo jocks…..

    3. GTXcellent Avatar

      One of the best programs on Sirius/XM 70s is when they replay Casey Kasem's top 40 shows from "back in the day." There is such a wonderful, eclectic mix of music, especially in the first half of the decade. Anything from Zeppelin to CCR to James Brown to the Osmonds. I don't think we'll ever see that kind of diversity and variety again.

      1. Devin Avatar

        Something bad happened in the world of radio programming between then and now, a variety of new stuff certainly exists, but the homogenized programming has made it impossible to hear it all on one radio station, certainly not in one programming block.

  2. Sjalabais Avatar

    With the original question solved, let me share this take on good German technology:
    [youtube ytVdBLMmRno http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytVdBLMmRno youtube]
    I don't even know if I like the spot, but I laughed evil tears.

    1. FЯeeMan Avatar

      Seriously, that is fantastic!

  3. cruisintime Avatar

    Born To Run, Springsteen rocks.

  4. Vavon Avatar

    The 80's!!!
    [youtube IB1aNlGkhhI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IB1aNlGkhhI youtube]

  5. Irishzombieman☆ Avatar

    First: The 70s. but that's already been given above.
    Second: The 90s. Evidence: Grunge in general, plus Cake, Stone Temple Pilots, The Foo Fighters, Goo Goo Dolls.
    And this little ditty, the first release from 1990s The Razor's Edge. Unrelated to the stuff I just listed, but one of the greatest driving tunes EVAR.
    [youtube v2AC41dglnM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2AC41dglnM youtube]

  6. Kogashiwa Avatar

    Got to support the 90's. Guaranteed to shave seconds off your time.
    [youtube JlyoRm9UqbE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlyoRm9UqbE youtube]

    1. quattrovalvole Avatar

      I used to live in a condo where I have to go down 5 levels in the basement to my parking spot. Needless to say, listening to this on the way down shaves seconds off my time in my personal downhill/NASCAR (10 left turns) track.

  7. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    Black Sabbath – Paranoid

  8. Hopman Avatar

    Late 70's to mid-80's. I usually crank up Molly Hatchet's "Flirting With Disaster" while driving into Boston.

  9. Devin Avatar

    Right now, though the music in question is inspired by the '80s.
    Drive soundtrack, Kavinsky's Outrun, pretty much everyone on the Italians Do It Better label. Perfect for driving around at night feeling awesome.

    1. frankthecat Avatar

      I present to you, Galaxy Train 1989 by Mitch Murder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXh9Gp4FZ9s
      No embed because of the Tron clips.
      And Odaiba Chase by Flashworx
      [youtube a-jASTELsow http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-jASTELsow youtube]
      80's ain't dead.

      1. frankthecat Avatar

        And I can't forget Justice's Planisphère EP:
        [youtube TG_X93C_fQU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG_X93C_fQU youtube]

  10. JayP2112 Avatar

    Thanks to Pandora, I've discovered or rediscovered some old stuff.
    All land in the mid-70's to mid 80's era and revolve around Sabbath/Dio/Rainbow/WhiteSnake/DeepPurple/Blackmore.
    In other news, my mullet is coming in great!

    1. scroggzilla Avatar

      Your car will sprout thunderchicken decals if you keep that up.

      1. JayP2112 Avatar

        Let's keep that on the downlow.
        [youtube 9I9MDswUeYc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9I9MDswUeYc youtube]

  11. scroggzilla Avatar

    [youtube Y1y-tbz1u78 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1y-tbz1u78 youtube]

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Just the sort of answer I'd expect from a guy who drives a Kasabian Super Ti Lux.

      1. scroggzilla Avatar

        It's the pride of the Luxembourgian auto industry!

  12. Maymar Avatar

    Josh Homme has been recording for what, 20 years now? So I submit the past 20 years.

  13. ralphcramdo Avatar

    The 70's and 80's are where the best driving music is, with few exceptions . Record companies today have simply lost touch producing quality music everyone enjoys.

  14. frankthecat Avatar

    Pretty sure that this question's answers are going to be heavily skewed toward the mean age of Hooniverse's commentor pool…

  15. Eric Rood Avatar
    Eric Rood

    Gotta say the '90s, because space rock and Swervedriver (British band writing muscle car songs?).
    [youtube MHva52tOoeo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHva52tOoeo youtube]
    If it's raining, throw on Hum's 'Downward is Heavenward.'

  16. I_Borgward Avatar

    Hmm, the best… now that's a tall order, 'specially with generational bias and such. Each era has its gems.
    I'm pretty jaded, actually, -quite sick to death- with the music of the late 60's and 70's, and of classic rock in particular. It's been so vastly overplayed that it doesn't even remind me of being a pup in the 70's anymore, it reminds me of being in a waiting room at the tire store, or at the grocery shopping for dish soap. Enough with the cultural tyranny of the Boomers, I say! Seriously, do you really need to hear "Stairway to Heaven" -ever- again? Just one man's opinion.
    One thing I've found that sounds great in most any car on most any system is music recorded in the 50's or prior, not because of any particular style, but because of technical limitations! Limited frequency range can be your friend. Say, maybe some Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys, Hank Williams, or some old big band. No shimmering highs, no bowel-shaking lows, it's all in the frequency band that will sound good even on the crappiest of systems. Stuff recorded primarily for AM radio can also fall in this category.
    I was reminded how limited the system is in my 245 today when I cranked up my new discovery, the band Savages. I haven't been this taken with a rock band in years, and their album's been in heavy rotation in the house. However, the bass and some of the high end is completely lost in the car, especially at highway speeds with the windows down, and it just doesn't quite work. But Bob Wills still sounds great!

    1. dead_elvis Avatar

      Gotta concur on all counts! All kinds of fun WW2-era & earlier sounds great in a car (and makes for a fantastic change of pace on a long road trip). Stuff from the Alan Lomax collections too, probably in part due to the primitive recording quality as you mentioned.
      In the car has long been my favorite place to listen to music, second only to a small club with decent sound. I'm over stadium shows at this point.

  17. jimbob457 Avatar

    Road music??: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

  18. R.L. Elliott Avatar
    R.L. Elliott

    "I Can't Drive 55!" Sammy Hagar…'nuff said! 🙂

  19. CopterBob Avatar

    The 00s! (1800-1810) Beethoven Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Opus 67, perfect for slicing through traffic or twisty mountain roads.

  20. PotbellyJoe ★★★★☆ Avatar
    PotbellyJoe ★★★★☆

    Is '89 to '98 an era?
    STP – Trippin' On A Hole In A Paper Heart
    Pearl Jam – Even Flow
    Everclear – Electra made me blind (and the rest of Sparkle and Fade)
    Eve6 – Open Road Song
    Bush – Machine Head
    RHCP – Suck My Kiss
    Smashing Pumpkins – Gish (Muzzle, Jellybelly, Zero, BWBW, Geek USA)
    RATM – Bombtrack
    I could keep going, but my point is made.

    1. MVEilenstein Avatar

      1997 was a very good year.
      [youtube PvF9PAxe5Ng http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvF9PAxe5Ng youtube]

  21. BobWellington Avatar

    '90s, and anything by Queens of the Stone Age.

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