Driving Music

A driving playlist I created a few weeks ago. I was doing a lot of motorway driving at the time, so this primarily consists of upbeat, energetic tracks; the sort of music you want blasting out loudly as you roar along at 70mph.

1. Freedom (Michael W Smith). An instrumental piece that deserves to be the sound-track of an epic film, this sets the tone for the playlist from its opening drumbeats to its final crescendoing theme.

2. Baba Yetu (Christopher Tin). The opening music for Civilization IV and the first piece of computer game music to win a Grammy, this – like No. 13 – is a brilliant example of modern choral orchestral music. The lyrics consist of The Lords Prayer in Swahili.

3. Jurassic Park (John Williams). Possibly the single best piece of orchestral music of the post-war period, familiarity never reduces this piece’s impact.

4. Summer of ’69 (Bryan Adams). One of the quintessential power ballads and a song of my teenage years. Announces the entrance of modern rock into the playlist with a bang.

5. Dancing in the Dark (Bruce Springsteen). There are so many great Springsteen tracks that could go on a playlist like this, but this is one of the all-time greats.

6. Adiemus (Karl Jenkins). With its gentler tones and gradually building volume, this beautiful choral piece restores a sense of calmness after the previous tracks, whilst still keeping up a positive pace.

7. Circle of Life (Elton John). One of Disney’s iconic pieces, from one of the great popular songwriters of our time, this song manages to encapsulate the grandeur of its lyrics.

8. Gimme Gimme Gimme a Man After Midnight (Abba). Classic Abba and one of their few pieces that would really fit on this playlist, bringing a lighter note to the middle section.

9. One Moment in Time (Whitney Houston). Whitney Houston’s superb voice belting out the chorus with the full power of her incredible lungs can’t help but inspire.

10. He’s a Pirate (Klaus Badelt). This is the most recognisable portion of the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean, which remains one of the few films I’ve rewatched in large part because I wanted to listen to the sound-track.

11. Alba (Runrig). There were many potential candidates from this Scottish folk-rock band, but Alba, the attention-grabbing opening to their album The Cutter and the Clan, is perhaps the most fitting. The fact that the lyrics are Gaelic (ironically) makes it easy to ignore their Scots-Nationalist meaning.

12. Let it Go (Idina Menzel). You can’t beat a bit of Elsa. I once heard Menzel perform this live in Manila and it was every bit as good as you might expect.

13. Sogno di Volare (‘The Dream of Flight’) (Christopher Tin). The companionpiece to No. 2, this is the opening music for Civilization VI. If you like Beethoven’s 9th, you’ll probably like this.

14. Heaven is a Place on Earth (Belinda Carlisle). I just like this.

15. Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves (Cher). Great tune, great lyrics, all round classic.

16. Calypso (John Denver). This is one of my favourite of Denver’s songs. Not only do I love the lyrics and the lilting tune, particularly the chorus, I find it hugely charming that the song was written to honour a naturalist and their ocean-going research ship.

17. Chariots of Fire (Vangelis). The lead-in to the final section of the playlist, Vangelis’ classic sound track can’t help but call to mind the glorious portrayal of Liddell and Abrahams triumphing against the odds.

18. Born to Run (Bruce Springsteen). Another Springsteen classic, it would be hard to put Springsteen on a driving playlist without including this track(1).

19. Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway) (Billy Joel). This title feels somewhat peculiar given that it’s now 2018, but it remains a great song. I understand that Joel performed it for a charity concert shortly after 9/11, which must have been particularly poignant.

20. I’m a Doun for Lack o’ Johnnie (Vanessa-Mae). A lot of great options from Mae, and I almost started the playlist with her Toccata and Fugue, but in the end chose to draw things to a close with her slightly gentle, but still powerful, riff on a Scottish folk tune.

(1) Yes, you could use Thunder Road instead.