Songs For The Road
Words By: Roland Ellis | March 16th, 2015
“What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good- bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”
Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Elvis Presley - That’s All Right
It’d be a travesty not to include the King on a high-energy playlist like this one. “That’s All Right”, written by Arthur Crudup, was released as Elvis’ first single in 1954 on the Sun Records label. Elvis and his bandmates were between takes on another track when they started messing around with the upbeat “That’s All Right”. Thankfully, producer Sam Philips recognised the potential in those few moments and convinced Elvis to commit the song to tape. Upon listening back to the recording, Billy Black (bass player) remarked, “Damn. Get that on the radio and they’ll run us out of town”.
Elvis Presley - Mystery Train
First released as the B-side to “I Forgot to Remember to Forget”, Elvis’ 1955 version of “Mystery Train” would later make Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the top 100 songs of all time.
Screamin Jay Hawkins - I Put A Spell On You
Screamin’ Jay’s 1956, “I Put A Spell On You”, will put the fear of a rapey/creepy god in any man.
The Coasters - Down In Mexico
Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, “Down In Mexico” was released on The Coasters’ third album in 1956. This song’s experienced a renaissance of late: Quentin Tarantino included it on the soundtrack for Death Proof; and Todd Philips used it in The Hangover III.
Joe Tex - I Wanna Be Free
Recorded by Rick Hall in the early days of the Muscle Shoals recording studios (1963), “I Wanna Be Free” was left off Joe Tex’s Hold What You’ve Got album but has somehow endured as one of the singer’s best-known songs.
Nina Simone - Sinnerman
Simone recorded this version of the much-covered “Sinnerman” in 1961 for her album Live At The Village Gate. Energy worthy of a Vanishing Point car chase.
Booker T & The MG’s - Green Onions
Released by Stax, September 1962. Written by Booker T & the MG’s. Slam the door and start the engine.
Chuck Berry - You Never Can Tell
Released in 1964 on the St. Louis to Liverpool album, “You Never Can Tell” was written by Berry while in prison in the early 60s for allegedly violating the ‘Mann Act’. This song might also ring a bell if you’re a Pulp Fiction fan—see the iconic Travolta/Thurman dance competition scene.
Chuck Berry - No Particular Place To Go
Second up in the Chuck Berry section of the program is “No Particular Place To Go”, which was also a cut from Berry’s St. Louis to Liverpool record.
Them - Gloria
“Gloria” was originally released as a B-side to “Baby, Please Don’t Go” in 1964. Van Morrison wrote the song when he was eighteen years old.
The Animals – The House of the Rising Sun
Released in mid 1964, The Animals’ version of this iconic folk traditional has been called "a revolutionary single" after which “the face of modern music was changed forever”.
Rolling Stones - Not Fade Away
Originally penned by Buddy Holly, the Stones’ version of “Not Fade Away” relies heavily on a Bo Diddley-esque backbeat. Released as a single in 1964, this track was responsible for the Stones’ first real attack on the US market.
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