Editorial

No Such Thing As The Ultimate Driving Mix

I love music nearly as much as I love cars, and anybody who read my column The Calming Power of the Wrench knows that these loves tend to blend together. There are quite a few compilations out there to cater to people like me, but out of the hundreds of driving song mixes I've seen, there's never been a single one which I'd leave in my CD changer for any serious amount of time. I'd bet it's the same for you too.

Now, I understand that in the iPod era, many people view these compilations as outdated, but I would argue that there is still some value to them. For starters, hunting for each song you want while driving is both inconvenient and dangerous. A compilation is also a good thing to have for those who have a difficult time picking just the right songs for a specific situation. There is no better feeling than having just the right song come on at just the right moment, and for that reason, we will always need mixes just for driving. The downside of using a list of songs selected by someone else is that while these songs do work for driving, they might not work for you.

Of course, even when you make the mix yourself, there are pitfalls that must be avoided. Versatility is important, and if you're the type of person who listens only to one genre of music, you're probably going to run into trouble. Aggressive music, like many forms of hip-hop or speed metal, is great for drag racing between the lights, but tends to lead to a pile of speeding tickets when you take it out on the interstate. Irish punk is really only good on the way to the bar, and if you make the mistake of listening to pop country after the bar, you'll probably drive into a tree on purpose.

Clearly, the mix needs to tailored to the specific driving conditions you're dealing with. This is another of those reasons to avoid compilations, they work on the assumption that a mix can be all-purpose. Best to keep a few different mixes on hand, preferably made up of different genres. There's no need to get obsessive about it, but both cars and music have strong emotional connections for us, and when you manage to get the blend of the two just right, your diving experience can be enjoyed in ways you might not even realize you're missing. Road trips can be difficult to plan for, but here I have a suggestion.

It is obviously more important for you to like the music than for you to take my advice, but there is one area of music I have found indispensible while watching thousands of miles of America roll by, and this is my column after all. The world of Americana/blues/country/blues rock/outlaw country is currently experiencing a renaissance, and quite a lot of it is being made by people with a serious love for cars. Check out Outlaw Radio Chicago to hear all the latest bands, it's what I listen to on my way to work. All of the pictures you see here are of artists who play this kind of music, see if you can tell who they are.

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