When you turn on the radio, what do you hear?
You may be hearing another love song or something about loss tinged with the hope of a better future.
However, cars have been a mainstream theme since they became a standard form of transportation over 100 years ago.
People love buying cars because of their status symbol, how they look, and the freedom they represent to many.
These are the top 21 songs about cars that will have you wanting to jump in a Corvette or Rolls Royce and take to the open road.
1. “In My Merry Oldsmobile” by Gus Edwards
Discussing songs about cars would not be complete without paying homage to the very first song released in America about the subject.
Gus Edwards talks about running away and getting married to a woman named Lucille as they drive in his Oldsmobile. He mentions he wants to go to a church and peel away on the road with wedding bells attached to the legendary vehicle.
Edwards compares driving to flying in the lyrics, which denotes a sense of freedom he craves to have with his betrothed.
2. “In My Car” by The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys embraced the surfer movement when their most popular songs were released between 1962 to 1965 during their prime. Most of their songs highlighted the coastal culture of Southern California, driving the best cars, and their feelings about women.
“In My Car” was released in 1989 long after surfing culture had changed. However, it highlights how it feels to drive in a Corvette on the highway.
The song opines that the passengers in the car will feel alive and have fun during the experience. The Beach Boys even invite some ladies to join them in their travels with the blaring radio for a good time.
3. “Drive My Car” by The Beatles
The Beatles was an English rock band from the 1960s that popularized psychedelia as a music culture in the 1960s.
Their song “Drive My Car” revolves around the story of a woman who wants to be a star one day. Her start in fame is driving with the band members in their car. She’s upset that she has no car, but she feels driving around with a group can be a positive beginning for her ambitions.
There are some underlying innuendoes when the band sings that they can show her a better time. However, they are not overt, so it’s a song safe to listen to around the kids if you love throwback pop and rock music.
4. “In My Car (I’ll Be the Driver)” by Shania Twain
Shania Twain doesn’t mind her man being the leader when it comes to certain things at home such as the channel they watch on television.
However, she proudly proclaims that she takes the lead when they drive around in her car because that’s her personal space to express herself.
While she favors dedicating herself to her lover to do more of what he wants, she wants her voice to be heard and her personality shines through as she drives her car.
Although the specific type of car is not noted in the song, we can tell she vies to be very much an independent woman whenever she’s behind the wheel.
5. “Life is a Highway” by Rascal Flatts
Cue the Disney movie, Cars and start blaring “Life is a Highway” by Rascal Flatts.
If you were listening to country in the early to mid-2000s, more than likely you had Rascal Flatts somewhere in your playlist.
Rascal Flatts personifies life as a busy travel highway in a popularly metaphoric display. This “highway” is filled with different routes, offering a myriad of paths for you and other cars along the way (people in your life).
Life is not lived to its highest potential without taking risks somewhere along the way. If you need to step out of your comfort zone to help you grow as a person, play this song!
6. “Getaway Car” by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift has many tear-jerking songs in her arsenal about love, growing up, and relationships. “Getaway Car” is a breakup song with all the feelings personified via a rogue car.
The song outlines how a relationship got toxic from the get-go. They drank Old Fashioned together, suggesting that alcohol may have played a role in their relationship from the start.
The girl is the first to break off the relationship when she realizes that he was unhealthy to be around. All they seem to do is share white lies to avoid reality.
Since a circus cannot turn into a love story, it shows that a relationship that’s topsy turvy is likely not a good idea in the first place.
7. “Purple Lamborghini” by Rick Ross and Skrillex
Made to complement the movie, Suicide Squad, Rick Ross And Skrillex’s song “Purple Lamborghini” gives you the vision of Joker and the rest of his squad causing trouble in Gotham.
Crime and fear-mongering are the sub-themes of the song while a purple Lamborghini plays the role of a status symbol.
It’s more than a reference to a key DC villain. “Purple Lamborghini” shows how cars can enhance a person’s reputation even if they are as loathed as The Joker. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if you also happen to be a ruthless villain, too.
8. “All I Wanted Was a Car” by Brad Paisley
Brad Paisley opens the song reflecting on what a group of friends were doing with their lives to fulfill their career aspirations. Leading to the chorus, Paisley sings about how much the narrator desired his car.
This song shows how cars can offer a sense of freedom since they give people the opportunity to get in and go as they please. The singer mentions how the narrator worked a food court job and performed other odd jobs so that he could save up for the car of his dreams.
9. “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” by Billy Ocean
Featured in the 1988 movie, License to Drive, Billy Ocean’s song “Get Outta My Dream, Get Into My Car” shows infatuation at its finest.
The lyrics open with a conversation between the man and woman. He spots a woman on the road and becomes infatuated with her beauty. Rather than driving on, he decides to invite her into his car.
He tries to convince the woman that she should drive away with him, so they can have the time of their lives together. No matter the lyrics, it’s an upbeat song, with an infectious saxophone melody.
10. “Hot Rod Race” by Arkie Shibley and His Mountain Dew Boys
“Hot Rod Race” is an early rock and roll song sprinkled with Western swing. It has a tenacious boogie-woogie quality that lends weight to the theme of the song.
Shibley’s lyrics center on a fictional race, in which a faithful old Ford duels with a Mercury. However, the Mercury is not what it seems. In reality, it’s just a kid driving in a Model A.
Four songs followed “Hot Rod Race” to continue the storyline. It was an unusual approach at the time and makes the listener feel as if they are enjoying a book in song form.
11. “Hot Rod Lincoln” by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen
“Hot Rod Lincoln” was an answer song to “Hot Rod Race.” It begins by revealing that the narrator was the driver of the Model A in Arkie Shibley’s ditty.
Charlie Ryan and The Livingston Brothers performed the original version of “Hot Rod Lincoln” in 1955. Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen covered it in 1971.
The song tells a story of a remodeled Model A car personified as a hot rod Lincoln, as the song name suggests. A race between this remodeled Model A vehicle and Cadillac then takes place. “Hot Rod Lincoln” turns into a cautionary tale when it ends with the driver of the Model A being thrown in jail for speeding and racing.
12. “I’m in Love With My Car” by Queen
Who doesn’t love their car? Queen was an iconic British rock band from the 1970s. While ”I’m in Love With My Car” might be another metaphor, this is actually a sincere tribute to a car owned by the band’s drummer, Roger Taylor.
The lyrics set the tone with shining hubcaps, high-performance pistons, and the gears heard while working the steer as the imagery of why the song narrator loves his vehicle.
Queen throws in a rhyming quip that they would rather purchase a new carburetor than hang out with their girlfriend.
There’s no question that this song is an unabashed homage to automobiles. But, the lyrics of “I’m in Love With My Car” suggest Taylor may have been a little too passionate about his Alfa Romeo.
13. “Get in the Car” by Echo and the Bunnymen
Some songs that sing about getting in someone’s car can be in your face, with a rock and roll vibe or a blatant attempt at sweet-talking someone.
“Get in the Car” by Echo and the Bunnymen take a different approach in their alternative/indie and pop hit.
The song is a nostalgic look at how two lovers once enjoyed simpler times. It’s a walk down memory lane as they enjoy the stars and break free of their day-to-day routines.
Despite their days being challenging, the lovers can get in their car and reconnect with a more carefree past.
14. “Drive” by The Cars
“Drive” is, aptly enough, from the band, The Cars.
It’s a slow and sad melody about a man who is witnessing a woman that he may have dated before having a troubled time and all alone. He asks the woman if anyone will be taking her home tonight and if she needs a listening ear.
Even though she insists that nothing negative is happening to her, the narrator can see that she plainly needs help.
The song shows how even people who fall on hard times still need a shoulder to cry on and it’s best to help those who are trying to hide their suffering.
15. “My Hooptie” by Sir Mix-a-Lot
The car that Sir Mix-a-Lot mentions in his song “My Hooptie” is a 1969 Buick.
The hip-hop and rap hit highlights how he and his posse cruise around the city with expired tags and credentials while grabbing McDonald’s. As his ex-girlfriend shoots out his headlight and they run over her feet, she calls the cops and that’s when the song gets suspenseful and spicy.
They escape the cops with their mismatched tires, but they eventually run out of gas as they hit a traffic jam. Sir Mix-a-Lot artfully captures the misadventures that can happen when you’re in the hood with a hooptie.
16. “I Got the Keys” by DJ Khaled featuring Future and Jay-Z
Three music giants collaborate in the song “I Got the Keys,” which opens up talking about wraiths. A Rolls-Royce Wraith is one of the models for the luxury vehicle brand that celebrities love and the average person can’t help but dream of owning.
Besides mentioning wraiths, the song goes on to outline DJ Khaled’s keys to success in how he became an American DJ.
Part of the song touches on the provocative topic of corruption as they remark how they have money to get out of the court system if they are ever convicted of a crime. All they have to do is throw some “chips” at the judge.
17. “Shut Up and Drive” by Rihanna
While you may think Rihanna’s “Shut Up and Drive” is about her telling someone to take the wheel of her car as they go on a ride, listen again. There are lots of innuendoes sprinkled throughout the lyrics.
The girl in the song is on the verge of an explosion while the man in the song has the keys to her metaphorical car. Yes, that does allude to activities that are entirely unrelated to mechanical matters.
Even the fast speed limit discussed in the song could have you thinking someone is driving hyper-fast on the road, but it’s the fast-paced interaction of two lovers in the bedroom.
18. “Red Camaro” by Rascal Flatts
Can you tell that Rascal Flatts loves singing about cars?
Rather than being the driver in the red Camaro, the song’s narrator sees one driving by him one day. He reminisces on how his summers were fun and carefree when he used to drive around in a Camaro with a former lover.
Summer loves are blissful and thrilling and Rascal Flatts shows the power of it just by the fleeting sight of a familiar car. A red car is symbolic of being fast and reckless, which makes you think of the freedom that the narrator and his lover had in the song.
19. “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” by Lucinda Williams
“Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” is set in Macon, Georgia. The narrator yearns to drive away from the rough times of a child crying in the back seat, longing to escape places that used to cause her pain.
Williams wrote and sang this song during difficult times in her life. She laments the imperfection in people as they endure challenges in their lives and watch as life passes them by, sometimes not knowing what to do next.
20. “Keep the Car Running” by Arcade Fire
“Keep the Car Running” by Arcade Fire is a Canadian indie song that suggests the narrator does not want to deal with death and feels like a group is after him.
In fact, judging by the lyrics, there is a clear fear that someone is out to get him. Who the group is doesn’t get revealed, only that “them” seem intent on causing harm.
The song title itself shows that this narrator must be continually on the go to protect himself. While you get the idea that he is driving around for protection, it’s a suspenseful display of how a car can be a way to get out of trouble.
21. “The Car” by Jeff Carson
“The Car” is simply titled, but the storyline is very deep. The boy in the song wants to have a Mustang that is sitting in the garage and needs fixing up. However, his father has been working overtime since his mother died and cannot take the time to revamp the car together.
Later in the song, the father dies and leaves his son a note with a pair of car keys. It turns out that the father fixed up a different car before he died and was able to give it to his son before his last breath.
While it was not the car that the boy wanted, he cherished it much more because it was his father’s.
Cars are not only a way to get around from place to place, but symbolize something much greater: The ability to go wherever you want. Of course, many of these songs only use cars as a metaphor. But, that doesn’t mean that these songs aren’t a great addition to a road trip.
What’s your favorite car song to cruise to while driving your hot rod?