Top 10 driving songs: Country Life’s road trip playlist

What could be better than cruising down a country lane beneath a crisp, blue sky? Doing it to the perfect soundtrack, of course. Angus Gibson selects his top 10 tracks to drive to.

As I walk towards her, I smile. She’s been good to me, through thick and thin – she goes the extra mile. I’d like to say my heart skips a beat, but that’s ridiculous – it’s only a car. However, I love this car. She’s beautiful and powerful, with a fantastic stereo system.

I can’t wait to start my journey down through the Cotswolds for a weekend in Dorset. I know the road ahead like a spaniel tracks his favourite woodland walk – you know the one, from the A40 at Burford down the B4425 to Aldsworth, passing through Bibury and Barnsley.

I start the engine and put my playlist on the stereo, volume set at nine, no – make it 10. This is my perfect driving soundtrack.

1. Second Hand News by Fleetwood Mac (Rumours)

The opening track from this album starts at a gallop and reminds me of long-ago summer nights, marquees, Juliana’s Disco-theque and carefree days. Of making friends and lost loves. It’s Fleetwood Mac at their most majestic, riding high, as we all were then.

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2. Rolling in the Deep by Adele (21)

Starting with rhythmic guitar chords, Adele’s commanding voice follows to a pounding drum beat. This is tremendous, a big song from an extraordinary artist. The engine is warmed up and Adele has told her ex that they ‘could have had it all’ as I turn onto the Burford road. I slam down the throttle, the car twitches and then lurches at speed. I’m getting into my stride.

3. Beast of Burden by The Rolling Stones (Some Girls)

It’s time for the swagger of Jagger and the distinctive guitar of Keith Richards. It’s almost impossible for me to choose the best Stones track and equally difficult not to pout and mimic Mick as I drive through the English countryside. I’m in my element, but I can’t wait to get to Dorset.

4. Respect by Aretha Franklin (released as a single)

There’s a gear change on the car and on the stereo as Aretha belts out her soul classic. The voice, the brass section and backing vocals are from another era – why don’t they make records like this now? I drum my
fingers on the steering wheel and think of my teenage daughter, who loves Aretha and tells me she feels confident when she sings her songs. That’s my girl!

5. New Frontier by Donald Fagen (The Nightfly)

Cornering sharply, I brake hard to allow a pheasant to scuttle into the undergrowth. Why do they try to cross the road when they could fly over it? A bassline counts in the next track, from what is perhaps my favourite record, by the other half of Steely Dan. He’s a master, a true musician – a singer, a songwriter, a player, a band leader, odd-looking, but cool. That cock pheasant was lucky. I’ve got my eye on you – see you next season.

6. Starman by David Bowie (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars)

Leaving Barnsley House behind me, Bowie’s acoustic guitar chords strain through the loudspeakers, appearing off-key. His vocals sound theatrical, then that unmistakeable London accent kicks off the first verse. I start singing along – I know all the words and the memories flood back. This was a life-changing record for me. I’ve always been curious that Bowie never lost his London accent, even when he lived in the USA. He’s much missed.

7. Come Together by The Beatles (Abbey Road)

The opening track from this album can only be described as fantastic. It just has everything – those inimitable Lennon vocals, the arrangement, the band so polished at this point in its career. Rock ’n’ roll in its finest hour. I slow down for an endless series of roundabouts.

8. Every Breath You Take by The Police (Synchronicity)

Stewart Copeland’s drum crash kicks off the track and I find myself compelled to turn up the volume. Sting starts singing those familiar words and I begin to reflect on how dark this song is – brilliant, but strange. ‘Every breath you take, every move you make… I’ll be watching you.’ Were they lying in bed or was he stalking her? Far in the distance, I glimpse two deer grazing. Are they watching each other or watching out for each other?

9. Avalon by Roxy Music (Avalon)

Bryan Ferry is one of our greatest singer-songwriters, innovative and with wonderful style. ‘Now the party’s over,’ Avalon starts – I think about the party this weekend and what it might be like to look like Mr Ferry. I check the mirror and am disappointed.

10. Shine on you Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd (Wish You Were Here)

Finally, Dorset! I’ve arrived in heaven and, appropriately, Pink Floyd comes on the stereo. It’s a long track and I get lost, not on the road, but in the music. Now that it’s nearly over, I don’t want this journey to end.
I arrive at my destination and sit in the car to hear the end of the song. How many times have I done that?