Austin’s been kind enough to let us take over again, so I’ll be bringing you this week’s Aural Fixation. Everyone knows fall is the best season for interstate driving (cue blue skies, changing leaves and Starbucks in your cupholder), and today’s AF has just the right steady, thoughtful tunes for rolling down those gray roads.[divider] [/divider]
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit: “Go It Alone”
Isbell is one of my favorite Southern rock/alternative country/Americana singer/songwriters, and this song with his band, The 400 Unit, is one of my favorites. His lyrics are driven and heartfelt, and the guitar in “Go It Alone” sounds just like pressing down on the gas.
Best lyric for the road: “Are you lonely tonight / are you out on the road?”[divider] [/divider]
Drive-By Truckers: “Rebels”
The Truckers go hand-in-hand with Jason Isbell—he was a member of the band and wrote and fronted several of their songs in the early 2000s. “Rebels” is a cover of a Tom Petty song—better, in my opinion, than the original. Its quick beat and “Hey, hey, hey!” chant during the chorus make for the perfect song to turn up really loud.
Best lyric for the road: “With one foot on the ground / and one foot on the pedal / I was born a rebel”[divider] [/divider]
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit: “Alabama Pines”
Back to Isbell again—this is the last time for this playlist. Many music critics have said it was “Alabama Pines” that put Isbell back on the map after he left the Truckers in 2007. The idea of living in hotel rooms, with no one knowing your name and no one looking for you, is really bleak, but beautiful, too.
Best lyric for the road: “And I needed that damn woman / like a dream needs gasoline”[divider] [/divider]
Amos Lee: “Southern Girl”
Reminiscent of James Taylor, Amos Lee has that sweet, sad, simple tenor. Being a Southern girl myself, this song makes me feel like he’s singing right to me. Regardless, it sort of sounds like leaving someone or something behind, and getting a fresh start.
Best lyric for the road: “Farewell, my sweet / well, the time now has come / the road has begun / to move beneath my feet”[divider] [/divider]
Jeff Martin: “Galveston”
Jeff Martin is one of my more recent discoveries. “Galveston” itself is a song about driving to the coastal Texas town from one of the South’s favorite cities, New Orleans. The mellow, acoustic nature of the song is perfect for reflection, and quiet enough you can hear the tires turn against the asphalt.
Best lyric for the road: “A wandering heart just holds you down / and I’m tired of town after town”
Onward, Soldiers: “Carolina”
I’d be hard-pressed to find a song I love driving to more than this one. It’s slow, sad, and thoughtful. Add some light rain and a cloudy sky to your drive, and you’ve got the mood of this song.
Best lyric for the road: “Home is where you’re sleeping tonight”[divider] [/divider]
Jakob Dylan: “Will It Grow”
Enter Jakob Dylan, son of (you guessed it) Bob Dylan, with the same folks-y, acoustic sound that people love. Well-known for his time with band The Wallflowers, most of Dylan’s music is perfect for interstate driving.
Best lyric for the road: “Dig my ditches in the golden sun / I’d be robbin’ these trains if I could catch me one”[divider] [/divider]
The Everybodyfields: “Out On The Highway”
“Out On The Highway” tells the story of a Southern whiskey runner and the anxiety his mother faced waiting for him to come home. It’s the perfect combination of acoustic guitar-playing and frontman Sam Quinn‘s unique vocals.
Best lyric for the road: “Sixty miles an hour after midnight / you’re o’er that county line”[divider] [/divider]
This playlist could have easily been made up of my favorite Augustana songs—they’re a great band for the road. The electric guitar and drumbeat in “Dust” break up the almost-indie sound of the rest of this playlist.
Best lyric for the road: “If you can’t trust the wind / who can you trust?”[divider] [/divider]
Drive-By Truckers: “(Something’s Got To) Give Pretty Soon”
One of the lesser-known songs by the Truckers, “Give Pretty Soon” tells the story of a couple whose relationship is falling apart. It’s sad, sweet and almost terse in its discussion of the issues.
Best lyric for the road: “Sitting in silence in a cold and lonely room / while the world goes on around us”[divider] [/divider]
Van Morrison: “Into The Mystic”
I was introduced to Van Morrison by a good friend in high school, and he’s remained a favorite ever since. He has such a huge body of music, which can be intimidating, but “Into The Mystic” is a surefire favorite for any listener. I have a dream of listening to this song while riding in a convertible by the beach on a cloudy day—maybe it’ll happen one day.
Best lyric for the road: “And when that foghorn blows / I will be coming home”[divider] [/divider]