6 Awesome Indie Rock Songs About Driving

Driving is such a fundamental part of our lives, it's only natural that hundreds of songs would be written about cars, driving, and the sort of feelings and events that take place while on the road. These songs show how attached we truly are to our vehicles as an extension of ourselves, that so many emotions can be linked to moments we've spent in transit. In fact, listening to these songs on your commute or on a road trip can really enhance the time you spend in your car, for the ways you can relate to them and the nostalgia that accompanies their lyrics. Below, we give you six indie rock songs for your next journey in the car.

  1. Arcade Fire – "Keep the Car Running"

    From Arcade Fire's album, Neon Bible, "Keep the Car Running" is an upbeat song with a frantic rhythm to match the frenetic nature of the lyrics themselves. Win Butler's lyrics describe a sense of foreboding about some unknown (or unclarified) entity coming for him, and that he may flee, leaving behind his loved one. The words "They know my name because I told it to them, but they don't know where, and they don't know when. It's coming… keep the car running" show us his palpable panic for a force that will, indeed, take him if he lingers too long in the same place. Butler alludes to all kinds of themes in Neon Bible, from death and the afterlife to his personal feelings about the war in Iraq. The song could be about evading death, and a fear or uncertainty of the rapture. It could also be about Butler's uneasiness about being drafted as a soldier for a war he doesn't support. Either way, he pleads for us to keep the engine warm, as he is on the verge of hopping into the front seat for a ride.

  2. Death Cab for Cutie – "Passenger Seat"

    Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie has a way of making us empathize entirely with his lyrics. We have felt the pains he describes in all of his heart-wrenching breakup hymns, just as we are completely familiar with the poignant, quietly beautiful moments you can have on a night joyride with a loved one. Gibbard describes, "I roll the window down, and then begin to breathe in the darkest country road and the strong scent of evergreen, from the passenger seat as you are driving me home." One can almost see the moment — an old convertible snaking down an empty road, the wind creating a gentle whistle while the stars glimmer above them. Gibbard is relishing this moment he has with her, committing it to memory. Soon, they will approach his home, and this frozen instance in time will end. But for now, "With [his] feet on the dash, the world doesn't matter."

  3. Grouplove – "Getaway Car"

    Grouplove brings us this mellow, dreamy anthem for escapism in "Getaway Car," in which lead vocalist Christian Zucconi sings about mistakes he and his lover have made, but how they can leave it all behind at the drop of a dime. This romantic idea of hitting the road and becoming invincible and happier in a life lead by runaways is a common trope. Zucconi sings, "When I go outside, will you wait out here in this getaway car? When times are hard, we can escape." It's easy to feel overwhelmed and think that all your problems can be solved if you simply drive away and never look back. Cars have always been a vehicle for fleeing to the new frontier. In this instance, Zucconi wants his loved one to follow him, trusting that they will make a better life together elsewhere. He beckons, “We’re traveling on this open road and the cold wind blows. Will you come to me?"

  4. Old 97's – "Won't be Home"

    "I was born in the backseat of a Mustang, on a cold night in the pouring rain. And the very first song that the radio sang was 'I Won't Be Home No More.'" These words encompass the chorus of Old 97's "Won't be Home," a sort of Western Americana-sounding song about a long-overdue breakup. Rhett Miller describes his music as "alternative country," but unlike the usual melancholy, whining leads of mainstream country music where a break-up is concerned, Miller is mad, and doesn't have to put up with this gal any longer. He suspects that this poor match stems from his birth story — that he is too podunk for her, born on the side of the road — but he isn't apologetic for his upbringing. On the contrary, he's perfectly capable of conducting another major life event from a moving car, such as leaving her on the side of the road and moving on, so to speak, to greener pastures. Miller continues with, "I'm pulling off the road, I'm opening the door. I'm giving you the pavement, I'm telling you what for. You're no more than a thought, and you're getting smaller in my rear view mirror."

  5. Built to Spill – "Car"

    Doug Martsch of Built to Spill has a habit for writing sort of riddling lyrics, which could be perceived as both nonsensical jabber and brilliantly existential in nature. The opening lines of the song, "You get the car, I'll get the night off…I need a ride, you need a guide who needs a map," leads us to believe that he will be the guide, but he needs to figure some things out, and it might be more in the realm of the metaphorical rather than the literal. The rest of his lyrics catalogue cryptic phrases about things in the universe he both doesn't understand, and on some levels, doesn't want to understand.

  6. Spoon – "Car Radio"

    Oh, but to be young and carefree. John Britt Daniel's lyrics are told from the viewpoint of a teenage boy who doesn't have a care in the world. Of his few real possessions, he has a car. The car is a huge milestone for a teenager who, frankly, doesn't even realize the extent of the power they've suddenly acquired. It is a symbol of freedom and adulthood, of your parent's trust that you won't run away or endanger the lives of others with a vehicle than has the power to do tremendous damage. Perhaps this is why young men develop such strong relationships with their cars; to them, it is both a toy and a means of exploring the world much more deeply than they were previously able to do. Daniel exemplifies this notion with the lyrics, "Car radio, that's what I got. Voice of authority from here to empire state. Car radio, car wash. Foolin' around, just a minor on the interstate."

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