It’s getting to be that season where we all start making our travel plans. We all seem to set our sights a-far as the days get longer and the unofficial start of summer looms near Memorial Day. We’re all looking for those last minute deals on plane tickets and packages and wondering what does it mean to still use AirBnB in gentrifying big cities worldwide.
Once upon a time it was simpler and harder all at once. Travel came via Road and Rail, the locations less exotic, and often attached with many hassles.
Especially for folks of color and those outside of heterosexual norms, the call of the open road via recreational travel came with many limitations of where one could safely stop, rest and nourish well into the 1960’s (and some would still say into today). For African Americans, this dovetailed into having The Negro Motorist Green Book
from 1936 through 1966.
While we affirm our pasts and think of where to point our vacations this coming Summer, I’ve assembled a playlist that’s a grab bag of how to get there if you can.
The primary focus here is on Cars and Trains, with a mix of Pop, Jazz, Rockabilly, R&B, Television Jingles and Country crafted during the years that the Interstate Highway expanded and rail travel declined as private motor vehicle ownership sky-rocketed and Airline Travel became more of a widespread way of travel as well. It’s interesting that most of the songs by White performers on this list corral themselves around car ownership while songs by minorities range from cars, to trains to buses and…well, hitchhiking.
What is travel without some tunes? As you look at the map and point yourself to places afar (I’m already done, I’ll be seeing Baltimore, D.C., Philadelphia and New York in a few weeks) I hope these gems inspire you to take some really enchanting journeys.
1) Dinah Shore – See The U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet (1952)
2) The Storey Sisters – Bad Motorcycle (1958)
3) The Delicates – Black & White Thunderbird (1959)
4) Chuck Berry – Route 66 (1961)
5) Jean DuShon – Hitchhike (1964)
6) David Ruffin – Mr. Bus Driver (Hurry, Hurry) (1962)
7) The Contours – Pa, I Need A Car (1963)
8) Norma Jean – I Wouldn’t Buy A Used Car From Him (1965)
9) Nina Simone – Come Back, Jack (1961)
10) Billy Vaughan & Orchestra – Wheels (1960)
11) Barbara Streisand – Gotta Move (1963)
12) Gene Pitney – Last Chance To Turn Around (Last Exit To Brooklyn) (1965)
13) 1965 Buick – Wouldn’t You Really Rather Have A Buick? (1964)
14) Pat Thomas – Detour Ahead (1964)
15) Etta James – One For My Baby And One For The Road (1962)
16) Teri Thornton – Detroit Freeway (1966)
17) Bill Hayes & Florence Henderson – The Rocket Olds Rap for ’59 (1958)
18) The Angels – My Boyfriend’s Woody (1964)
19) The Marvelettes – The Train That’s Bringing My Baby (1964)
20) Shorty Long – Heading North (1965)
21) Ray Pollard – The Drifter (1965)
22) The ShangriLas – The Train From Kansas City (1965)
23) Lou Christie – If Only My Car Could Talk (1966)
24) Little Lisa – Choo Choo Train (1966)
25) The Fifth Dimension – Go Where You Wanna Go (1967)
26) Martha & The Vandellas – Motoring (1965)
27) Otis Redding & Carla Thomas – Tramp (1967)
28) The Soul Survivors – Expressway To Your Heart (1967)
29) Andre Williams – Cadillac Jack (1968)
30) The Marvelettes – Destination Anywhere (1968)
31) Carole King – Road To Nowhere (1966)
32) Timi Yuro – Gotta Travel On (1963)
33) Dusty Springfield – Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa (1964)
34) Petula Clark – On The Road (1968)
35) George Bruns – Theme from “The Love Bug” (1968)