She watched him as his taillights disappeared around the bend
The road goes on forever, and the party never ends

— Robert Earl Keen

The story of American music is a tale of travel — of styles and performers whose paths have crossed and connected, forked and intersected. It’s the story of settlers and slaves who brought the songs of their homelands across the ocean, then across the land. And it’s the story of the traveling minstrels of the 19th century who wandered the countryside and played their songs for anyone who would listen.

In the early 1900s it was the story of A.P. Carter, who drove his wife Sara and her cousin Maybelle out of the Appalachian Mountains in a broken-down Ford so they could sing their songs into a microphone and create what we now call country music. It was the story of a mediocre blues musician named Robert Johnson who, legend has it, met the devil at a Mississippi crossroads and sold his soul to become the greatest guitar player who ever lived. And it was the story of hundreds of other blues and jazz musicians who escaped the sharecropping and poverty of the deep South and lit out by train, bus, or thumb for the big cities of the North, where they began brewing the concoction of influences that eventually became R&B, soul, bebop, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Some folks swear you can trace every movement in American music back to the Mississippi Delta, that 250-mile stretch of land that links Memphis and New Orleans. That is certainly an oversimplification — the American pop song probably owes as much to the Scotch/Irish ballad tradition as to African-American spirituals and work songs. Still, the Delta is home to perhaps the most famous road in American music: U.S. Highway 61, a road paved with the dreams of three generations of African-Americans who traveled north out of the cotton fields to make their mark in the blues clubs of Chicago and St. Louis, or who followed the highway south to New Orleans to play jazz.

Whether you’re tracing that diaspora this summer, or just heading to the nearest music festival (or amusement park, or Grandma’s house), let Popdose’s Ultimate Road Trip Mixtape guide your hands on the steering wheel. After all, as the man said, the road goes on forever, and the party never ends.

— Jon Cummings

These mixes were a collaborative effort by the entire Popdose staff, and to all of them I offer both my thanks and my apologies — the former for all of their thoughtful suggestions and feedback, the latter for utterly ignoring most of them. They provided me with enough terrific music for seven or eight CDs. Cutting it all down to manageable size is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, and I had to take my own taste as my guide. The stuff you like, give them the credit; the stuff you don’t, I’ll take the blame.

Special huge thanks to Dw. Dunphy, for his sterling art and design work.

And to you, our readers: Wherever you’re bound this summer, may this music see you safely there and back again.

— Jack Feerick

One last note: Selected cuts from the mixes are available as individual downloads, but really — if you’re gonna ride with us, why not ride all the way?

DOWNLOAD THE WHOLE PACKAGE (all three mixes plus artwork: 325 MB .RAR file)

PART ONE: LIGHTS OUT FOR THE TERRITORIES
Full Mix – 1:18:04

I. Get Everybody And Their Stuff Together
(intro: The Blues Brothers)
Tank! (Theme to Cowboy Bebop) – The Seat Belts
Ride – The Vines
The Passenger – Siouxsie and the Banshees
On the Road Again – Canned Heat
Roam – The B-52s

II. Someone Take The Wheel
(interlude: Ralph Spoilsport Mantrum – The Firesign Theater)
Going Mobile – The Who
Harley Davidson – Mick Harvey with Anita Lane
Vehicle – The Ides of March
Dashboard – Modest Mouse
Boss Hoss – The Sonics
The Bumpin’ Contraption – Latyrx

III. No Particular Place To Go
(interlude: Jack Kerouac reads from On the Road)
Missing Person Afternoon – The Story
Trampled Underfoot – Led Zeppelin
Silver Wheels (live) – Bruce Cockburn
Away – The Feelies
Freeway Jam – Jeff Beck
Hang On St. Christopher – The Bulletboys
Burn Rubber On Me – The Gap Band
Gear Jammer – George Thorogood and the Destroyers
(coda: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation)

PART TWO: BROTHER WHERE YOU BOUND
Full mix – 1:18:04

IV. Dangerous Curves
(intro: Back To The Future)
Crash – The Primitives
Panama – Van Halen
I Ride In Your Slipstream – Richard Thompson
Rev It Up – Casual Gods
Car Song – Elastica

V. And You May Ask Yourself, Where Does That Highway Go To?
(interlude: Big Trouble In Little China)
I’ve Been Everywhere – Johnny Cash
Orphan Girl – Emmylou Harris
Driving South – The Stone Roses
Highway 49 – Howlin’ Wolf
Tennessee Plates – Charlie Sexton
East Easy Rider – Julian Cope
Roadrunner – The Modern Lovers
Lover – Michael Stanley Band
On The Western Skyline – Bruce Hornsby and the Range
Going In the Right Direction – Robert Randolph and the Family Band

VI. Another Roadside Attraction
(interlude: National Lampoon’s Vacation)
Sunday Afternoon – Blossom Dearie
The Church of Logic, Sin, and Love – The Men
Last Chance Texaco – Rickie Lee Jones
San Berdoo Sunburn – The Eagles of Death Metal
DizzKneeLand – dada
Trigger Happy Jack (Drive-By à Go-Go) – Poe
Eight Hundred and Thirteen Mile Car Trip – They Might Be Giants
(coda: The Big Lebowski)

PART THREE: LONG WAY HOME
Full mix – 1:17:41

VII. The Hour Of The Wolf
(intro: Days of Thunder)
2, 4, 6, 8, Motorway! – The Tom Robinson Band
Passenger Side – Wilco
(interlude: Big Trouble In Little China, slight return)
The Western Lands – Material with Wm. S. Burroughs
Night Hawks – Crossover
Moonlight Mile – The Rolling Stones
(interlude: Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas)
State Trooper – Cowboy Junkies
Screenwriter’s Blues – Soul Coughing
Radar Love – Golden Earring
(interlude: Airplane!)

VIII: We’re Gonna Get To That Place We Really Wanna Go
Born To Run – Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Formula, Cola, Dollar Draft – Marah
My City Was Gone – The Pretenders
A Million Miles Away – The Plimsouls
Any Ole Stretch Of Blacktop – Shenandoah
On Every Street – Dire Straits
Come A Long Way – Simple Minds
(interlude: Back To The Future, revisited)
Western Lights – Simon Bonney
coda: Road – Nick Drake