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Jared Whitley: Here's your summer road trip playlist

With about one-third of summer 2017 left, there's a good chance you're trying to squeeze in a little more vacation time ere the leaves start to change. Perhaps you’ve been saving a big family vacation for August, or Labor Day weekend in southern Utah or just a day trip somewhere.

Regardless, we want to make sure that you’re covered as far as tunes go. Therefore, we have put together our top list of songs to listen to while traveling long distances — perfect for summer trips.

Note that because songs are usually written by musicians (bizarrely enough), there’s a tendency for them to write these songs specifically about being on tour, but they’re still plenty accessible for us non-traveling minstrel types.

Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver, 1971)

We’re starting with an obvious one. But c’mon. When this song starts in the car, everyone is going to start singing, lose themselves in the verse and then join back with the chorus.

Aside: the Blue Ridge Mountains Denver sings about, while nice in their own way, pale in comparison to the Rockies.

Movin’ Right Along (F. Bear and K. Frog, 1979)

Yes, obviously I am going to put a song by the Muppets on this list. Frank Oz’s Fozzie and Jim Henson’s Kermit are not, technically, the best singers in the world — but they’re not supposed to be. And sometimes less-talented singers are easier for the rest of us to sing along with.

Super Trouper (Abba, 1980)

The idea here is that the singer’s love interest is her No. 1 fan and she can’t wait to sing for him. I defy anyone who listens to this to not end up singing along with at least the “supa-pa trou-pa-pa” on the chorus.

This song beautifully illustrates Abba’s language skills. A trouper is, Merriam Webster tells us, both a member of a theatrical group and a person who endures hardship without complaint. No native English-speaker would ever really use the antiquated word. But Abba would — their English is immaculately precise while still foreign. After all, these guys wrote all their songs in Sweden, not London, New York or L.A.

Life Is A Highway (Tom Cochrane, 1991)

Any road trip playlist has to include this tune — the title says it all. One-hit wonder Tom Cochrane’s singing is virtually impossible to follow on the verse, but “Life is a highway / I want to ride it all night long” is one of the great all-time hooks in rock history.

The song is a bit of a cliché, which is fine for pop music, so much so that they made it Michael Scott’s go-to road song for an episode of "The Office" in 2008.

Faithfully (Journey, 1983)

While this one doesn’t use “highway” in the title, it guarantees a spot on a road-tripping playlist since “highway” is its first word. The song captures the band’s touring loneliness while simultaneously assuring the singer’s lady that, while he’s on a road full of temptation, he will remain … faithful.

Fun fact: Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain wrote the song and credits its success to his Christian faith. (The clue might be the first five letters of the title.) If the Mormon Tabernacle Choir would ever like to invite Cain to be a guest conductor, that could be pretty amazing. Seriously, you just change a couple words in “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “Open Arms” and they’re basically Christian rock.

Home Sweet Home (Mötley Crüe, 1985)

While not a lot of songs from the Crüe are appropriate to include on a Deseret News list, this iconic ’80s power ballad absolutely is. (Don’t worry, I reread the lyrics and rewatched the video to make sure.) With its distinct opening piano riff, from the band’s drummer no less, it tells the melancholy tale of a lonely journey. But it’s not just his alone, he assures the listener: “Just take this song and you’ll never feel / left all alone.”

Note that the band’s 1991 redo of the song is even better than the original. a recent protracted, three-week trip, I found this song kept coming back to my mind. On the long, lonely flights and drives would I have appreciated someone to assure that “I’m on my way / Just set me free / home sweet home.” Alas, I just had Vince Neil and the rest of the Crüe for company — which was good enough, because I never felt left all alone.

And hopefully on your remaining days of summer travel, you won’t either.