My Various Driving Playlists [Archive]
Featuring music fit for all driving conditions, and all moods
I, like many people, like to listen to music when I drive. But “driving” is a very relative state of being. One moment I might be winding down beautiful backroads. Soon I may find myself revving my engine at a red light. And then there are times where I’m stuck in traffic, and simply need a pick me up.
In other words, my music depends on my mood.
A quick scroll through all the playlists.
To account for all those different moods, I have many different playlists, each with clever names and cars to match the tone. That way I can just tell Siri to shuffle ____ and boom, it’s shuffled (although my iPhone is somewhat finicky with my car every couple of months thanks to Apple’s software updates).
I figured since I have nothing else to do today other than listen to music that I’d tell you about my playlists, their origins, and what mood they’re supposed to encompass.
It all started in my Junior year of high school. I was in an art class that nobody really cared about (you had to take at least 2, so I took this and theater later on). It was incredibly disruptive and the teacher did her best to control the room, but nobody listened or cared. We sat in tables of four, and three of the other guys I were with couldn’t give a rat’s —- about the class, doing the bare minimum on every assignment. They were cool guys, but I liked doing art. It’s therapeutic. So I plugged in my headphones and kept to myself.
At first, I listened to YouTube 80's Mixes, specifically the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, but once I learned that my dad had Apple Music, I mooched off him, and still do to this day.
That day, The Best of The Best was born.
Junior year was the year I got my license, so from the get-go I was jonesing to get a car. At the time, my dream car was a mid-2000s Volvo XC70. What can I say? I liked the shape of the car, and I knew my mother would like the safety (though it would’ve been slightly dated). We discovered problems with them later on and I’ve grown less fond of it as time goes by (and more fond of my SportWagon), but it’s still a car I’d like to own just to know what it’s like to drive.
The Best of The Best is where I threw all the music I liked so that, during class, I could just hit shuffle and go about my entire school day (I had about 7 hours of music that I liked already at the time, so it wasn’t hard to dig up enough music to last a school day).
Oddly enough, the next playlist to be created was The Best of The Beach, simply because spring break approached and I was heading to the beach. I threw some Bob Marley stuff in there and called it, that way I could lounge in peace. The playlist has grown, and I’m excited to use it again in a couple of weeks.
After that, I just kept adding music to The Best of The Best and listening to that. I got my license and, at first, only listened to that one playlist. But it dawned on me while resting at a stoplight as Ace of Spades blasted in my speakers that certain driving would require certain moods. If I wasn’t feeling energetic, why listen to Motorhead when Stevie Wonder fits the mood much better? The playlists Cruiser’s Choice and Speedster’s Suggestion were created to bridge that gap.
It took me about two hours to sort through all my music and divide it into those two categories, but it was a start. Soon after that I added The Night Prowler’s Preference as a subdivision of The Cruiser’s Choice for when I was cruising down highways in the dead of night, or just feeling cool, maybe even a bit edgy (The Night Prowler’s Preference has more songs with swear words in them, since swear words are cool).
But soon after that, a new problem arose: passengers. Don’t get me wrong, I love driving people around, but people who watch as I shuffle a playlist and land on some obscure little ditty like Enter Sandman, Baby Got Back, or Gangsta’s Paradise might get a bit concerned, and rightfully so. I was also sick of skipping song after song while my parents were in the car because of some naughty language. This, among other things, sparked the creation of The Best of The Sensible and The Best of The Appropriate.
The two playlists have the same goal in mind: not scare the passengers. But I had to take into account two different kinds of passengers: people I knew well enough to play some wacky songs, and people who’d never been in my car before.
The Best of The Sensible is a playlist designed for friends who I know well enough, but don’t want to expose to the true evil that is The Best of The Best. This also helped for anyone who wasn’t too keen of swear words in rap songs and stuff like that, it provided a buffer from my more sexual, less appropriate music.
Then there’s The Best of The Appropriate, which is a great playlist with songs from the 60s to early 2000s hits. Good, honest nostalgia lies in that playlist, and if I’m ever in the mood to hear something classic I’ll flip that playlist on and let memories come flooding back. This playlist is also great with kids (I used to babysit), I can teach them about classic rock without exposing them to anything that’d make me look like a bad influence (even though I probably am a bad influence).
The vehicle selection for each of these playlists was simple: The Subaru Outback was another dream car, though it was too old for my mother's standards, and the Acura TSX (which is my car now) is sensible enough to bridge the gap between suicidally unsafe and too expensive.
A couple other playlists came to be around this time as well. Gangster Grooves, which is a playlist full of hard rap and edgy techno, was for when I wanted to feel cool or tough. Great for workouts, though I very rarely work out. The Best of The Boyfriend was created by me, my best friend, and my dad by going through every song in The Best of The Best and deciding if it’d be a good song to play on a date... haven’t had the chance to use that one yet, though sometimes I listen to it when I’m feeling blue just because most of the songs on there are slow and sweet.
These core playlists lasted me a good while, pretty much through my Senior year, and both I and my passengers were always happy (unless I was speeding, which I liked to do, but I was happy). But all the playlists I’d created thus far were mood-based, but none of them catered to a specific type or genre, and one day, while I was bored out of my mind listening to music, I decided to sort my songs based on category. These were the playlists created to sort songs by tempo:
These playlists were created to sort songs by style:
Though some of them catered to certain moods, all of them were formed so that I could differentiate songs and really hone in on what I wanted to listen to.
Reminiscing Rides is full of slow songs that made me think or were tied to certain memories and stories, whereas Jumping Jives is bombastic and groovy, chock-full of songs that make me tap my feet at the very least. They certainly play off of whatever mood I’m in, but they’re also good in different driving situations. I wouldn’t blast dance music I’d recently discovered while driving through my old childhood neighborhood.
The other three that were created were solely sorted by style. If it sounded or felt like, a certain genre, it went in.
Techno Trax is pretty self explanatory. Any music with some sort of digital sound, from synth to dubstep, is in. That playlist is flooded with awesome remixes of certain video game songs (if you’ve played a video game ever, you ought to listen to Qumu).
Anarchist’s Album is for everything rock and roll. It’s the playlist I want bumping as I blast a car through the Bonneville Salt Flats. It’s an apocalypse ready playlist, built for anarchy and speed.
The Instrumental Interstate playlist is by far the newest of all of these, having been created just last November. Since I’m going after a degree in Creative Writing, it’s counterproductive to listen to music with lyrics while I write. This one just helps me get the brain juices flowing, but is also cool to just hum along to.
Then there’s the Absurdist’s Arrangement. Songs like the Thomas the Tank Engine theme, Darude Sandstorm, The Hamster Dance, anything from the cinematic masterpiece Shrek, and other meme songs reside here. This is a playlist that rarely sees the light of day but is worth its digital weight in gold whenever I’m just feeling goofy.
I can’t put a date on the remaining two playlists, they’re older than Jumping Jives, but not as old as The Best of The Beach, and they’re each kind of odd in and of themselves.
Songs for the Snow is, quite obviously, Christmas music. You’ve got your classics that were derived from old Christmas movies, then you got some from movies like The Polar Express (which is my favorite Christmas movie just FYI), all mixed in with a few obscure songs from the mind of Jimmy Buffett, or other underrated classics such as Dominick the Donkey and Crabs for Christmas. That playlist is restricted SOLELY to the month of December and any snow day that occurs between January and March (Thanksgiving is a holiday too), though I didn’t have to worry about any snow days this year.
Songs for the Sky isn’t when I slap some wings on a car and take off, it’s for music when I’m flying. I loved to fly as a kid, I have family members who are pilots so there were some opportunities every now and again to get airborne. Thing is, I had an iPod touch around the time I started really listening to music, and for whatever reason, whenever I got on a plane, I’d queue up music from the Despicable Me franchise (at the time it was just the first two). For some reason, that habit stuck, and now I have a full playlist of music from the Despicable Me movies. Old habits die hard I guess.
Hours upon hours of work have been put in to concoct this auditory arrangement and organize it in my own, unique way. Every playlist is positioned perfectly so that I know exactly how many times I have to scroll in order to get to the playlist I want. I handpicked the cars for each playlist, these are the ones I know:
Best of the Best: Volvo XC70
Best of the Sensible: Acura TSX Sportwagon (hey, that's my car!)
Best of the Appropriate: Subaru Outback
Best of the Beach: Fiat 500
Night Prowler's Preference: Ford Mustang (1965, in honor of my dad)
Speedster's Suggestion: Acura Integra
Instramental Interstate: Freightliner
Remeniscing Rides: Bentley Continental
Songs for the Sky: Taylor Aerocar N-101D
That leaves the remaining playlists a total mystery to me. If you can figure out what they are, I'll give you a virtual, socially distanced high five:
- Cruiser’s Choice
- Gangster’s Grooves
- Jumping Jives
- Songs for the Snow
- The Absurdist’s Arrangement (Perhaps it’s a Peel?)
I’ve never met anyone who has such an elaborate collection of playlists, nor do I think that’s a bad thing. My methods tend to be viewed as “overkill,” “unnecessary,” or “odd.” Regardless, I’d love to hear what you all listen to and how you tend to handle it, and I’m always searching for musical suggestions so if you have any feel free to share.