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Teenage Dreams and Divine Wonder: Carrie Brownstein's Top 5 Driving Songs

Summer road trips are a time for both celebration and meditation. There's an urgent need to be free and explore, while also blocking out the rest of the world and getting lost in wistful daydreams. For Carrie Brownstein, former guitarist for Sleater-Kinney and host of NPR's Monitor Mix blog, nothing captures these moments better than the following five songs.

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The Go-Betweens

The song conjures those expansive teenage dreams but revisited later in life; it's like one of those 1950s tunes about open roads, love, and automobiles. Yet The Go-Betweens add the outsider perspective; the tale takes place in spring, not in summer, like the American version surely would. Disappointment lurks just under the surface, which makes the moments of contentment and wonder all the more divine.


Greg Sage pioneered the sense of urgency that coursed through Northwest punk. This song has a catchy riff, surf-inspired and blithe, but the vocals interrupt the calm, propelling the song into an agitated state that feels on the verge of breaking until the guitar part resets the mood.

Music Go Music

I recently received this 12" single in the mail. Listening to the song for the first time was the equivalent of turning all the lights on in my house. The dark Portland day brightened, my furniture sparkled, and I wanted to keep playing it over and over to keep the shadows at bay.

Richard & Linda Thompson

Sex, ice cream, drugs. What is this song about? The lyrics touch on mystery, folly, and desire, while the guitar part repeats after each verse, growing more alluring and seductive each time.

Cal Tjader

Part of any drive is to lose sight of the interior mechanism, to only notice the external, to feel what it means to pass something by. For this hypnosis, you need an instrumental; a soundtrack to support the commentary in your head, but also to inspire it.