Driving with the Windows Down Playlist


- Troy Hatfield

The really hot weather seems to have expired here in Michigan.  That means I can start driving with the windows down again.  Since I have no need to try and preserve a good hair day, I really enjoy the cross breeze while I’m operating a motor vehicle.

This activity and time of year typically calls for another edition of my “Driving-With-The-Windows-Down Playlist.”  Nick Hornby, in his modern classic High Fidelity, does his best to try and give “rules” for a good mix tape.  I’ve tried to follow his lead and give myself a few “rules” for a good DWtWD Playlist.

1)  The songs don’t necessarily have to be my favorite.  This isn’t a best-of mix of tunes.  This collection of songs differs from the “Songs-I-Wish-I-Wrote” or “Everyone-Alive-Should-Know-These-Songs” playlists.  

2)  The songs should be fast – at the very least considered “upbeat.”  While the songs are playing, I should be tempted to press the accelerate pedal closer to the floorboard.  

3)  The songs should be, for the most part, in major keys.  

4)  Ideally, I’d be drumming on the steering wheel every time the car stops.  So I like to include songs that have fun drum patterns for me to imitate.  I’m shocked by the kick drum sound I can get from my Saturn VUE’s steering wheel. 

5)  There need to be sections of these songs that I want to sing at the top of my lungs, risking permanent vocal damage.  

6)  Finally, if all the above “requirements” have been fulfilled, I should be tempted to keep driving, regardless of the gas that is being wasted.    

After a few variations (and drives), I’ve settled on this season’s playlist.  Here is a variation of that playlist, taking into account the songs that are not available on Spotify, which lags behind a little on some of the Brit Rock I am obsessed with.  While I offer my deepest apologies to the environment, I hope that these songs encourage you to drive a few extra times around the block, with the volume turned up and the windows rolled down.


DWtWD Playlist on Spottify

DWtWD Playlist on iTunes 

“Hurricane”  –  Athlete  (a slower start, but gets things started in the right direction)

“Don’t Let Go”  –  Weezer  (RAWK!!)

“5 Chords”  –  The Dears  (my favorite Canadian band, not afraid to stretch pop music’s standard form)

“Ashes”  –  Embrace  (Brit Rock anthem at its finest and most optimistic)

“Dreams”  –  The Cranberries  (on my wife’s playlist for sure – it’s a good choice!  I drum this song the entire 4:32)

“Hysteria”  –  Muse  (a little dark, but I have to watch my speed when it’s on.  Also a good tune for a running playlist)

“Alive & Amplified”  –  The Mooney Suzuki  (silly and schizophrenic – I love it)

“Is This Love?”  –  Clap Your Hands Say Yeah  (I’ve loved this song since it came out in 2005 – swirling vocals that border on phsycadelic)

 “Dashboard”  –  Modest Mouse  (quirky songwriters with one of the most engaging lead singers I’ve ever seen live)

“Live Your Life”  –  Yuna  (maybe a tad slow, but this song really inspires me.  An R&B break from all the guitar rock)

“Concrete Bed”  –  Nada Surf  (one of my favorite college bands who refuse to go away)

“Let’s Go Surfing”  –  The Drums  (modern indie – who doesn’t like whistling?!)

“Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me”  –  The Pipettes  (British girl “band” who sound like they’re from the 60s)

“Live Those Days Tonight”  –  Friendly Fires  (very rhythmic invitation to live the present moment)

“Lonely Boy”  –  The Black Keys  (if you’ve not seen the video for this song, pull over immediately and look for it)

“Kick, Push”  –  Lupe Fiasco  (maybe rap’s best story-teller with a song about skateboarding)

“You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb”  –  Spoon  (I recommend every Spoon song – the horns on this track helped it be included)

“Tongue Tied” –  Grouplove  (hipsters love this song and I can’t argue with them)

“Ruby”  –  Kaiser Chiefs  (prolific Brits who use nonsense syllables better than anyone with an infectious chorus)

“Zero”  –  Yeah Yeah Yeahs  (a little dark again, but Karen O’s singing gets me going – this song sounds like it could have been in Bladerunner)

“Graveyard Girl”  –  M83  (this modern song reminds me of my favorite 80s guitar bands in every good way)

“Tesla Girls”  –  Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark  (one of my favorite 80s synthpop bands – I suggest listening to this track on cassette tape)

“Back In Your Head”  –  Tegan and Sara  (grrrl rock from Cananda that makes me want to be a drummer in a girl band)

“Canned Heat”  –  Jamiroquai  (modern disco complete with the fake strings – I love it without shame)


Troy is Lead Worship Pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, MI, where he’s been on staff since 2004. A musician, Anglophile, voracious reader and owner of more black clothing than anyone he knows, Troy has also recently married Lis, a violinist and lover of every member of the animal kingdom. Follow Troy on twitter @tr0yisbald.