Come here, baby. We’re going to turn the lights down low, spark up a stick of Nag Champa and slow things down a bit. Maybe you’d like to slip into something a little more comfortable? Go ahead, baby. Kick off that workaday world pantsuit and shimmy into that velvet number you’ve been saving for a special occasion. That’s right, mama—nighttime is the right time for letting it all hang out.
No, we’re not trying to seduce your old lady—we’re simply setting the mood before discussing 5 of our all-time favorite slow driving songs. Feeling mellow? Maybe a tad lugubrious? Good. You’re ready to read on.
Nick Drake: Pink Moon
The perfect listening conditions: It’s midnight, the witching hour, and you’re meandering down a curvy road through a glen thick with old-growth trees. Every few hundred feet or so, there’s enough gap in the leafy canopy to give you a clear look at the full moon looming over your head. The glances are fleeting, so you don’t mind easing off the accelerator a tad.
Billy Bragg & Wilco: California Sun
The perfect listening conditions: It’s dusk on a Thursday afternoon, the day after you quit a job that was driving you to hate humanity and left a relationship that was sucking out your soul one needling nag at a time. Rather than linger around town, you decide to jettison everything that can’t fit in the backseat of your Datsun and seek your fortune working the Santa Cruz boardwalk.
Iron & Wine: Someday the Waves
The perfect listening conditions: It’s sunrise on a sleepy Sunday in May, and you’re inching your way up the gravel driveway leading to your house. You’re in the car trying to work out the perfect way to express your remorse and contrition; your wife’s in bed hoping that you made good on your rye-soaked promises and are halfway to St. Louis by now. It’s the longest 50 yards you’ve had to drive all year.
The Jesus & Mary Chain: Just Like Honey
The perfect listening conditions: It’s noon on an unseasonably dry August afternoon in downtown Tokyo, and you’re in the backseat of a Toyota Century bound for Narita International Airport. Traffic is snarled, as usual, and you happen to glance out into a bustling crowd and notice the girl you wished you had kissed but didn’t—the slender slope of her neck is inescapable. Departure time be damned, you fling open the door and rush out to test destiny.
The Kinks: Strangers
The perfect listening conditions: It’s quitting time at the factory on a blustery autumnal Friday, and you’re driving down to the elementary school to pick up your common-law wife before heading out on a weekend trip up to Vermont to pick fresh apples and collect fresh-fallen leaves. The two of you might be getting on in years, and your Chevy may have a few patches of rust around the wheel wells, but the pain of decay is dulled by your tenderness.