Ten Film Soundtracks and Scores to Drive To During the Summer


Is it the silliest idea to put on a film score while you drive? A film soundtrack makes more sense, especially if it is a compilation of popular (or original) songs. A score is a bit more questionable; unless you are a major fanatic of a particular film or score, just putting one on for the hell of it doesn’t quite make sense. Either way, summer is almost officially here, but the weather is already clearing up and preparing for the three month period. Why not spice up your drives a little bit by using film soundtracks and scores? You deserve to make your trip to the supermarket as epic as possible. This is by no means a definitive list, and not a “best of” list by any means. These are just ten suggestions. What the hell? They may work.


Super Fly: Driving on a Mission
If you have to go to work, or run any particular errand. Why not take advantage of the summer heat, and the go-to attitude you’re probably seeking to go do things you dread? Here, you have a funk and soul staple with Curtis Mayfield’s iconic soundtrack. With some tasty grooves and booming rhythm, you may actually enjoy having to take part in adult chores and tasks.


Trainspotting: Highway Driving
Summer driving calls for those special highway zooms. If you have a sweet tooth for nostalgia, this Trainspotting compilation is stuffed with both ‘90s gems (britpop, trip hop, the works) and rock classics (especially Iggy Pop). Each song will soak up the sun and the time around you, and the drive will be even more special than it already was.


The Last Picture Show: Countryside Driving
If you really want to embrace the openness of countryside driving, putting on this country and folk soundtrack will really put you in the mood. Featuring many signature artists (including the many mentions of country legend Hank Williams), the soundtrack for The Last Picture Show was meant to showcase the void left by a dying small town. During your travels, it can also become the soothing voice you may need to hear.


The Graduate: On the Way to a Quaint Event
If you are going to an event that means something, but is hardly one you’d need to be amped up for (local festivals, family affairs), this personable soundtrack might suit you well. You have a smaller scale score, followed by many folk rock numbers by Simon and Garfunkel. Nothing here is too large in scale, yet many volumes are spoken. It’s just enough sound to enjoy, and it may keep you in a peaceful mindset.


Tron: Legacy: On the Way to a Major Event
On the other hand, if you want to really hype yourself up, the Tron: Legacy score by Daft Punk might be your ticket. What sets this somewhat traditional score apart from many others is the inclusion of ambitious house numbers that try to match the heaviness of the orchestral tracks. A mixture of the two might make sense on the way to a huge sporting event, or something else of that magnitude.


Drive: Nighttime City Driving
This one is a bit too easy, but it’s because it makes so much sense. If you want to feel introspective, yet you also want to ingest all of the city life during the darkest hours, you can’t go wrong with the assortment found on the Drive soundtrack. So many neo disco songs (including a few Italians Do It Better alumni), and an original score by Cliff Martinez. You may want to go out in the evening just to enjoy this mood.


Call Me By Your Name: Lengthy Driving in the Rain
What’s nice about this soundtrack is the variety, especially when you know you have a long trek to do during these miserable weather conditions. You have mellowing and thought provoking classical numbers. You also have retro tracks to spin things around a little bit. Finally, you have Sufjan Stevens, who merges all of these sounds together by providing a personable connection to the entire picture. You won’t have to put up with one style for a while, and you also won’t have to put on another playlist for a while either.


The Virgin Suicides: Heading to the Beach
This Air composition is truly something else. Where does it work the best? On the way to the blistering beach, of course. The ambient moments mimic the scorching breezes (cool breezes work, too, if you must). The mixture of electronic sounds and physical instruments makes for the kind of blend that just makes sense on a beach, especially since the combinations are so peaceful and upbeat at the same time. You can also leave the beach with the same music, as it allows for reminiscing as much as it inspires excitement.


Dead Man: Sunrise or Sunset Music
Some people can get away with making up stuff on the spot. Neil Young is one of those artists. He may have put together the Dead Man score while literally watching the film, but it also allows for so much open space. It’s noisy, yet ambient as well. It just seems like a great accompaniment to when you’ve been out for a while (and the sun sets), or when you’ve been out way too late (and the sun rises). On the other hand, if you have woken up and have to make a mission in the wee hours, this could be a great playlist to have on to start your day as the sun first hits you.


Purple Rain: Any Drive with Friends
Look. I will make lists featuring musicals. We had to include one. The one that made the most sense was Purple Rain. So many people love to jam out to Prince songs. It’s one of those albums where you all can do your worst karaoke work before you even reach the bar. Of course, you can swap any other musical of any nature for this spot, but this opus by Prince still ranks as one of the best soundtracks nonetheless. Plus, is there ever a bad time to listen to Prince?

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Andreas Babiolakis has a Masters degree in Film and Photography Preservation and Collections management from Ryerson University, as well as a Bachelors degree in Cinema Studies from York University. His favourite times of year are the Criterion Collection flash sales and the annual Toronto International Film Festival.