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Road Songs: Top 10 Touring Tunes

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For as long as rock bands have been living out of suitcases and inside tour buses, they’ve been writing songs about it. With the summer touring season just around the corner, Noisecreep has put together a list of the 10 best songs about living your rock ‘n’ roll dream out on the open road. We’ve included an array of styles and genres, but every song on this list would make a killer addition to any road trip or tour bus mix.

10. ‘Return of the Warlord’
Manowar (1996)

Manowar love touring, beer, fighting, and most of all, heavy metal. On ‘Return of the Warlord’ they talk about all of these things and do it with a collective middle finger pointed right at their detractors. Lyrically speaking, this is the power metal version of ‘Wanted Dead or Alive.’

9. ‘Gypsy Road’
Cinderella (1988)

The video for this song came out during the time when ‘Dial MTV’ and hard rock ruled the airwaves. Back then, it was mandatory for bands like Cinderella to release videos that featured momentous montages of live performances and dudes looking spent on tour buses. Sure, it got to be a bit clichéd, but we’d be lying if we said we didn’t want to be in one of those clips.

8. ‘Touring’
The Ramones (1992)

Taken off their criminally overlooked ‘Mondo Bizarro’ album, ‘Touring’ was the Ramones ode to their worldwide fanbase. During the blue collar, Queens, NY-based group’s career, they played an awe-inspiring 2,263 concerts, touring virtually nonstop for 22 years. We have a feeling if the guys were still alive they’d be somewhere setting up for a soundcheck right now.

7. ‘Whiplash’
Metallica (1983)

‘Whiplash’ finds a younger Metallica full of p— and vinegar and firing on all cylinders. Throughout its four minutes of unadulterated thrash, James Hetfield lets the listener know the whipping they can expect at one of their shows. Anyone who was lucky enough to catch Metallica on one of their early club tours knows that Hetfield’s threats were not idle.

6. ‘Heading Out to the Highway’
Judas Priest (1981)

When it comes to commandments of album making, it’s clear that Judas Priest truly understands the art of the opening track. The first song on their near-perfect ‘Point of Entry’ opus, ‘Heading Out to the Highway’ features one of the meatiest guitar riffs of their career. But it’s the lyrics that read like a love letter to the freedom of the open road that lands the track on our list.

5. ‘(We Are) the Road Crew’
Motörhead (1980)

This list wouldn’t be complete without Lemmy’s tribute to the unsung heroes of the touring ecosystem, ‘(We Are) the Road Crew.’ The Motörhead frontman knew a thing or two about the subject — in the late ’60s, Lemmy roadied for none other than the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The second verse in the song says it all: “I’m eating junk, feeling bad / another night, I’m going mad / my woman’s leaving, I’m feeling sad.”

4. ‘Faithfully’
Journey (1983)

‘Faithfully’ tells the story of a musician trying to keep a romantic relationship going at home while he’s out on tour. Journey‘s Jonathan Cain wrote the lyrics to the song while he was still married to his first wife, singer Tané McClure, and he clearly didn’t have to look far for inspiration. Some of you might scoff at the inclusion of ‘Faithfully’ in this feature, but its lyrics, along with the video’s “we’re out on tour and this isn’t all it’s cracked out to be” style, proved to be influential in the hard rock scene years later.

3. ‘Wasted Years’
Iron Maiden (1986)

From its dramatic guitar intro to the glorious chorus refrain that closes it out, ‘Wasted Years’ is a pure thrill ride. Written by Adrian Smith, the anthemic song is a staple in Maiden‘s live show and has become one of their most beloved numbers. When Bruce Dickinson starts off the first verse by singing, “From the coast of gold / across the seven seas,” you can’t help but throw your devil horns in the air and sing along with him.

2. ‘Home Sweet Home’
Mötley Crüe (1985)

Another song on the list written from the point of view of a musician on the road, ‘Home Sweet Home’ has been covered many times throughout the years, but Mötley Crüe‘s original version remains the definitive version. When Vince Neil croons, “Take me to your heart / feel me in your bones,” you can almost picture an arena of Bic lighters raised in unison.

1. ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’
Bon Jovi (1986)

Using the Old West as a metaphor, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora wrote this power ballad about the life on the road of a rock band and created a modern standard in the process. No other song captures the “us against the world” spirit of the touring lifestyle like ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ does. During their career together, Bon Jovi have laid countless arenas to waste. That’s what makes the line in the song, “I’ve seen a million faces and I’ve rocked them all,” so damn believable.

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