The Playlist Series: 20 tunes for your work commute

Taylor Swift

If there’s any time when you really need the empathetic power of music, it’s when you’re stuck in traffic.

A normal commute can be infuriating enough. But then an accident, construction or some other curveball arises, leaving you steaming while stationary in your vehicle beside thousands of other mad, motionless motorists.

See also: The Playlist Series: 20 hits for designated drivers

Songs can make you feel like someone out there understands your plight, remind you why you put up with this terrible drive five days a week and allow you to vent your road rage without resorting to senseless violence. So, if you find yourself in need of some or all of these functions, check out our commute soundtrack. We’ve gone for a range of eras and genres, so hopefully we’ve included selections that help ease your daily drive.

Commuters, start your playlist

  1. “Crosstown Traffic,” by Jimi Hendrix. OK, Jimi wasn't really talking about actual traffic here, but this song is too perfect for your commute.
  2. “Once in a Lifetime,” by the Talking Heads. "And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile," for hours and hours and hours.
  3. “Airbag,” by Radiohead. It's rare to find a song about auto safety technology. "In a fast German car. I'm amazed that I survived. An airbag saved my life."
  4. “Shake It Off," by Taylor Swift. Whenever you feel that road rage coming on, remember the sage advice of Taylor Swift and shake it off.
  5. “Sabotage,” by the Beastie Boys. If just shaking it off doesn’t work, try shouting along with the Beasties’ Ad-Rock on this cathartic hit.
  6. “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” by the Smashing Pumpkins. Another good song for venting to. "Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage." Sound familiar? At least your cage has a stereo system and air conditioning.
  7. “Folsom Prison Blues,” by Johnny Cash. Cash wrote about Folsom Prison while in the Air Force. But your commute might also seem like hard time.
  8. “Comfortably Numb,” by Pink Floyd. This may be how you feel after that second hour in stop-and-go traffic.
  9. “I Wanna Be Sedated,” by the Ramones. Have you considered how pharmaceuticals might improve your commute experience?
  10. “Panic Song,” by Green Day. "Ready for a cheap escape, on the brink of self destruction ... the world is a sick machine ... I wanna jump out." Yeah, there's a cheery message for your commute and workday.
  11. “9 to 5,” by Dolly Parton. "What a way to make a livin'" indeed. Thanks Dolly!
  12. “White Collar Holler,” by Stan Rogers. A sea shanty about office life? Yes, please.
  13. “Money for Nothing,” by Dire Straits. "We gotta install microwave ovens, custom kitchen deliveries. We gotta move these refrigerators. We gotta move these color TVs." They know what you go through every day. 
  14. “(Rap) Superstar,” by Cypress Hill. "You don't know about the blood sweat and tears." Work is work, apparently, even if you’re a rap superstar.
  15. “Money Maker,” Ludacris, featuring Pharrell. "I keep my mind on my money, money on my mind." Just keep thinking about the paycheck while you're stuck in traffic to and from work.
  16. “Big Time,” by Peter Gabriel. "My car is getting bigger. My house is getting bigger." It's all worth it, right?
  17. “The Suburbs,” by Arcade Fire. Another reminder of why you put up with the commute, maybe.
  18. “Working for the Weekend,” by Loverboy. A Canadian '80s hit about what it's all for.
  19. “Suit and Tie,” by Justin Timberlake. OK, going to work doesn't seem to be the use for a suit and tie Justin Timberlake had in mind. But maybe you can take better advantage of your sharp attire tonight.
  20. “You Can't Always Get What You Want,” by the Rolling Stones. In other words, be happy with your lot in life and keep your eyes on the road.

That’s it. Feel free to take what you like and add in other songs to build your own personalized commute playlist. We’ve surely missed some good ones. Oh, and stay safe and sane out there. The freeways are full of frazzled, demented drivers.

See also: The Playlist Series: 20 tunes for your road trip

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