Follow My Sorry Ass

Family Roadtrip Playlists That Don’t Suck

Millennial Parent Playlists for Family Listening 

*Most of these songs are available on Pandora, Spotify, and other music streaming services.

Babies, Toddlers, & Preschoolers

And I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
There's more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
Closer I am to fine
-Indigo Girls, Closer to Fine

Are you road tripping with the family but your listening style is more Barracuda than Baby Beluga? Driving long distances with young kids is intolerable enough without listening to KidzBop 2 all the livelong day. Here’s some PG-rated, journey-of-the-heart themed music that doesn’t totally blow; this is a playlist that’s cool but not embarrassing when your kid sings it all at preschool. 

Me with our first four kids in 2014.

Ventura Highway (America)

Gone ‘Til November (Wyclef Jean)

Tree Hugger  (Antsy Pants)

I Heard it Through the Grapevine (Credence Clearwater Revival)

Back to You (John Mayer)

The Edge of Glory (Lady Gaga)

Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac)

Escapade (Janet Jackson)

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (Paul Simon)

A Sorta Fairytale (Tori Amos)

Island in the Sun (Weezer)

Hand in my Pocket (Alanis Morissette)

Oh, Sweet Nuthin’ (The Velvet Underground)

Go Deep (Janet Jackson)

Babylon (David Gray)

Umbrella (Rihanna)

Your Wildest Dreams (The Moody Blues)

Is This Love? (Bob Marley and the Wailers)

Brown Eyed Girl (Van Morrison)

Once in a Lifetime (Talking Heads)

A Horse With No Name (America)

Somebody That I Used to Know (Gotye)

California Dreamin’ (The Mamas and the Papas)

Tire Swing (Kimya Dawson)

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (Marvin Gaye)

Joy to the World (Three Dog Night)

Yellow Submarine (The Beatles)

Closer to Fine (Indigo Girls)

Everyday is a Winding Road  (Sheryl Crow)

Ain’t No Sunshine (Bill Withers)

Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road (Elton John)

If I Had $1000000 (Barenaked Ladies)

Build Me Up Buttercup (The Foundations)

I’m Sticking With You (The Velvet Underground)

Gypsy (Fleetwood Mac)

Beat It (Michael Jackson)

The Sweater Song  (Weezer)

Nothin’ on You (B.O.B.)

I Want to Know What Love Is (Foreigner)

Cherry Bomb (The Runaways)

For the Longest Time (Billy Joel)

Forever (Ben Harper)

I Had a Rooster (John Lithgow)

I Miss You (Blink-182)

Wheel in the Sky (Journey)

Rush Rush (Paula Abdul)

Life is a Highway (Tom Cochrane)

Wish You Were Here (Incubus)

Say Goodbye (Dave Matthews Band)

Lucky (Jason Mraz)

This Land is Your Land (Woody Guthrie) 

Back Here (BBMak)

I Want You Back (The Jackson Five)

Out There (Sister Hazel)

Wagon Wheel (Darius Rucker)

Tonight, Tonight (The Smashing Pumpkins)

Stay Up Late (The Talking Heads)

Three Little Birds  (Bob Marley and the Wailers)

Good Riddance: Time of Your Life (Green Day)

America  (Simon and Garfunkel)

Take Me Home, Country Roads  (John Denver)

Elementary School-Aged Kids: Memes and Themes

A local boy kicked me in the butt last week
I just smiled at him, and I turned the other cheek 
I really don’t care, in fact I wish him well
‘Cause I’ll be laughing my head off, when he’s burning in Hell
-Weird AlAmish Paradise 

Wanna hear your six year old recite the preamble to the U.S. Constitution?  School-aged kids are rapidly approaching the golden age of appreciation for memes, theme songs, and just-plain-ol’ powerful moments in history and pop culture. And it’s never too early to start talking to your children about Rickrolling or the quirky hilarity of Weird Al.  Have a teachable moment of nostalgia with this fun playlist.

Never Gonna Give You Up  (Rick Astley)

Captain Planet Theme Song (Acapella) (The Warp Zone)

Sh-boom  (The Chords)

Smelly Cat—Version 5 (Friends Cast)

It’s Gonna Be Me  (*NSYNC)

My Favorite Things  (Julie Andrews)

Over the Rainbow  (Judy Garland)

Eye of the Tiger  (Survivor)

Someone Like You  (Adele)

Don’t Worry, Be Happy  (Bobby McFerrin)

Hallelujah  (Rufus Wainwright)

The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)  (Ylvis)

On the Road Again  (Willie Nelson)

Everything is Awesome (Tegan and Sara)

The Wells Fargo Wagon  (Buffalo Bills)

Fireflies (Owl City)

My Guy  (Mary Wells)

Friday  (Rebecca Black)

Bring Me to Life  (Evanescence)

Grease - From “Grease”  (Frankie Valli)

The Final Countdown  (Europe)

The Smurfs (TV Themes)

Respect  (Aretha Franklin)

Knight Rider  (Glen A. Larson and Stu Phillips)

Spiderwebs (No Doubt)

(I’ve Had) The Time of my Life  (Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes)

Fraggle Rock Theme Finale (Fraggle Rock)

Bohemian Rhapsody  (Queen)

I’m Just a Bill (Deluxxe Folk Implosion)

Part of Your World  (Jodi Benson)

Achy Breaky Heart  (Billy Ray Cyrus)

Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana)

Boss of Me  (They Might Be Giants)

You’re Standing on my Neck  (Honeyblood)

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (David Yazbek)

My Favorite Things  (Rogers & Hammerstein)

Can You Feel the Love Tonight?  (Elton John)

Take Me to the River  (Al Green)

I Don’t Want to Wait  (Paula Cole)

Happy  (Pharrell Williams)

I’ll Be There For You  (The Rembrandts)

White & Nerdy  (Weird Al Yankovic)

Golden Girls Theme Song  (Cindy Fee)

Telephone  (Lady Gaga)

Mission Impossible  (Lalo Schifrin)

Stayin’ Alive  (Bee Gees)

We Are the Champions (Queen)

Aquarius/Let the Sunshine in (5th Dimension)

Kiss From a Rose  (Seal)

Danger Zone  (Kenny Loggins)

Sweet Home Alabama (Second Helping)

A Whole New World (Aladdin’s Theme)  (Regina Belle and Peabo Bryson)

Rock Lobster  (The B-52’s)

Always Something There to Remind Me  (Naked Eyes)

Seasons of Love  (Gwen Stewart & others)

Time of the Season  (The Zombies)

If I Were a Rich Man  (Chaim Topol)

Heat of the Moment  (Asia)

Amish Paradise (Weird Al Yankovic)

The Ballad of Gilligan’s Island (George Wyle and Sherwood Schwartz)

Particle Man  (They Might Be Giants)

Love Shack (The B-52's)

Fight For Your Right (Beastie Boys)

The Preamble (Schoolhouse Rock)

Hungry Eyes (Eric Carmen)

Teenagers:  Reliving the Real ‘90’s Flavor

Marky got with Sharon, Sharon got Sherice
She was sharin’ Sharon’s outlook on the topic of disease
Mikey had a facial scar, and Bobby was a racist
They were all in love with dyin’, they were doin’ it in Texas
-Butthole Surfers, Pepper 

Do your teenagers think they’re into the edgy aesthetic of the nineties but have never heard of Lilith Fair or The Craft?  Anybody under 18 who’s currently in JNCOs and a baby tee is a squirrelly young person who needs to be schooled on the full ethos of the decade. Here’s a playlist for the enjoyment of all parties, and for when you’re forcing your teens to be in a car with you but you've been banned from listening to the Austin Powers soundtrack anymore.  Get ready to relive your acne-filled years.

"Ewww not that Divinyls song again Mom"

Kids in America  (The Muffs)

Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm (Crash Test Dummies)

Wait (Huffamoose)

Peaches (The Presidents of the United States of America)

November Rain (Guns N' Roses)

Whoomp (There it is)  (Tag Team)

Sweet Surrender  (Sarah McLachlan)

Comedown (Bush)

No Rain (Blind Melon)

You Were Meant For Me (Jewel)

Down (311)

Don’t Look Back in Anger (Oasis)

Can I Kick it?  (A Tribe Called Quest)

Crush (Dave Matthews Band)

My Friends (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Virtual Insanity  (Jamiroquai)

Heaven Beside You  (Alice in Chains)

Barbie Girl  (Aqua)

Everything is Everything  (Lauryn Hill)

Come As You Are  (Nirvana)

Water Runs Dry  (Boyz II Men)

One of Us  (Joan Osborne)

Sunday Morning  (No Doubt)

Criminal  (Fiona Apple)

Lovefool (The Cardigans)

Only Happy When it Rains  (Garbage)

Smoke Two Joints  (Sublime)

Not the Doctor (Alanis Morisette)

Whatta Man (Salt-N-Pepa)

Zombie (The Cranberries)

More Than Words (Extreme)

California Love (2pac feat Dr. Dre)

The World I Know (Collective Soul)

Don’t Cry (Seal)

The Impression That I Get (Mighty Mighty Bosstones)

Cryin’  (Aerosmith)

Cornflake Girl  (Tori Amos)

My Favorite Mistake (Sheryl Crow)

Bitch  (Meredith Brooks)

Mr. Jones  (Counting Crows)

Nothing Compares 2 U  (Sinead O’Connor)

Found Out About You  (Gin Blossoms)

Heal the World  (Michael Jackson)

Turn the Beat Around  (Gloria Estefan)

Longview (Green Day)

Friends in Low Places  (Garth Brooks)

What’s Up?  (4 Non Blondes)

Buddy Holly (Weezer) 

Livin’ La Vida Loca  (Ricky Martin)

How Will I Know?  (Whitney Houston)

Song 2  (Blur)

Pepper (Butthole Surfers)

I Don’t Want to Wait  (Paula Cole)

Are You That Somebody  (Aaliyah)

Genie in a Bottle  (Christina Aguilera)

Always Be My Baby (Mariah Carey)

My Heart Will Go On: Love Theme From “Titanic” (Celine Dion)

That’s the Way Love Goes (Janet Jackson)

Sick of Myself  (Matthew Sweet)

#41  (Dave Matthews Band)

Got Your Money  (Ol’ Dirty Bastard)

Say You’ll be There  (Spice Girls)

Tearin’ Up My Heart  (NSYNC)

All That She Wants  (Ace of Base)

Don’t Let Go  (En Vogue)

Amber (311)

Macarena  (Los Del Rio)

Colorblind (Counting Crows)

Welcome to Paradise (Green Day)

The One  (Elton John)

Long, Strange Trip:  Santa Cruz Local Flavor

Yes, you got your spell on me baby
Turning my heart into stone
I need you so bad, magic woman--
I can't leave you alone
-Santana, Black Magic Woman

Want to educate your kids on the ways of the coolest town on the planet?  Just to visit Santa Cruz, CA is to succumb to her spell. Nobody will admit it’s the best because that would mean attracting the yuppie masses and watering down its earthy-yet-salty vibe.  So if you can’t live here, listen here instead.  (Most of the "real" flavor of this place comes from its indie music, but as of right now you can't find too many local artists from Mountain Jam on Apple Music or Spotify; like the bumper sticker says, we’ll always need to Keep Santa Cruz Weird.)  It's a list that is part local bands, part mainstream music that speaks to the area's counterculture, psychedelia, and wonder for the natural world.

Santa Cruz  (Pearl Jam)

Here Comes the Sun (The Beatles)

Changes  (Tupac Shakur)

Dreamland (Bethany Curve)

(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay  (Otis Redding)

Black Betty  (Ram Jam)

People Are Strange  (The Doors)

One Way Out  (The Mother Hips)

Crystal Blue Persuasion (Tommy James and the Shondells)

Doin’ Time  (Sublime)

Sweetest One  (Redemption Sevenfold)

Bongo Bong  (Manu Chao)

Sinners and Their Repentances (Bon Mould)

Fire on the Mountain (The Grateful Dead)

Jupiter Spin (Cornelius Bumpus)

Listen to the Music (The Doobie Brothers)

Jerk  (Oliver Tree)

Doesn’t Get Better Than This  (Joy Williams)

Ipanema (Still Woozy)

Fortunate Son (Credence Clearwater Revival)

Talk to Me  (Redemption Sevenfold)

Reeling in the Years (Steely Dan)

You’re Running Wild  (Backyard Birds)

Wicked Garden (Stone Temple Pilots)

Chant a Psalm  (Steel Pulse)

Proud Mary (Credence Clearwater Revival)

The Swallow’s Eye (Comets on Fire)

A Song Around the Mountain*Peace Train  (Santa Cruz Mountains; various artists)

Down Down Down  (The Expendables)

Black Magic Woman  (Santana)

Carry On  (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)

Pumped Up Kicks  (Foster the People)

Ganja Smuggling  (Eek-a-Mouse)

Wild World  (Yusuf/Cat Stevens)

Vacation (Still Woozy)

Anyone Else But You  (The Moldy Peaches)

Burn One Down  (Ben Harper)

Rocky  (Still Woozy)

Cigarettes  (Oliver Tree)

White Room  (Cream)

Pool (Still Woozy)

Crimson and Clover  (Tommy James)

Summer Breeze  (Seals and Croft)

Under the Boardwalk  (The Drifters)

Cry Little Sister (Theme from The Lost Boys)  (McMahon)

Is This Love?  (Bob Marley and The Wailers)

If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out  (Cat Stevens)

*A Song Around the Mountain: Peace Train—it may be hard to find this one on a streaming music service, but at least look it up on YouTube to listen once!  It shows the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Substitute the Cat Stevens/Yusuf version if you can’t find the Mountain Jam one.

The Ugly Cry

Are you an expectant parent (or any parent) who needs a good, hard, ugly cry?  This is a whole playlist dedicated to pregnancy, loss, birth-related, and parenting themes. Some of these songs are originally addressed to romantic interests and other loved ones but still work when you’re singing them to your (lost, future, or already-earthside) angel. Waiting patiently for new lives to be launched into your orbit--or for your goddamned kids to leave you alone for eight whole minutes on a summer's afternoon-- can bring all the feels.

Sweet Baby James  (Carole King and James Taylor

Butterfly Kisses (Eric Clapton)

A New Day Has Come (Celine Dion)

I Say a Little Prayer  (Aretha Franklin)

Hey Jude  (The Beatles)

All My Life  (K-Ci & Jojo)

Ramblin’ Man (The Allman Brothers Band)

Higher Love  (Kygo and Whitney Houston)

Isn’t She Lovely?  (Stevie Wonder)

This I Promise You  (*NSYNC)

Tenderness on the Block  (Warren Zevon)

Always Be My Baby  (Mariah Carey)

Living’ on a Prayer  (Bon Jovi)

Just the Two of Us  (Will Smith)

God Must Have Spent (A Little More Time on You) (*NSYNC)

Tears in Heaven (Eric Clapton)

Ray of Light (Madonna)

What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)

Over the Rainbow (Israel Kamakawiwo’ole)

All My Love  (Led Zeppelin) 

Because You Loved Me  (Celine Dion)

Baby, Baby (Amy Grant)

Blurry (Puddle of Mudd)

Heal the World  (Michael Jackson)

Mama Said  (The Shirelles)

Wild World  (Cat Stevens)

My Girl (The Temptations)

Danny’s Song  (Loggins & Messina)

The Living Years  (Mike + The Mechanics)

Dear Mama  (Tupac Shakur)

I Got You Babe (Sonny & Cher)

The Most Beautiful Girl in the World  (Prince)

Cats in the Cradle (Harry Chapin)

Forever Young  (Bob Dylan)

Greatest Love of All  (Whitney Houston)

To Zion  (Lauryn Hill)

Sweet Caroline  (Neil Diamond)

Teach Your Children  (Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young)

Time After Time  (Cyndi Lauper)

Father and Son  (Yusuf/ Cat Stevens)

With Arms Wide Open  (Creed)

Show Me Love  (Robyn)

Mommas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys  (Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson)

I’ll Stand By You  (Pretenders)

One Call Away  (Charlie Puth)

I Hope You Dance  (Lee Ann Womack)

Ice Cream  (Sarah McLachlan)

Bridge Over Troubled Water  (Simon & Garfunkel)

Forever and for Always  (Shania Twain)


Are you forcing your kid to drive somewhere with you?  They're trapped!  And this is the perfect time for a challenging talk.  These conversation-starter songs are great for kickstarting a discussion or two that may be hard to have (and that you must needs passive-aggressively engender).  Don't listen to all of these back-to-back or your head will explode from the intensity of the subject matter, and your kid will Spidey-sense your sneaky, prosocial agenda.  [Subject of songs/ talking point(s) are in brackets.]

Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm  
(Crash Test Dummies)  [Teasing; bullying]

I Hate My Sister  (The Juliana Hatfield Three)  [Complex sibling Relationships]

99 Problems  (Jay-Z)  [Covert racism; racial profiling]

Pumped Up Kicks  (Foster the People)  [School shootings; mental illness]

The Distance  (CAKE) [Tough competition; sports]

Born This Way  (Lady Gaga) [Coming out as LGBTQ+; general self-acceptance]

Krippled Boy  (Kounterclockwise) [Disability discrimination; disability pride]

I'm Still Standing  (Elton John)  [Divorce; breakups; adversity]

Nothing Compares 2 U  (Sinead O'Connor) [Missing someone]

Wonda Why They Call U Bitch  (Tupac Shakur)  [Questionable sexual choices; self-esteem themes]

Drips  (Eminem feat. Obie Trice) [STDs]

Under the Bridge  (Red Hot Chili Peppers)  [Homelessness, addiction, recovery]

Creep  (TLC) [Infidelity; dishonesty]

Mr. Brightside  (The Killers) [Jealousy; toxic relationships]

Unpretty  (TLC)  [Media image of "beauty"]

The Impression That I Get  (Mighty Mighty Bosstones) [HIV status; denial]

Love the Way You Lie  (Eminem feat. Rihanna) [Relationship violence]

Jagged Little Pill  (Alanis Morissette)  [Depression]

Sex Type Thing  (Stone Temple Pilots) [Rape/sexual assault]

Just a Girl  (No Doubt)  [Sexism; defeatism]

Zombie  (The Cranberries)  [Horror and atrocities of war]

Brick  (Ben Folds Five)  [Termination of a pregnancy]

Lovefool  (The Cardigans)  [Unhealthy relationships; unrequited feelings]

I Will Follow You Into the Dark  (Death Cab for Cutie) [Death]

Fire and Rain  (James Taylor) [Death of a friend]

Loser (Three Doors Down) [Mental illness; discouragement]

Alcohol (Barenaked Ladies) [Problematic alcohol use]

Back to Black  (Amy Winehouse) [Addiction]

Survivor  (Destiny’s Child)  [Illness; cancer; chronic difficulty; hope]

Scars to Your Beautiful  (Alessia Cara)  [Hair loss, self-acceptance]

Eleanor Rigby  (The Beatles) [Loneliness]

Fast Car  (Tracy Chapman) [Poverty; inequality]

Strange Fruit  (Billie Holliday)  [Overt racism; lynching]

When I Was Your Man  (Bruno Mars) [Regret; vulnerability]

Dude Looks Like a Lady  (Aerosmith) [Transphobia]

Blister in the Sun  (Violent Femmes) [Heroin abuse; masturbation that interferes with life]

Girls and Boys  (Blur) [Gender identity; sexuality]

I Will Wait  (Mumford and Sons) [Autism; developmental disability]

Father of Mine  (Everclear) [Parental abandonment]

Counting Blue Cars  (Dishwalla) [Innocence; existentialism; exploring spirituality]

Barely Breathing  (Duncan Sheik) [Manipulation]

Oh What a Night  (The Four Seasons) [Losing your virginity]

Don’t Stand So Close to Me  (The Police) [Inappropriate relationships; power imbalances; sex crimes; child sexual abuse; statutory rape]

Roxanne  (The Police) [Prostitution]

Down Rodeo  (Rage Against the Machine) [Economic/social inequality; violence; institutional racism]

Xxplosive  (Dr. Dre) [Misogyny; objectification of women; disregard for others]

Bad Day  (Daniel Powter) [Disappointment; feeling like you’ve come up short]

There Goes my Life  (Kenny Chesney) [Teen Pregnancy]

Cry Me a River  (Justin Timberlake) [Broken trust; lies]

What’s My Age Again?  (Blink-182) [Immaturity; stigma against being gay]

Paparazzi  (Lady Gaga) [Eating disorders; bulemia]

Help  (The Beatles) [Vulnerability; being differently abled; school/learning challenges]

Summertime Sadness  (Lana Del Ray) [Stigma of mental illness; mood challenges]

Beautiful Soul  (Jesse McCartney) [Infatuation]

Every Breath You Take  (The Police) [Obsession; stalking; unhealthy relationships]

BasketCase  (Green Day) [Emotional burnout/ overwhelm; anxiety] 

Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)  (Green Day) [Big transitions; bittersweet times; graduations]

Because of You  (Kelly Clarkson) [Divorce; deep sadness; helpless feelings; parentification] 

F*ckin Perfect  (Pink) [Perfectionism; mistakes; self-judgement]

One Love/People Get Ready  (Bob Marley) [Being othered; inclusiveness; faith; belonging & significance]

California Rain Dance

Are you a drought-addled Californian who is hoping like hell for some rain?  Here’s some songs and incantations for whetting your whistle.  Most aren’t exactly about weather and climate concerns, but it can’t hurt to try and manifest some precipitation in the West by listening to these. 

Fire and Rain (James Taylor)

Dust in the Wind  (Kansas)

Have You Ever Seen the Rain? (Credence Clearwater Revival)

Water Runs Dry  (Boyz II Men)

Only Happy When it Rains  (Garbage)

A Horse With No Name  (America)

Raindrops Keep Fallon’ on my Head (B.J. Thomas)

The Rain Song  (Led Zeppelin)

Rain is a Good Thing  (Luke Bryan)

The Thunder Rolls (Garth Brooks)

Purple Rain (Prince)

Special Note:  Why not just plug one or two of these songs into a streaming service and let the algorithms take care of the rest? Sometimes it’s not that simple—Let's say I feel like listening to some pop rap by Lil’ Nas X, but that isn't necessarily because he happens to be in the LGBTQ+ community.  So Spotify might be a little off in suggesting, say, Queen. These are the algorithm-defying playlists that'll enrich your wandering life.   

Happy Trails!

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