Roadside songbooks and playlists


Driving with strangers - the musical!

As part of the publicity around the book, I've put together a couple of playlists which are designed to accompany the text and evoke some of the personal and political journeys within its pages.

Spotify – Jonathan Purkis - Driving with strangers

Hitchhiking playlist for 'Driving with strangers: what hitchhiking tells us about humanity' by Jonathan Purkis (Manchester University Press, 2022) - YouTube

The youtube list takes versions of songs which have a visual dimension in order to help the listener to feel part of the history but also bring them up to date. Neither playlist is quite as multicultural as I would like, so any suggestions welcome.


Database of hitchhiking songs 

I am in the midst of building a database of hitchhiking and hitching related songs and musical compositions. There have been a number of attempts to do this in the past and both and have very generalised lists on their sites. What I am interested in doing in addition to this is to give the would be researcher or obsessive music loving road dog an idea of how the piece sits within the culture and debates of the time it was written and performed, or is more generally relevant.  For instance there are 'hitchhiking as metaphor' songs which appear in many decades and contexts, whereas other ones which have a social justice or sexual equality theme to them might only really be understood in terms of a particular time and place. 



In the meantime, here are a few representatives of different decades  of hitchhiking history. 


Memphis Minnie - Nothing in rambling, In my girlish days

Woody Guthrie - Tom Joad 


Harry Partch – Barstow

Woody Guthrie - This land is your land


Johnny Cash – I’ve been everywhere

Roger Miller - King of the road, Hitchhiker

Marvin Gaye – Hitchhike 

Elvis – Guitar Man

Bob Dylan – Down the Highway


Joan Baez - The Hitchhiker's Song

Credence Clearwater Revival - Sweet Hitch Hiker 

The Eagles - Take it Easy

John Denver - (Old) Hitchhiker

Kris Kristofferson - Be and Bobby McGee 

Roy Harper - Highway Blues

Joni Mitchell - Coyote


Neil Young - Bound for Glory

Roger Waters - The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking

Tom T. Jones – The Hitchhiker


Old Crow Medicine Show - Wagon Wheel 

Steve Earle – Hometown Blues, Leroy’s Dustbowl Blues, Texas Eagle

Ani DiFranco – Every state line

The Levellers - Battle of the Beanfield

Sheryl Crow - Every day is a winding road

Heart - All I wanna do is make love to you

2000 - present 

Ellis Paul - The Ballad of Chris McCandless

Shelley Segal - Hitchhiking Song

Jenna Witts - Hitchhiker

Ste Kenwright - Standing 

James Bar Bowen - She is 

Jamie M Cooper - Bundanoon Town