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updated: 8/22/2011 5:43 AM

Which road trip song will cruise to victory?

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  • Kermit the Frog's "Rainbow Connection" is a finalist for best road trip song.

      Kermit the Frog's "Rainbow Connection" is a finalist for best road trip song.
    Associated Press photo

  • Tom Petty's "Runnin' Down a Dream" is one of nine finalists for best road trip song.

      Tom Petty's "Runnin' Down a Dream" is one of nine finalists for best road trip song.
    Associated Press photo

  • Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" was a reader favorite for best road trip song.

      Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" was a reader favorite for best road trip song.
    Associated Press photo

  • Blondie's "One Way or Another" is in contention for best road trip song.

      Blondie's "One Way or Another" is in contention for best road trip song.
    Associated Press photo

  • Fans of Golden Earring's "Radar Love" are launching a write-in campaign.

      Fans of Golden Earring's "Radar Love" are launching a write-in campaign.
    Photo courtesy of Corné Henri Bibo

  • Video: Kermit's 'Rainbow Connection'

 
 

There's a reason you keep hitting the radio's scan button while cruising down the interstate.

It's a quest to find the perfect song. A song with rhythms that mesh with the momentum of the car and the feel of the open road. A song with guitar riffs that inspire you to unconsciously tap the gas pedal and turn your dashboard into a drum set.

Everyone has a favorite, as In Transit's Best Road Trip Song contest proved. About 50 nominations poured in along with eloquent explanations.

Clarence Haywood of Elgin is an advocate for the Beach Boys' "I Get Around." "As a Baby Boomer, it takes me back to my youth," he wrote. "The sense of freedom, being able to cruise on down the highway without my parents was as empowering as the 327 cubic-inches under the hood of my wishful dream car that year -- a 1964 red Corvette convertible."

John Goble of Wheaton loves to cruise to Tom Petty's "Runnin' Down a Dream." "As the song rolls along, the pace quickens and one of the best lead guitar lines ever makes the right foot push the gas pedal down just a little bit more ... and the air guitar frenzy assists in your own dream run," Goble wrote.

Barb Sumner of Palatine has a road trip ritual. "When we get into a car for a trip, we always recite the 'Blues Brothers' line, 'It's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, a half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses. Hit it!' Then, we sing Willie Nelson's, 'On the Road Again,'" she explained.

Rick Lasse can't get Paul Simon's "Graceland" album out of his head from a 1987 trip from Round Lake Beach to St. Paul, Minn. "I think I wore out my cassette tape. I had a Chevy Cavalier convertible and that drive was the best road trip," he recalled.

Jim McKenna of Arlington Heights loves Foghat's "Slow Ride." "It has good advice for driving -- slow down, take it easy," he said. "It has a great, driving beat, various speeds and it's nice and long for cruising. One summer night we were almost home when it came on the radio. It felt so good cruising to it that we kept on going."

Linda Cohen of Buffalo Grove can't resist the Muppets' "Rainbow Connection." It "began many road trips for us when my kids were young. That song is about all the possibilities on the other side of the rainbow, and we could dream about the adventures ahead on the trip. Singing together, each of us with our own thoughts of what the vacation would bring, began our trip with a smile. Happy, mellow, and thinking if frogs could sing, anything was possible!"

Becky Guthrie -- no relation to Woody -- is devoted to his "This Land is Your Land." "Most of our vacations have been road trips to state and national parks, and this song conveys our feelings of pride and appreciation for the beauty and history we have experienced as a result," she explained.

And, Bonnalee Boyd of Cary remembers rocking to "Cuanto Le Gusto," by the Andrews Sisters and Carmen Miranda. "The song is peppy, the tune is catchy, and it expresses the freedom that makes any road trip relaxing and memorable," she said.

Ultimately, though, only nine nominated songs made the final cut and today is the last day to vote for a winner.

Here are the finalists:

• "American Pie," Don McLean

• "Born to Be Wild," Steppenwolf

• "I Get Around," The Beach Boys

• "I Want You to Want Me," Cheap Trick

• "On the Road Again," Willie Nelson

• "One Way or Another," Blondie

• "The Rainbow Connection," from "The Muppet Movie"

• "Runnin' Down a Dream," Tom Petty

• "Take It Easy," The Eagles

Send your pick to mpyke@dailyherald.com with the subject line, "road trip song."

Your voice

"Radar Love" fans are passionate dudes. Virulent emails I've gotten regarding the Illinois toll road's proposed rate hike are nothing compared to the outrage when the Golden Earring song didn't make the final cut.

"Putting the 'Rainbow Connection' in the mix isn't even funny -- it's kind of pathetic," Rick Sharp of Batavia wrote. "How does Blondie even get a mention? OK, I get the Willie Nelson and Tom Petty -- both worthy. No Bruce Springsteen? No 'Radar Love' (my choice)? No Foghat -- 'Slow Ride'? How about, 'Bad Motor Scooter,' or 'I Can't Drive 55.' These all have a road trip theme and absolutely rock."

And "Radar Love" aficionado Bob Woodbury of Hawthorn Woods is mounting a write-in campaign. When I pointed out it wasn't among the judges' final picks, he emailed, "it should have been."

You should know

The Metropolitan Planning Council issued a report on Bus Rapid Transit last week, identifying key routes that should be created in Chicago. One of those was along Western Avenue between the Evanston border at Howard Avenue to the South Side at 95th Street. The route would hook up with Metra stations, including the North Central Service, BNSF, Milwaukee District North and Milwaukee West Lines.

Others include Ashland Avenue and Irving Park Road. Using designated lanes, BRT would get cars off the road, offer fast access to points across the city and be built "at a fraction of the cost of light or heavy rail," the report states.

Oh, yes. Funding. There's the rub. Revenues for the BRT network are nonexistent now. The MPC is urging transit agencies to lobby Congress and Springfield lawmakers for aid. To learn more, check out metroplanning.org.

Gridlock alert

You'll need a soothing song if driving to southern Illinois next weekend. Expect lane closures on I-57 at the Tri-State Tollway for pavement patching.

The same goes for DuPage road warriors. Starting today, IDOT crews will be patching and repairing stretches of North Avenue in Carol Stream, Glendale Heights and Addison.

Coming soon

Hearings? We've got hearings. Whether you're debating the merits of a possible tollway increase or concerned about a potential Metra fare hike, there's a forum with your name on it this week.

Metra's Citizens Advisory Board invites riders to a 9 a.m. Friday meeting to discuss the agency's budget plus possible service cuts and ticket increases.

Meanwhile, the tollway wraps up forums on raising rates to pay for a mega construction program.

• 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Court.

• 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Buffalo Grove village hall, 50 Raupp Blvd.

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