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Memorial Day marks the unofficial kickoff to summer. Many of us celebrate the lives of our fallen troops by accepting an invite to a good friend’s barbecue or hitting the road to the nearest beach. Those hosting barbecues or beach parties are already putting together Memorial Day playlists for the party. But travelers headed out for a road trip may also want to get in on the playlist action. The increase in roadway travel makes Memorial Day one of the deadliest holidays for car accidents. This increase in motor vehicle travel increases a driver’s duty to pay attention to their surroundings.

Most warnings about holiday driving center around drunk driving, sleepy driving, weather, and road conditions. However, there are not nearly enough warnings about the dangers of distracted driving. Studies show that adjusting the radio is the single biggest distraction in the vehicle and accounts for approximately 80% of all distracted driving. Further, distracted driving is the cause of more than 420,000 accident-related injuries and more than 3,100 fatalities each year. Even if you don’t text and drive, picking up your cell phone to search for a song on your preferred music streaming service is an added distraction most motorists now have to consider.

Despite the newness of this technology, we aren’t saying anything new about fiddling with the radio while driving. Since the introduction of the car radio in the 1930s, there has been pushback about music’s ability to take a driver’s attention from the road. But music streaming services may be the solution to the radio distraction.

Listen to our Memorial Day 2019 playlist on Spotify:

Music Streaming Services Can Make Roads Safer

Gone are the days where you have to sit through five minutes of radio commercials. Gone are the days of lowering your car radio when all of your favorite stations presets are on commercial break at the same time. You don’t have to worry about taking your eyes off the road to rewind a tape or find and switch out a CD. In 2019, you have more choices than ever to keep your commutes and road trips enjoyable. As long as your cell phone bill is paid, you can stream whatever you want from almost anywhere in the world.

While it’s fair to say that apps like Apple Music, Spotify, Google Music, and Tidal can be a distraction, they also offer drivers an innovation of selection not seen since the first mix CD. But where mixed CDs were bound by data constraints, streaming offers drivers the ability to create an unlimited playlist. Playlists make roads safer simply because they remove the temptation to multitask. Fiddling with the car controls and radio dials is actually more distracting than you may think. In addition, searching for music on your phone while you’re driving is just as dangerous as texting and driving.

If your Memorial Day plans include a road trip, consider creating the perfect playlist right now. We have some song suggestions that honor our nation’s fallen soldiers and make your drive enjoyable while ensuring your surroundings have your attention.

Songs that honor the sacrifices of veterans

Memorial Day honors those who have died in armed conflicts while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Your Memorial Day playlist would be incomplete without a few songs that honor the sacrifices these men and women have made.

“Born in the U.S.A.” – Bruce Springsteen

Who is more American than Bruce Springsteen? Heralded as the blue-collar worker’s champion, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” is the go-to song we think of to celebrate the country. But past its aggressive piano, Springsteen’s anger, and its catchy ubiquitous chorus, the song tells the story of a man sent off to the Vietnam war whose left dealing with the lasting effects of war.

“American Girl” – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Tom Petty is an American icon with an extensive catalog. Despite its current ubiquity, “American Girl” wasn’t actually a hit on its initial release in 1977. But thanks to the chilling scene from 1991’s “Silence of the Lambs” and a 1994 re-release, the song now gets the credit it deserves as an American classic. There are a lot of myths as to what the song is actually about. (Tom Petty wrote the song about the sounds of a highway.) However, you can interpret it however you want. No matter what you interpret, the song is easy to bop along to and will make you feel patriotic driving on America’s open roads. When the song comes on, its upbeat tempo is enough to keep you awake through any length road trip.

“Some Gave All” – Billy Ray Cyrus

Young millennials may only know Billy Ray Cyrus as Miley Cyrus’ real-life and Hannah Montana dad. And Gen Z may only know Billy Ray Cyrus from his current long-running number one song in the country, “Old Town Road” with rapper Lil Nas X. But before becoming a Disney dad and blending musical genres, Billy Ray Cyrus was honoring fallen soldiers on the ballad “Some Gave All”, the eponymous title of his first album.

“Surrender” – Cheap Trick

You won’t find “Surrender” by Cheap Trick on many U.S.-specific holiday playlists. Why? Because it doesn’t contain the word America or U.S.A. However, the song is about the advice a Baby Boomer receives from his Greatest Generation parents. “Surrender” even nods to the contributions that women made to our country’s military efforts as it dismisses claims that women recruited into the WACS (Women’s Arny Corps) during WWII were old maids.

“Star-Spangled Banner” – Whitney Houston

What would a Memorial Day road trip playlist be without the only rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner to become a top 10 hit? Houston recorded the song as a charity song to raise funds for soldiers and families who were involved in the Persian Gulf war in 1991. Arista Records, her label, re-released the song in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Funds from the re-release were donated to the first responders and victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“Party in the U.S.A.” – Miley Cyrus

Sometime between Hannah Montana and becoming Mrs. Liam Hemsworth, Miley Cyrus found time to release the effervescent 2009 classic “Party in the U.S.A.” The song opens with an infectious pop guitar riff before the beat drops and Miley begins crooning about moving from Small Town, U.S.A. to Hollywood to pursue her dreams. She listens to Jay Z and Britney Spears in her cowgirl boots. The song will keep your mood up as it celebrates the freedom of pursuing the American Dream while soaking in all of the cultures and backgrounds this great country has to offer—the freedoms those who fought and died for this country swore to uphold and protect.

Summertime Songs

It’s warming up and you’re likely to spend your Memorial Day outside. Not everyone gets MLK Day or Good Friday off of work, so for some workers, the three-day Memorial Day weekend is their first break of the New Year. We already know, any summer road trip playlist would be incomplete without summer-themed hits that bring about that teenaged nostalgia. Add these to your Memorial Day playlist:

  • “Hot in Herre” – Nelly
  • “Summertime” – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
  • “Summer Girls” – LFO
  • “Cruel Summer” – Bananarama
  • “The Boys of Summer” – Don Henley (or The Ataris – whichever version you were a teen for)
  • “Summer of ‘69” – Bryan Adams
  • “Summertime Sadness” – Lana Del Rey
  • “It Was A Good Day” – Ice Cube
  • “Summer Madness” – Kool & The Gang

Song of the Summer, 2019

In addition to honoring the fallen, we know you want to have a good time to get you pumped to celebrate your three-day Memorial Day Weekend. While we’re not quite into the summer there are some early contenders for song of the summer, 2019. Here are a few top hits across genres that you might want to consider adding into your Memorial Day road trip playlist:

  • “Old Town Road (Remix)” – Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus
  • “If I Can’t Have You” – Shawn Mendes
  • “Before I Let Go” – Beyoncé*
  • “Juice” – Lizzo*
  • “Sucker” – Jonas Brothers
  • “Go” – The Black Keys
  • “Wow” – Post Malone*
  • “Sweet but Psycho” – Ava Max
  • “Talk” – Khalid, Disclosure
  • “God’s Country” – Blake Shelton
  • “MIA” – Bad Bunny, Drake
  • “Key Song” – Toebow
  • “Taki Taki” – DJ Snake, Selena Gomez, Ozuna, Cardi B
  • “Bad Guy” – Billie Eillish
  • “I’ve Been Waiting” – Lil Peep, iLoveMakonnen ft. Fall Out Boy*
  • “Crave” – Madonna, Swae Lee

*If you’re taking a family trip this holiday, make sure you get the clean versions.

After Crafting the Perfect Memorial Day Road Trip Playlist

Even when you settle on your music early, there are still dangers associated with listening to music. Some studies show that music increases distractions. However, other studies indicate that listening to jazz or other smooth sounds increases attentiveness.

  1. Your Memorial Day road trip playlist might be perfect, but here are some tips to keep in mind while you’re driving:
  2. Listen to your music at a reasonable level.
  3. There is something to the old joke about turning your music down when you’re lost. When the volume is high, the time needed to make decisions increases by 20 percent.
  4. Hit play and don’t touch your playlist until you stop.
  5. And we’re not talking when you come to a quick halt in stop-and-go traffic, we’re talking about you’re pulled off the road and stopped at a gas station. Searching for songs means that you will look away from the road more often and for more than two seconds.
  6. Turn off cell phone notifications.
  7. That text and that phone call can wait. Even hands-free cell phone use can be a distraction.
  8. Don’t drink and drive.
  9. This has nothing to do with music, but it’s worth repeating.

We Care. We Can Help.

Memorial Day is meant to honor fallen heroes, but it can quickly become a day that your family has to honor your memory as well. Tragedy can strike at any moment—particularly when drivers aren’t aware of what’s going on around them. The Carlson Law Firm believes that responsible driving begins with using common sense. If everyone takes responsibility for their actions on the road, we can reduce the number of car crashes and keep yourself and others safe. Even if none of the songs we suggested are your jam, putting together a playlist before you put the car in ‘drive’ is the best way to avoid searching for songs and causing a distracted driving accident.

Even responsible drivers who are aware of their surroundings can become car crash victims. If you were the victim of distracted driving or Memorial Day car crash, contact The Carlson Law Firm. Our team of experienced and dedicated attorneys is ready to help you and your family begin the recovery process.

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