Alternative Travel Songs for your Playlist
Hiking the Great Wall of China initiates people to sweeping panoramic views, incredible sunsets, and plenty of quiet time. For those moments when you want inspirational lyrics or a beat to put a bounce in your step, these are 16 mountain songs worth adding to your playlist.
1: Rocky Mountain High by John Denver
Perhaps the most famous mountain song in the American songbook, John Denver’s classic prompted Colorado to adopt it as a second official state song. It’s waxing vocals, and thoughtful lyrics paint a mountain image in the mind’s eye.
2: Big Rock Candy Mountain by Harry McClintock
This old-timey song portrays a kind of hobo hiking nirvana and found its way to the O Brother Where Art Thou movie soundtrack.
3: My Proud Mountains by Townes Van Zandt
Van Zandt is considered a master of the ballad for good reason. The lyrics highlight a mountain lover discovering the disconnectedness of city life. Ultimately, he yearns for the mountain life.
4: Climb Ev’ry Mountain by Rodgers and Hammerstein
Movie buffs may remember this oldy from The Sound of Music, and it remains a classic that inspires people to traverse the next peak “Til you find your dream.”
5: The Cascades by The Fleet Foxes
As an instrumental ode to the Cascade Range, this Seattle band delivers a dreamy tune that offers a sense of wanderlust.
6: The Climb by Miley Cyrus
Tossing a sugary pop star into your playlist may not be for everyone. However, this song uses mountaineering as a metaphor for facing adversity. Hey, someone must like pop. After all, it’s pop-ular.
7: High On a Mountain Top by Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn remains a music icon and her famed song gives listeners all the right reasons to hike up a mountain and stay awhile.
8: Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
“I took my love, I took it down. Climbed a mountain and I turned around. And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills. ‘Til the landslide brought me down.” Enough said.
9: Sugar Mountain by Neil Young
Canadian folk-rocker Neil Young delivers this lament with a playful pop in his vocals that turn it into a mood-setter.
10: Rocky Mountain Way by Joe Walsh
The former Eagle and guitar virtuoso takes listeners on a romp that will have even the most disciplined Great Wall hiker grooving.
11: Mountain Music by Alabama
If you live in America’s South, this isn’t a song. It’s part of everyday life. The catchy, upbeat Southern Rock beat and infectious harmonies are irresistible and the perfect sing-along. As mountain songs go, it’s hard to find its equal. It’s an absolute must in any mountain hike.
12: Country Roads cover by Toots and the Maytals
Although this is one of John Denver’s immortal classics, it’s okay to shake up your mountain playlist with a solid cover. Toots blends a modest reggae beat with country and switches “West Virginia” with “West Jamaica.” There aren’t a lot of reggae songs about mountains or hiking. So, this gives you an excuse to sway to some reggae on your Great Wall hike. Besides, it’s fun.
13: The Mountain Song by Jerry Garcia
Deadheads will be thrilled to see Jerry represented in these mountain song selections. Jerry has a penchant for repetition, and the lyrics “Gonna make the mountains be my home” may be sung a record number of times in a row. But like so many Grateful Dead songs and offshoots, it’s a smooth jam that can be uplifting.
14: Blue Ridge Mountains by Fleet Foxes
The Fleet Foxes only reference the Mountains once. But the haunting instrumentals and lyric resonance conjure heady images of the outdoors. This may be a tad outside the box for some hikers and music lovers, but give it a play and see if it draws you closer to nature.
15: Foggy Mountain Breakdown by Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs
Bluegrass remains a genre that can appropriate any song from Mozart to the Beatles. But Foggy Mountain Breakdown is a standard fiddle and banjo instrumental masterpiece that cannot be denied a presence in your mountain hike playlist out of pure respect.
16: Thunder on the Mountain by Bob Dylan
Not what you might expect from folksy Dylan or electric Dylan. It’s an infectious conflation of rockabilly and jump blues that will have your boot heels bopping. That may seem like a weird description given Dylan’s love of dirges. But he reinvents himself with Thunder on the Mountain.