How to make the perfect compromise on a road trip playlist

If you’ve ever taken any level of U.S. history, you’ll know that there’s really nothing more American than compromise. We did it in 1787 — and in 1820, 1850 and 1877 — and if you’re driving anywhere with friends this weekend, get ready to do it again in 2015!

Speaking from experience, embarking on a road trip with plans to completely commandeer the playlist for as many miles as you possibly can before reluctantly and petulantly releasing the auxiliary cord into the custody of your friend — who is nice but has questionable taste in music — is an extremely bad idea. She won’t want to listen to an entire Simon & Garfunkel CD straight through, her Maroon 5 will make you want to gouge out your eyes, and then you will both sit through the no man’s land that is “Hey Ya!” as you plot your next move.

Sitting in a sticky leather seat for hours on end while you await arrival at your sunny holiday-weekend destination is hard enough without being in a close-quarters, passive-aggressive DJ fight with your friend. Ensure yourself some smooth sailing — well, driving — and follow these steps:

Draft a pre-nup.

A “pre-drive,” we suppose, is the technical term. Before you even step foot in that car, make some agreements. Promise to trade off every 15 minutes, every five songs or whatever arrangement sounds bearable to you, and then pass the cord around to every single person in that vehicle. Equality means you’ll spend some time totally miserable, but you’ll also spend some time happily seat dancing, and nobody can complain about unfairness.


Like a bar mitzvah DJ, try to feel out the crowd and give it what it wants. You may not believe it, but there is going to be common ground somewhere, so play accordingly! Then, everybody’s happy, and the best part of any road trip — besides fast-food pit stops that you don’t feel guilty about because there wasn’t anything else to eat for 46 miles — is the chorus of off-key voices belting out a collective favorite.

Side note: The dumb music of your middle school years will almost always play well. Nostalgia, catchiness and the safety net of ironic enjoyment means everybody wins.

Do not fart.

If you fart, it’s all over. One toot and you lose your privileges, because if you stink up the precious micro-climate that is your air-conditioned car on your five-hour drive, everybody will be perfectly justified in stripping you of your playlist rights, and there is nothing you can do about that.

Be open.

It’s easy to have strong opinions on music, but try to keep an open mind! Maybe you’ll find it interesting, maybe you’ll start enjoying it out of sheer familiarity and repetition, or maybe you’ll be genuinely convinced. And if it’s really that bad, save your complaints for a well-composed tweet.

Sleep it off. 

If all else fails, take a nap. What you can’t hear won’t drive you crazy. You get silence and rest, your fellow passengers get you to quit whining, and everybody drives in peace — unless you’re the driver, in which case I sincerely hope the above worked for you.

Image source: Geoff Llerena via Creative Commons


Contact Miya Singer at [email protected].