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Staff Picks: Road Songs

Alice Cooper guitarist Nita Strauss joins the PG staff to talk about road-trip songs and current guitar obsessions.

Fall beckons and so does that yearn for the road—that last chance to soak up the summer. Nita Strauss, who just replaced Orianthi in Alice Cooper’s touring band, joins us in setting our stereos for overdrive. We also share our current guitar obsessions.

Nita Strauss -- Guest Picker
What’s your hit-the-road-with-the-windows-down song?
I have so many—I love driving with the top down listening to music! I’m going with the first one that popped into my head, and that’s “Rising Force” by Yngwie Malmsteen. That song always puts me in a great mood and makes me want to drive fast!

My current obsession is: Steve Hunter, The Manhattan Blues Project. Steve's playing on this album is subtle in some places and dark and gritty in others, but always soulful, honest, and dynamic. I always get inspired listening to it! The icing on the cake is the guest appearances—totally mind-blowing.

Andy Ellis -- Senior Editor
What’s your hit-the-road-with-the-windows-down song?
Eddie Rabbitt’s 1980 crossover country hit “Drivin’ My Life Away” is always in heavy rotation at home or on the road. Larry Byrom’s gently compressed electric guitar lines are simply timeless … go listen.

My current obsession is: Lap steel! When it comes to recording a solo, instead of attempting a barrage of guitar licks, I’d rather coax a few fat, searing tones from a steel—preferably through a small amp cranked to 11.

Tessa Jeffers -- Managing Editor
What’s your hit-the-road-with-the-windows-down song?
“Ramble On” is one of my anthems for tires hitting pavement. I like the chill build before Plant, Page, and Co. let the marbles out. That’s what I like to do while traveling—alternate some mellow coasting with bouts of freak-out. Heck, I’ll raise you the entire Led Zeppelin II and throw in some IV.

My current obsession is: Wood. Exotic tonewoods like cocobolo, Macassar ebony, and trembesi are things that make me go “mmmmmm.”

Jason Shadrick -- Associate Editor
What’s your hit-the-road-with-the-windows-down song?
The first song that made me want to hit the open road was “La Bamba,” but I was only 7 and wasn’t able to totally understand the connection between music and travel. Now that I’ve connected the dots, Snarky Puppy’s “What About Me?” is the jam.

My current obsession is: Hybrid picking. From the limitless technique of Guthrie Govan to the down-home twang of Brent Mason, it seems everything I’m listening to now is played by more than a pick.

Rich Osweiler -- Associate Editor
What’s your hit-the-road-with-the-windows-down song?
Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” screams road trip for me. But I have to remain cautious since it inspires quick and excessive acceleration, and I don’t need anymore speeding tickets.

My current obsession is: Paul McCartney at Candlestick Park. I’m a hard-core Beatles fan and a longtime San Franciscan who’s seen a gazillion Giants’ games at the soon-to-be-torn-down ’Stick, so going with my wife to see Macca play where the band performed their last ever commercial concert in 1966 will be pretty insane. The special-guest rumor mill has us counting the days.