Driving Songs
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From the cockpit of the 2014 Impala, you can personalize musical themes for routines and adventures alike

By Mike Payne

The American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” I’ve spent a good portion of that journey behind the wheel, and my car stereo is always my preferred co-pilot. I’ve found that every great drive needs a soundtrack of its own, a musical canvas to enrich the experience. From the driver’s seat of the 2014 Impala, a driver like me can personalize up to four musical themes for four separate driving adventures. In just a few swipes and selections on the available next-generation Chevrolet MyLink* system, I can build the ideal soundtrack for four very different drives. The touchscreen can also display album art, pause live radio and “mark” iTunes songs I enjoy listening to while driving for purchase later on my home computer.

The Morning Commute

When coffee alone won’t cut it, I need a strong beat to get my day going. My morning ride is a mix of classic funk, golden-era hip hop and indie electronic from the current charts. There’s a common element amongst all this music, and it’s a driving groove that I can’t help but nod along to. It’s not a casual preference, either—it’s science. Scientific American recently explored the psychology behind music like this for its motivating traits: “Music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort and may even promote metabolic efficiency.” It’s what the doctor ordered for my morning commute.

A Date Night Soundtrack

Dinner and a movie with my better half always begins with a ride along the scenic route. I set the mood with a soundtrack of slower songs that are heavy on sentimentality but light in spirit. Every couple has a song or two that means something more to them, and my wife and I certainly have our own. In fact, the artist of our choice is covered right here on Chevy Culture.

A Family Road Trip

The best part about planning a road trip is picking the music for the drive. Unlike the morning commute and the night on the town, a range of emotions and energy levels can be explored here. On my road trips, I like to design a playlist that emphasizes progression, that connects one song to another in a long stream of music that tells a larger story. One of the better road trip playlists I’ve found is a 265-song list about exploring the U.S. by a pair of newlywed nomads. I’m getting the travel itch just thinking about it.

Some Time and Space for Myself

I find that I’m at my most productive when I can clear my head and carve out a little space to myself. When I need it most, I’ll take a short drive to a peaceful location, be it a park by the beach or even a parking garage rooftop with a nice view of the city. I can work anywhere thanks to a 4G mobile connection, making the whole city my virtual office. I find that some low-volume classical music gets my creative juices flowing, especially work from the baroque period. The mathematical nature of baroque music is well suited to the rhythm of writing, thinking and creating. Whether I’m driving or parked, a classical theme is ideal for when I need to do some mobile brainstorming.

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Mike Payne, founder and publisher of TheCoolist.com, the web’s finely curated encyclopedia of cool. Mike’s interest in design, technology and the study of trends is part of his nature, having grown up in a family of automotive designers and visual artists in Detroit. When he’s not managing TheCoolist, Mike moonlights as a commercial photographer, photographing architecture and food for hotels, restaurants, architects and corporate clients.

*MyLink functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.