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The Best Songs to Play With the Top Down : Marshall Tucker Band – “Fire on the Mountain”

There are some songs that are made for certain moments, whether it’s introspection in a quiet chair – a la “No Woman No Cry” – or barrelling down the freeway in a stolen car – think anything by Van Halen. But, when it comes to the perfect convertible songs, the list is harder to pin down.

After all, what kind of music is best to play with the top down? While it largely depends on preference, I ere on the side of lush melodies and booming rock ‘n’ roll. Whatever you play in a convertible, it needs to sound one with the wind, providing a lush, airy aesthetic.

With its wilting opening acoustic strums and whining, nostalgic melody, it’s easy to write off Marshall Tucker Band‘s most enduring hit “Fire on the Mountain” as a ballad, the kind more suitable for a backroad. (Not to be confused with The Grateful Dead’s “Fire on the Mountain,” which while it has the same name, isn’t a cover).

That said, about 10 seconds in, the song takes off with bounce that leads to escalating harmonies, fiddle and steel guitar that showcase the tune’s true appeal. Powered by a Southern-fried country twang, Charlie Daniels on the fiddle, yes, the Charlie Daniels, Charlie Daniels, and the booming vocals of Toy Caldwell, the song has an appeal that seems to outlast the lackluster reputation of the band itself.

Today, you’d be hard pressed to find any rock ‘n’ roll fan says the Marshall Tucker Band deserves to stand alongside their contemporaries like the Allman Brothers or The Dead in the pantheon of the greats. Still, this song finds its way onto many mix CDs and MP3 players because it captures the band’s fabled live performances perhaps better than other tracks.

So, next time you’re making a mix for your convertible, purchase this song on iTunes or use this recommendation as an excuse to dig out your 8-Track of “Searchin’ for a Rainbow” – it will be worth it.

​What are your favorite songs to play with the top down? List your selections below and see if they make the list, and look for more of Pete’s Picks soon.

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