Life Is a Highway


"Life Is a Highway"
Life Is a Highway Tom Cochrane.jpg
Single by Tom Cochrane
from the album Mad Mad World
ReleasedSeptember 20, 1991[1]
Songwriter(s)Tom Cochrane
  • Tom Cochrane
  • Joe Hardy
Tom Cochrane singles chronology
"Sail On"
"Life Is a Highway"
"No Regrets"
"Life Is a Highway" on YouTube

"Life Is a Highway" is a song by Tom Cochrane from his second studio album, Mad Mad World (1991). The song became a number-one hit in Cochrane's native Canada in late 1991. "Life Is a Highway" also peaked at number six on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in August 1992 and reached the top three in Australia and New Zealand that same year. The song was covered by Chris LeDoux for his 1998 album One Road Man and Rascal Flatts for the Cars soundtrack.

Background and release

Cochrane has stated that "Life Is a Highway" was originally conceived in the 1980s as "Love is a Highway" while he was still a member of Red Rider, but was shelved at that time because he felt the unfinished song was unusable.[3] Following a trip with his family to Eastern Africa with the World Vision famine relief organization, Cochrane revisited the song on the advice of his friend John Webster, an instrumentalist on the Mad Mad World album. In a 2017 interview with The Canadian Press to mark the song's 25th anniversary, Cochrane said Webster encouraged him to revisit the demo recording, which at that point only had mumbled vocals and improvised lyrics, but not the song's well-known chorus. "(The song) became a pep talk to myself... saying you can’t really control all of this stuff, you just do the best you can," he says.[3] Cochrane says he was trying to make sense of the poverty he witnessed on his trip, which he found "shocking and traumatic".

Eventually, the original demo version was released on the 25th-anniversary reissue of Mad Mad World under the original title "Love is a Highway". He later said the uptempo spirit of the song came from looking for something positive to "hang the experience on."[3] Most of the vocals on the track were recorded in Cochrane's small home studio.[3] The song was Cochrane's only top-40 hit in the United States, reaching number six on the Billboard Hot 100.[4] In Canada, the song stayed at number one for two weeks, and three other singles from the album charted within the top 10; "No Regrets" peaked at number three,[5] "Sinking Like a Sunset" reached number two,[6] and "Washed Away" climbed to number seven.[7] In Australia and New Zealand, the single peaked at number two in both countries.[8][9] Elsewhere, it became a top-40 hit in Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden.[10][11][12]



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[20] Gold 35,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[23] Gold 50,000^
United States (RIAA)[24] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Music video

The original video for "Life Is a Highway" was produced by Albert Botha, who went on to be the line producer on two films for Saturday Night Live: Superstar starring Molly Shannon and The Ladies Man starring Tim Meadows. The video was shot in Alberta's Badlands, near the town of Drumheller. Many of the shots are in familiar locations along the Dinosaur Trail, including Cochrane playing guitar amid the Hoodoos and the couple, Kait Shane and Brennan Elliott, running around the car while it rides the Bleriot Ferry across the Red Deer River. It also has an older man (gas station attendant), a couple (tall man, short wife), and two women (Jacqueline and Joyce Robbins) from an Anabaptist religious order (Alberta has a population of Hutterites). The car which is featured in the music video is a 1965 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport.

The Family Guy episode "The Woof of Wall Street" features a few clips of the video throughout the episode. Another clip was used in "Tales of Former Sports Glory".

It featured in The Office episode "Employee Transfer" with the characters singing along to it throughout the episode.

Chris LeDoux version

"Life Is a Highway"
Chris LeDoux Life Is a Highway.webp
7-inch jukebox vinyl single
Single by Chris LeDoux
from the album One Road Man
B-side"Hooked on an 8 Second Ride"
LabelCapitol Nashville
Songwriter(s)Tom Cochrane
Chris LeDoux singles chronology
"Bang a Drum"
"Life Is a Highway"

In 1998, Chris LeDoux covered "Life Is a Highway" for his album One Road Man. Changes include the intro, timing of vocal entrances on the chorus, and location names between the first and second chorus. LeDoux's version was released as a single the following year and peaked at number 64 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart on June 11, 1999 and remained at the spot for nine weeks.

Music video

The music video for the song, directed by Michael Salomon,[citation needed] takes place on multiple roads and highways as well as a blue and red static themed room. When on roads and highways, there is a chance for LeDoux to appear on a television that is sitting on a sidewalk or grass, however, while the background behind LeDoux (that appears on the TV) is the same background as everything behind the TV itself, LeDoux does not appear to be standing behind the TV. In most locations, LeDoux is walking down a road as at the start of the music video. The video ends with LeDoux singing the chorus while appearing on a flap-down TV inside of someone's car, then transitioning to LeDoux being once again in the static room and then walking out of it. After LeDoux leaves the room, the screen slowly fades to black and the video ends.


Chart (1999) Peak
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[25] 64

Rascal Flatts version

"Life Is a Highway"
Single by Rascal Flatts
from the album Me and My Gang and Cars: The Soundtrack
ReleasedJune 6, 2006
GenreCountry rock
Songwriter(s)Tom Cochrane
Rascal Flatts singles chronology
"Me and My Gang"
"Life Is a Highway"
"My Wish"
"Life Is a Highway" on YouTube

In 2005, American country band Rascal Flatts recorded a cover of this song for the Pixar animated film Cars, which was released on June 9, 2006. The song sold a large quantity of digital downloads, leading to a number seven peak on the Billboard Hot 100 (one position lower than the Tom Cochrane original). In addition, the cover was placed as a bonus track on later versions of the album Me and My Gang, and also was included on their first greatest hits album. This version also won the "Favorite Song from a Movie" award at the 33rd People's Choice Awards.

The instrumental of the Rascal Flatts' cover version was prominently featured in the Top Gear: US Special, which aired February 11, 2007. The song is included on the soundtrack for Lego Rock Band. It topped the two million mark in paid downloads as of the chart dated March 28, 2009.[26] As of March 2013, the song has sold over three million copies in the US.[27] On July 14, 2015, Scott Walker, Republican Governor of Wisconsin, launched his presidential campaign as Republican Party nominee in Waukesha, Wisconsin using the song. On December 8, 2020, Harmonix announced that the cover will be featured on the video game, FUSER, as a DLC on December 10, 2020.

Music video

The music video portrays the three band members pulling into a drive-in theater driving three vintage vehicles. The cars allude to three characters from the movie: Lightning McQueen, Doc Hudson and Mater. As the projector rolls, scenes from the Disney/Pixar movie Cars are shown as the band plays through the number. It was directed by Shaun Silva.


The Rascal Flatts version subsequently became a hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it peaked at number seven. Even though it was not officially released to country radio, many country stations played the song as an album cut, overlapping with their then-current country single "My Wish". The unsolicited country airplay brought "Life Is a Highway" to number 18 on the US Hot Country Songs chart. The song has sold 3.4 million copies in the US as of June 2016.[28]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[33] Platinum 90,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[34] Gold 400,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[35] Platinum 1,000,000*

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Amazon
  2. ^ a b "Tom Cochrane - Life Is a Highway".
  3. ^ a b c d Friend, David (January 5, 2017). "Tom Cochrane reflects on success of 'Life is a Highway'". The Toronto Star/The Canadian Press.
  4. ^ a b "Tom Cochrane Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  5. ^ "RPM 100 Hit Tracks". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. February 22, 1992. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  6. ^ "RPM 100 Hit Tracks". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. May 30, 1992. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  7. ^ "RPM 100 Hit Tracks". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. November 7, 1992. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Tom Cochrane – Life Is a Highway". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  9. ^ a b "Tom Cochrane – Life Is a Highway". Top 40 Singles.
  10. ^ a b "Tom Cochrane – Life Is a Highway" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts.
  11. ^ a b "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 34, 1992" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40
  12. ^ a b "Tom Cochrane – Life Is a Highway". Singles Top 100.
  13. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 7767." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  14. ^ "Tom Cochrane – Life Is a Highway" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  15. ^ "Tom Cochrane: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  16. ^ "Tom Cochrane Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  17. ^ "Tom Cochrane Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard.
  18. ^ "Tom Cochrane Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard.
  19. ^ "RPM 100 Hit Tracks of 1991". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  20. ^ a b "ARIA Top 100 Singles for 1992". ARIA. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  21. ^ "End of Year Charts 1992". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  22. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1992". Archived from the original on July 8, 2009. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  23. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Tom Cochrane – Life Is a Highway". Music Canada. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  24. ^ "American single certifications – Tom Cochrane – Life Is a Highway". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  25. ^ "Chris LeDoux Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved August 8, 2021.
  26. ^ "Week Ending March 15, 2009: The Idol With The Most". Chart Watch. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  27. ^ Grein, Paul (March 20, 2013). "Week Ending March 17, 2013. Songs: The Great Chart Robbery Of 2013". Yahoo News Chart Watch. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  28. ^ Bjorke, Matt (June 28, 2016). "Top 30 Digital Country Singles Report: June 28, 2016". Roughstock.
  29. ^ "Rascal Flatts Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  30. ^ "Rascal Flatts Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  31. ^ "Veckolista Heatseeker, vecka 17" (in Swedish). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  32. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 Year-End 2006". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  33. ^ "Danish single certifications – Rascal Flatts – Life Is a Highway". IFPI Danmark. Retrieved 5 October 2021.
  34. ^ "British single certifications – Rascal Flatts – Life Is a Highway". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved January 26, 2021.
  35. ^ "American single certifications – Rascal Flatts – Life Is a Highway". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved December 29, 2020.

External links

  • Tom Cochrane "Life Is a Highway" music video at YouTube
  • Rascal Flatts "Life Is a Highway" music video at YouTube