"Life Is a Highway" is a song by Canadian-native Tom Cochrane. It is his only US Top-40 hit, reaching #6 in 1992. However, Cochrane is a celebrated artist within the Canadian music scene. His honors include seven Juno Awards, membership in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, being an Honorary Colonel in the Canadian Air Force, and having been inducted onto the Canadian Walk of Fame. They take their rock stars seriously in Canada.
Cochrane was also the front man and chief songwriter for the group Red Rider for ten years, and hit a few times with that group as well.Their best-known song in America is "Lunatic Fringe."
This song was inspired by Cochrane's trip to West Africa, where he was gaining exposure for the World Vision famine relief organization. He recalled to Jam! Music: "When I wrote that song after my first trip to Africa, which was just mind bending and soul sapping, I was mentally, physically and spiritually exhausted and I really needed something to pull me out of this funk. I had this sketch that I had written and I ended up going into the studio and recorded it in an hour at seven in the morning."
"The irony is that it was the most positive song I'd ever written, coming out of a pretty heavy experience. I needed a pep talk, and it became that for me and for millions of others."
Cochrane devotes a great deal of his time to activism and causes, blending them together with his music, similar to artists such as Neil Young.
Since 1992, this song has had a near-continuous popularity thanks to heavy use in commercials. These include one for Cleveland, Ohio-based bank National City Corp and one for the NBC TV series VIPER. Before you say "car commercials," that was different versions by other artists. It was most recently covered by Rascal Flatts who also got it to #7 on the Hot 100.
Rascal Flatts recorded a more kid-friendly version for the 2006 Disney movie Cars. The original version was used in the movies Cheaper by the Dozen and There Goes the Neighborhood.