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5/23/2007 11:51:00 AM
Great Songs About Cars, Driving and Racing
The Beach Boys "Fun, fun, fun" is a summer classic.
By John Rolfe, SI.com
Memorial Day Weekend is the traditional home of the Indy 500 and the start of the summer driving season. What better time to put the top or windows down, crank the tunes, and head out to the highway?
Check that. With fuel prices on a rocket ride, an appropriate driving anthem is NRBQ's Get That Gasoline Blues. Best known for the song Ridin' In My Car, the Q produced this obscure -- but screaming for mainstream exposure -- gem on their album Workshop. Sample lyrics: I tried to come over last night but my car ain't got no fuel/The way things are going, I might as well get me a mule. By the way, the song first appeared in 1973, when gas was, as keyboardist Terry Adams exclaims, "Forty cents a gallon!"
Even if you've got gas pains and are going nowhere fast, there are still plenty of rippin' good songs about cars, driving and racing to be had for, well, a song. Here are my top five:
5. Jerry Was a Racecar Driver (Primus): Les Claypool's loopy tale of a 22-year old kid who drove so goddamned fast/He never did win no checkered flag, but he never did come in last. Kind of like Robby Gordon. The pummeling car-crash guitar-bass-drums assault sets up our hero Jerry's tragic demise: Had too many cold beers one night/And wrapped himself around a telephone pole.
4. Fun Fun Fun (Beach Boys): Brian Wilson and Co. delivered a truckload of classic car songs -- Little Deuce Coupe, 409 and Shut Down among them, but I'll go with this ode to joyriding in a Ford Thunderbird. It even references this weekend's main event: Well the girls can't stand her 'cause she walks, looks and drives like an ace now/She makes the Indy 500 look like a Roman chariot race now...
3. Voodoo Cadillac (Southern Culture on the Skids): If you've ever taken your honey to one of those dusty, half-mile ovals for a lustrous evening of watching the junker stocks fly, you're bound to get misty listening to this band's epic album Dirt Track Date. Pure high crass. Fried Chicken and Gasoline is recommended, but Voodoo Cadillac is a brilliantly sleazy, swamp-guitar-driven celebration of drivin' down to Naw'luns with the FM stereo on. Coolsville, mannnn.
2. '65 Mustang (Five For Fighting): John Ondrasik's infectious salute to the car in which his father drove him home from the hospital as a newborn and that later became his own ride. Besides the nod to family history, Ondrasik nails the liberating thrill of driving fast on hot wheels: She's been four colors/We've broken forty laws/She goes where she wants/No matter what the cost.
1. Highway Star (Deep Purple): No trip's complete without old school metal. The opening track on Purple's milestone Machine Head is all dizzying acceleration from the chug of the opening rhythm to Ian Gillan's multi-tracked banshee scream to the whirlwind guitar and organ breaks by Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord respectively. Nobody gonna take my car/I’m gonna race it to the ground/Nobody gonna beat my car/It's gonna break the speed of sound/Oooh its a killing machine/It's got everything... Guaranteed to nudge you and your loved one well past the 55 mph limit as the cherry tops come on behind you.
Okay. Gentlemen -- and ladies -- start your lists. What are your favorites?
You honestly can't have a list of greatest car songs without a single Bruce Springsteen song on it. "Racin' in the Streets", "Thunder Road", etc. He has so many you could make a ton 5 of his! I like the list though other than that.
I'm in love with my car - Queen Locked in the trunk of a car - Tragically Hip Rumbleseat - Mellencamp Rolling down the highway - BTO Let it ride - BTO Hitch a ride - Boston Ol 55 - Eagles She loves my automobile - ZZ Top
Ike Turner's "Rocket 88", Cake's other car manifesto, "Stickshifts and Safetybelts" (sample lyrics: Stickshifts and safetybelts/ Bucket seats have all got to go./ When we're driving in the car,/ It makes my baby seem so far./ I need you here with me,/ Not way over in a bucket seat.) and if you like funny like I do, Adam Sandler's "Ode To My Car" (aka POS Car)
"Miller, Jack, and Mad Dog" Wayne "The Train" Hancock. with verses like "Last night I saw a bunch of kids/ Swerving down route 1/ They's goin' fast as lightening/ Lord I guess they's havin' fun/ They tried to take the corner/ But they couldn't hold the turn/ I saw them hit the tree line/ as their hot rod flipped and burned/ Miller Jack and Mad Dog will do you everytime, but their no good for staying to the right side of that line/ If Johnny Law don't get you/ Somebody else could die/ So do yourself a favor/ Don't go driving while you're high!"
c'mon for chrissakes.....how 'bout some REAL hot rod songs....eddie hill,daytona,super-six,hemicuda & galaxy 500 by those seattle speed merchants...ZEKE.honorable mention goes to rev.horton heat's "big red rocket of love" & "400 bucks".....want more? bottle rockets "$1000 car".your welcome....email@example.com
1. Kickstart My Heart - Crue 2. Radar Love - Golden Earring 3. Driver's Seat - Sniff'n'the Tears. 4. Bad Motor Scooter - Montrose 5. Real Gone - Sheryl Crow (Cars) 6. Red Barchetta - Rush 7. Fuel - Metallica 8. Black Sunshine - Rob Zombie 9. Highway Star - Deep Purple 10. Mota - Offspring
I could keep going but I have to say that I'm shocked no-one mentioned Kickstart by Crue. Guaranteed to drop my right foot a couple of inches.
Reverend Horton Heat - Big Red Rocket Of Love Reverend Horton Heat - Five-O Ford Reverend Horton Heat - Like A Rocket Reverend Horton Heat - Like A Rocket (2002 Daytona 500 version) Reverend Horton Heat - Galaxy 500 Reverend Horton Heat - Suicide Doors Reverend Horton Heat - The Happy Camper Reverend Horton Heat - Rumble Strip Reverend Horton Heat - Sleeper Coach Driver Reverend Horton Heat - 400 Bucks Mike Ness - I'm In Love W/ My Car Social Distortion - Highway 101 The Clash - Brand New Cadillac Johnny Cash - One Piece At A Time
Then best car song is probably either "Ridin Dirty" by Chamillionaire, "Showstoppers" by Danity Kane, "Automobile" by NWA, "King Kong", by Jibbs, "Top Let Back" by T.I., and that highway song by Rascal Flats.
Oh man, so manny songs, so little space. Not necessarily my top 5 but they are definitely up there.
5 Slow ride - Fog Hat 4 Radar Love - Sniff and the Tears 3 Paradise by the dashboard Light - Meatloaf 2 You've got Personality - No idea who sang this 1 Hot Rod Lincoln - Johny Cash's version do disrespect to Comander Cody
Jan & Dean - Dead Man's Curve Golden Earring - Radar Love Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road Foghat - Slow Ride The Doobie Bros - Rockin Down the Highway The Rip Chords - Hey Little Cobra Bruce Springsteen - Pink Cadillac
Excuse me, but let's credit Johnny Bond with Hot Rod Lincoln, most of us original rodders got started with Mr. bond. But Rocket 88 by Jackie Bernston paved th e way for our modern car songs, and created space for the likes of Ronnie and the Daytona's Little GTO. No Particular Place To Go by Chuck Berry was the theme song for the beginning of cruz night at Bob's on Van Nuys Blvd. We ahd fun with Beep Beep by the Playmates, and my children enjoyed sining Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for hours on end as we traveled on vacation. The modern singers have done a nice job, but with out the originals, we would'nt have theme songs for our car culture. Every car guy my age, 60's has his own theme music embedded in his mind, and it plays as he backs out of the driveway on cruz night. Even if only when we dream of old cars, pretty girls and warm southern california nights.
I have to add my vote for Rush's "Red Barchetta". Not only do the lyrics exude that great feeling of "love of driving," but it tells a story and musically has a great sense of building to a frenetic ending!
Here are the full lyrics:
My uncle has a country place, that no one knows about He says it used to be a farm, before the motor law On Sundays I elude the eyes and hop the turbine freight To far outside the wire, where my white-haired uncle waits.
Jump to the ground As the turbo slows to cross the borderline Run like the wind, As excitement shivers up and down my spine Down in his barn My uncle preserved for me, an old machine --- For fifty-odd years To keep it as new has been his dearest dream
I strip away the old debris, that hides a shining car A brilliant red Barchetta, from a better, vanished time I fire up the willing engine, responding with a roar Tires spitting gravel, I commit my weekly crime...
Wind in my hair --- Shifting and drifting --- Mechanical music --- Adrenalin surge ---
Well-weathered leather Hot metal and oil The scented country air Sunlight on chrome The blur of the landscape Every nerve aware
Suddenly, ahead of me, across the mountainside A gleaming alloy air-car shoots towards me, two lanes wide I spin around with shrieking tires, to run the deadly race Go screaming through the valley as another joins the chase
Drive like the wind Straining the limits of machine and man Laughing out loud With fear and hope, I've got a desperate plan
At the one-lane bridge I leave the giants stranded At the riverside Race back to the farm To dream with my uncle At the fireside...