Top Five Car Songs

Posted: August 10, 2012 in Uncategorized
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So, just to be clear, these are not necessarily top road songs, but songs about cars or that use the car as a central metaphor. Cars were a huge part of my coming of age. My father had a 55 Ford Fairlane, the only new car that he ever purchased. His boys, including me, basically ran the car into the ground, doing brake stands and squealing tires down Churchill Drive in Winnipeg. Tragic. I’ve always had the fantasy of buying a reconditioned 55 and driving it up to my father’s house with a big ribbon and bow.   I picked my first love up in that car, got my driver’s license in it the day I turned sixteen, went fishing in it with my brothers and fathers to Hazel Creek at the crack of dawn. I drove it to Grand Beach, Lake Winnipeg for our weekend volleyball tournaments, and more times than I care to remember, she got this drunken sot home from the infamous Winnipeg “socials”. I wrote a song about her, which I’ll spare you, but here’s the first verse.

I was born in the year of the 55 Ford,
Pink and white two-tone on a prairie road.
Elvis was singing, my daddy was drinking
beers with the boys and makin’ lots of noise.
But my mom made him choose.
It was her or the booze.

1. The Beach Boys, Little Deuce Coupe

Topping the list, Little Deuce Coupe by the Beach Boys.

2. Bruce Springsteen, Pink Cadillac

The next one is still one of my favorite workout songs, third set of squats, when I’m tempted to bail early. Written by Jerry Lee Lewis, but Brooose’s version gives me the juice to finish strong.

3. Tracy Chapman, Fast Car

What is it about Tracy Chapman that when she starts singing you just feel like crying? Here the car is a metaphor for freedom. In a Fast Car, the subject innocently imagines that her boyfriend’s car has the power to transport them to a world free from poverty, class, and their dead-end life. Remember how the womb-like interior of a car was a place where dreams of your future gestated and sometimes even got fertilized!

4. Golden Earring, Radar Love

In the summers my buddies and I would worked planting trees for the city of Winnipeg at Bird’s Hill Park. Waso would pick us up in his father’s Ford LTD at the crack of dawn, laden with sandwiches and enough Kool Aid to make it through the hot prairie day. When we hit the perimeter, it was pedal to the metal the whole way. We’d get the old beast up to 130 mph, windows down, and more often than not we could count on Radar Love being on the set list of our favorite radio station.

5. Chuck Berry, No Particular Place to Go

There is a spiritual state associated with driving a car, especially when you are still young and are inclined to let life unfold rather than over-engineer it. Life comes to you, rather than you having to make it happen. And “driving around” with no particular agenda was a big part of my growing up was a kind of zen practice. I didn’t quite have the luxury of unfettered access to the car, as we had to share amongst five or six, but Dave Korven owned a very cool GTO (if I’m not mistaken). We’d pack five or six in and just start driving, with a supply of decent B.C. bud.  Chuck Berry captures this adventurous spirit (but with a girl and not the boys) in No Particular Place to Go.

This week’s post was written by my friend Bruce, who regularly blogs on spiritual matters. Check it out.

Next week I will be back on the keyboard with Top Five Live at the Fillmore Albums.

  1. earthboy011 says:

    There are so many to choose from. Even so,Chuck Berry’s Maybellene has to make the top 5 as does Neil Young’s Long May You Run. Who else but Neil could write a love song to a car? Kind of like Roy Rogers writing a love song to Trigger. Honourable mentions have to go to Little Old Lady From Pasadena, Dean Man’s Curve, 409, Shutdown, Fun Fun Fun, GTO, Hey Little Cobra, Mercury Blues. And, of course, there is my own car song, Galaxie 500. speaking of Fords, that 55 Fairlane was definitely a classic.

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