Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Here in my car I feel safest of all I can lock all my doors It’s the only way to live In cars

Pick of the Week

“Cars” by Gary Numan (1979)

If you are singing along to a song when driving, say researchers, you are paying more attention to your driving.  I think they are right, but clearly I am biased. The most intimate music we play is often behind the wheel of a car.

So let’s see, what would be the perfect driving song?

The song would have to enhance the experience of the short jaunt or the long haul. For longer trips the highway sound of your wheels has to kind of blend. A song with a steady rhythm and a strong beat for starters. It probably has guitars, decent drumming, and maybe a little cowbell for good measure.

It seems like there has been a connection lost between a car and bands though these days. The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean in the sixties sang of Little Deuce Coupes, Stingrays and Jags after all. I guess if you have an environmentally friendly SUV or a subcompact car it is not that exciting really – it is about going from point A to point B.  You do hear the sub woofers pounding in any given neighborhood though from time to time, but the Yaris and the smart car are not exactly revving their engines at the light to race all the way to Deadman’s curve now are they?

Little Duece Coupe
I essentially have music on all the time when I drive. I have radio, satellite radio and mp3 music going at any given time. I look around in traffic and see each person in their own little bubble of sound. It is very much an individual experience. Like a majority of music, technology has allowed us to listen to what we want, when we want it. When we could not record music in the early days, you had to listen to bands or bards and that was pretty much always in groups. It was not the individual tailored experience we enjoy now.

Now if you have passengers in the car it changes the dynamic. Now you have to take into consideration what the other person may like or dislike. You have become an unlikely DJ of sorts. You often will not play what you usually play – you all of a sudden find yourself censoring and at the same time trying to generally guess the tastes of the other person. Once you know someone that you travel with frequently you can have your ‘Bohemian Rhapsody” moments (al la Wayne’s World).

I started making tapes for the car pretty much from the time I could drive. Compilations of songs I liked and could flip through with a press of a button. I could make cassette tapes with 20 songs or so on them. When you could burn CD’s it was better. When you could compress CD’s, once again your world of choices expanded. Now you can literally carry your entire music collection in your car on a disc drive.You can control it all now by voice (o.k. ya there are still some amusing bugs to these) or just randomize and flip through with the controls on our steering wheel. Who would have believed?

At the end of the day, with all the technology in the world, some songs are still better driving songs than others.

Top Dozen Driving Songs:

Born to be Wild - Steppenwolf
Radar Love – Golden Earring
Running Down a Dream – Tom Petty
Detroit Rock City - Kiss
Fun, Fun, Fun – Beach Boys
Highway Star – Deep Purple
I Drove All Night – Roy Orbison and Cyndi Lauper
Cars – Gary Numan
The Boys in the Bright White Sports Car - Trooper
Black Cars (Look Better in the Shade) – Gino Vanelli
Deadman’s Curve – Jan and Dean
Graceland – Paul Simon

Wherever you do decide to drive, make sure the music goes on: Drive safely!

What are your favorite driving songs?

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