Pedal to the Metal

Golden Earring, Radar Love, Album coverAh, the open road.

It calls with a cry so specifically American. Lauded and romanticized in writing, film, television, and music for decades. (Pretty much since there were cars to drive.)

I remember when the soundtrack for driving long distances required either a satchel of cassette tapes or playing the “Gee, let’s see what kind of radio stations come in here” every hour or so (I was usually driving through mountains).

These days, I just link up my phone to the car audio system and put my entire music collection on random.

Needless to say, I kind of have a mile long list for this particular prompt.

A song to drive to

I’ve noticed that a good bunch of the music I’ve been listing is from the 70s. As I explained right up front, that’s the stuff I grew up on. It’s also the stuff that’s most deeply set in my mind.

I know there’s a lot of newer stuff that I’ve heard that would fit great… but I can never remember any of it when I sit down to crank out one of these posts.

But this time around, I really do think most of the really great driving music is from the heyday of muscle cars and drive-ins… so, between the 50s and mid-80s. And most of the stuff from the 50s isn’t exactly “driving music” so much as it’s “music about driving, cars, and parking.” The 60s has a lot of “road trippin’ music.” It’s when the 70s come in and rock takes a much more rough roll that I think we hit that sweet spot for really being behind the wheel.

Granted, the best driving music isn’t always the best music to keep you obeying all the rules of the road. (Just ask Sammy Hagar about that.)

I’ve always really liked Golden Earring’s Radar Love. The beat and lyrics are literally driving and the whole subject of the song is getting from point A to point B… quickly. With some complications, of course. It tells a good story and that’s important to me. Even when I’m behind the wheel.

The funny thing about all this, if you’re not aware, is that I’m really not a car guy. I don’t really like driving (but I dislike not driving a bit more… or so I’ve been reminded for a while now). And driving music is just awesome.

Runners Up

  • Roger Miller, King of the Road –  One of the original road-trip songs. Also a solid pick for karaoke. Plus I’ve known the lyrics to this one since I had my first car. It was on one of the tapes I used to listen to while driving long distances.
  • Dire Straits, Calling Elvis – A more laid back driving song, but still one that pushes you forward. Plus, the video has the Thunderbirds in it. No, not the stunt-flying jets, the marionettes.
  • Henry Mancini, Peter Gunn – Yes, I’ve seen episodes of the show. But I put a lot more quarters into the Spy Hunter game in the arcade. Most importantly, I’m a fan of The Blues Brothers.
About Kier

I've been on the web since about 1994. I have a background in a lot of things, including a five year stint as a journalist and over a decade of helping people get their message out to the world.

I write on a number of subjects--everything from relationships to personal development to politics and every day life. I hope you get something worthwhile out of it.

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