Music to Drive To

Since its creation it didn’t take long for the automobile to work its way into our popular culture. You can watch TV shows and movies about cars. You can play racing video games and read books about them. Of course you can also listen to any number of songs about them as well. In fact, car songs have made up some of the most memorable songs around. Let’s look at some.

Going back in time to the 1980′s will reveal two little car song gems, once from Prince and one from Natalie Cole. The first is “Pink Cadillac” from Natalie Cole. Technically it wasn’t from her. It was originally written by Bruce Springsteen in 1984 and released as a B side on the album “Dancing in the Dark.” The song had moderate radio success and reached 27 on the Billboard charts but it wasn’t until Natalie covered it in 1988 that it reached the top ten. For the record it isn’t about Mary Kay products but is a sexual euphemism.

The other song we mentioned was Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” on the 1999 album. This song about the storied Chevy was Prince’s first song to hit the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 landing at a solid number six. Equally important it was his first song that did better on the pop charts then the R&B charts, largely due to its poppy chorus. While Chevy couldn’t ask for better promotion most people fail to realize this is also a sexual euphemism.

There are many other famous songs about cars (and sex) such as The Beatles “Drive My Car” and Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally” but one song rises above all the rest to claim the title of best car song and that would be Don McLean’s “American Pie.” Written in 1971 this song was a metaphor for the good old days or rock ‘n roll and the deaths or rock legends Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, who all died together in a plane crash in 1959. The phrase “drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry,” has become one of the memorable lyrics in music history. It was number one on the Billboards for four weeks straight and inspired the Roberta Flack song “Killing Me Softly.” It is a song of the glory days that have since come and gone and few songs are as important as “American Pie.”