Americans love their cars. From the Model-T to the Prius, you’ll find enthusiasts for anything that ever rolled off the assembly line. The Nash Rambler, the Corvair, The Edsel. It doesn’t matter, someone out there collects them or belongs to a club of fellow devotees. For a lot of folks, cars represent freedom and independence, for others they’re hard-earned symbols of success, and for some they’re simply a way to compensate for whatever they otherwise lack. We celebrate the automobile in a lot of ways. We have car museums, car magazines, car shows, and car rallys. And we’ve been singing about ‘em since at least 1915 when Billy Murray sang “Little Ford Rambled Right Along.” And while it’s true that we love cars in general, we have a special affinity for fast cars with big engines. The muscle car. From the Beach Boys’ “Little Deuce Coupe” to Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” there are more songs about cars and driving than maybe any single subject other than love. So today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl combines the two; it’s all about our love for hemis and flat-heads , twin-choke carburetors and overhead cams.
Oddly enough, I got the idea for the set while listening to Simon and Garfunkle, not exactly the first group that comes to mind when thinking of V-8 engines. But there it was, at the end of “Baby Driver” the sound of a big car engine, revving up and flying by with the Doppler effect. Off the top of my head I could think of two other songs with the same sound effect at one end or the other, perfect for segues. Then I found a third, the somewhat obscure “Stick Shift” by a group called The Duals. After that, we’ll make some Thunderbirds, visit the “Cadillac Ranch” and cruise around playing the radio with no particular place to go. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.
|Simon & Garfunkle||Baby Driver|
|The Steve Miller Band||Living in the U.S.A.|
|The Duals||Stick Shift|
|The Beach Boys||409|
|Chuck Berry||No Particular Place to Go|
|ZZ Top||She Loves My Automobile|
|Bob Seger||Makin’ Thunderbirds|
|Bruce Springsteen||Cadillac Ranch|
|Steve Earle||Sweet Little ’66|
|The Beatles||Drive My Car|
The Beatles wrapping up our ode to the automobile with “Drive My Car.” Before that, we drove by the “Cadillac Ranch.” One of six songs about cars or driving from Bruce’s album The River. Elsewhere in the set, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, “Makin’ Thunderbirds” and ZZ Top singing about how “She Loves My Automobile.” Then we found Chuck Berry parked out there by the Kokomo, trying to get that girl’s belt loose but couldn’t.
Now a funny thing about the first half of that set: We started off with four songs tied together by the sound effect of big, revving car engines. We heard The Steve Miller Band’s “Living in the USA” which isn’t even ABOUT cars. He mentions diaticians, televisions, politicians, and mortitions but no cars. But he opens and closes the tune with that sound effect of racing cars. Before that, “Baby Driver” from Bridge Over Troubled Water where Paul Simon at least scoots down the road, wondering how your engine feels. Then there was The Duals, an obscure guitar duo from 1961, doing an instrumental called “Stick Shift” which was the only clue it was a car song until they added that engine sound effect. So it turns out the only track in the first half of the set that was literally about cars was The Beach Boys “409.” Well, I could go on all day playing car songs but I gotta go wax the “Pink Cadillac” and take “Mustang Sally” for a ride. From the Way Back Studios, I’m Bill Fitzhugh. Thanks for listening. I’ll be back before you can say “Hot Rod Lincoln” and I’ll have a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl, bored and stroked, so I hope join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.