By on December 30, 2009

“They don’t write songs about Volvos,” proclaimed an infamous Chevy billboard once seen in the Detroit area. Of course it wasn’t strictly true, but then Chevy’s two most recent forays into musical marketing, Volt Jingles versions 1 and 2, weren’t exactly “Little Red Corvette” either. And the trend seems to be holding: quality car-inspired music is slipping away. Even this song, the first Saab-inspired tune I’m aware of, is a wholly forgettable drone about fighting Saab’s inevitable closure. It’s not as bombastically awful as, say, the infamous Mercedes “One Goal” tune, but you know automotive culture is in trouble when the only music it inspires is about the closure of a niche Swedish nameplate. Unless the lyrics “we’re gonna make it, not gonna break it” has some kind of mysterious resonance for the daily Saab driver that I’m not getting. Either way, the world of car-inspired music needs some work.

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29 Comments on “The State Of Car-Inspired Music Sucks...”


  • avatar

    Maybe the “we’re gonna make it, not gonna break it” is in reference to all the old hoontastic Saab 96 rally jumps?

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Other than Rush’s “Red Barchetta”, I can’t think of a decent song about a car since “Duece Coupe”…..

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Wow what a sucky, generic tune. And what an interesting blog topic.
    I just looked into my itunes to see if anything I downloaded or stole this past year had anything to do with cars. Admittedly I’m middle-aged, so this is not representative, but it is as Ed says it is: Fleet Foxes, MGMT, Sparklehorse, Grizzly Bear and Franz Ferdinand don’t seem to give a shxt about motoring.
    I imagine that there will be some twentyish Swedish popsters that compose ditties about cars, but I don’t know them. Do you? Until then, the impression remains that the young sexy creative folks who play in bands perceive driving to be something that commuters do. Woebegone!

    • 0 avatar
      Boff

      Yeah my iPod is filled with bands like that…definitely motoring is not a broad passion amongst the younger set. But check out “Drugs” by the Black Lips. They mention riding around in a Plymouth Barracuda…a car not made  in the their lifetimes…but it rhymes well with “B.C. buddah”.
       
      My favourite car song is Neil Young’s “Long May You Run”…though it took me 20 years to figure out it was about a car.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Well, my ’60’s collection aside (where we’d expect to find some, anyway), this is all I’ve got in iTunes from the 70’s on:

      “Silver Thunderbird” – by Marc Cohn
      “’92 Subaru” – Fountains of Wayne

      I’m a bit surprised to find I have even two.

  • avatar
    LectroByte

     
    Thanks for the links to the Chevy billboards… kinda telling, though, that they can’t find anything much newer than 1972 or so to put on one though.

  • avatar
    Ken_DFA

    You guys should check out the Devil Dogs’ epic “My GTO” from the mid-1990’s.    (Totally different from the song of the same name by Ronnie and the Daytonas.)
    -Ken

  • avatar
    KixStart

    You can’t commission a good car song.  Build a good car – or engine – and the songs will come to you.

    “C’mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out GTO!” – Jan & Dean

  • avatar
    educatordan

    What, no video of the Trailblazer (errrr… 9-7) in that montage?
     
    Still prefer “Old Yellow Car” (the original, not the Rascal Flats remake for a Disney movie) that song has always been special to me cause my Uncle Tim had a Yellow Opel GT when I was just old enough to be aware of cars.
     
    “Somewhere in a pile of rubber and steel, there’s a rusted old shell of an automobile, and if engines could be bought on desire alone, that old yellow car would be driving me home.”

  • avatar
    racebeer

    It’s been downhill ever since Ronny and the Daytonas did “Little GTO” in 1964.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      One of the best, relatively recent car commercial songs was Kleiner GTI. It was a clever remake of Little GTO, sung entirely in German, while a pair of red and black 1984 VW GTIs were seen racing and getting airborne around a test track, itself a sort of takeoff on the Mini Coopers from The Italian Job.

      Although it wasn’t a car song (but was more recent, in 1996), a close second would be Van Halen’s version of You Really Got Me, played while ‘Nick’, a GI Joe-like ‘action figure’ (don’t call it a doll) makes his way to pick-up ‘Roxanne’ (obviously Barbie) in a toy Nissan 300ZX.

    • 0 avatar

       
      Loved that ad!
       

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Nothing new here:
    http://www.partykc.com/blog/2009/01/top-50-car-songs-of-all-time.html
    http://www.cargurus.com/blog/2009/02/06/the-best-car-songs-ever

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Good lists but missed a couple, one understandable (and one not):1. My SS 396 – Paul Revere and the Raiders. Never as popular or as good as others of the era but okay.

      2. Rocket 88 – Jackie Brensten and His Delta Cats (but really Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm). Recorded in 1951, generally regarded as the first rock and roll song.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Martin,

      Interpretations may differ but those didn’t all seem to be “car songs,” some could be better described as “traveling songs” or “driving songs.”

      Rudiger,

      Nissan scored two great SuperBowl commercials, in back to back years, first with the great one you describe and then a commercial featuring a flock of birds (lead bird  voiced by John Ratzenberger) pursuing a black Nissan, fresh from the carwash, attempting to “bomb” it to the music of  “Danger Zone,” if I recall correctly.

    • 0 avatar
      jimmy2x

      God, I’m old enough to remember “Hot Rod Lincoln” (back when they were).  And I always thought that “Stranded in the Jungle” by the Cadets was the 1st Rock n’ Roll” song (at least according to Hy Lit of Philly broadcasting fame).

  • avatar
    jonotron

    Griiffin up is a very poor effort. Could do with getting a hold of Tori Amos’ Driving in my Saab though. Might remind me of an arty girl across the road that drives a !987 900…

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    On reading “They don’t write songs about Volvos” my immediate response was “Volvo Driving Soccer Mom” by Everclear, which at least mentions Volvos.  OTOH Poe’s “Hey Pretty” does describe driving a BMW through the canyons, along some nsfw leather. I’d also throw in Adam Sandler’s hilarious “Piece of Sh*t Car” clearly written about a Chrysler Sebring.

  • avatar

    The Volvo Driving Soccer Mom is hilarious, if a bit long. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xK_XWH7Ryd4&feature=player_embedded
    I think the decline of good car songs mirrors the decline of cars as icons since the ’60s. Gonna have to look for Adam Sandler’s Sebring song

  • avatar
    mpresley

    Roger Christian penned it and Brian Wilson set it to music.  Nothing comes close:

    Pedals to the floor hear his dual quads drink
    But now the 413’s lead is startin’ to shrink
    He’s hot with ram induction but it’s understood
    I got a fuel injected engine sitting under my hood…

  • avatar
    russification

    no vocals, is the secret recipe…….no words, singing is more often than not irritating
    an attractive lineup of cars indeed,

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Well I liked the song and the video, at least the first minute and a half of it.

    It had musicality, that much came through even on my laptop’s cheap speakers.

  • avatar
    2Goldens

    Eeewwww…Kenny Loggins Lite. Faux heavy-metal guitar, lame lyrics. Can you say “embarrassing cliche?” Maybe the lyrics sound better translated into Chinese. “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC would have been a better choice.

    If Saab had built more cars like the prototypes in this video, they wouldn’t need dumb-$hit videos like these to resurrect the brand. ‘Loved the first prototype in the video with the entire passenger door system that moves forward…although I’d REALLY hate to get t-boned in that thing.

    Farewell, Saab…we hardly knew ye.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    The song is not only banal, it’s too long.   If this is the level of enthusiasm left for Saab, I can say this brand is not off to automotive Valhalla, that is reserved for those who went down fighting.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Chevy Van!!!!!
    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=chevy+van&search_type=&aq=f

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