Ever since radios started popping up in cars, music and car culture have been inextricably linked, and everyone has a strong opinion about both. While the Grammy Awards honor the best music of 2007, we wanted to dig a little deeper and pay tribute to the top 10 songs ever written about cars.
10. “Red Barchetta” – Rush In an era where large SUVs seem to block out the sun and the U.S. government is trying its darndest to regulate fuel economy, a 1981 sci-fi song about a nearly extinct Ferrari doesn’t seem so far off. Although the abundant safety features in today’s cars may not lead to the reckless driving mentioned in the song, it’s a scary future for any sports-car nut.
9. “I Can’t Drive 55” – Sammy Hagar Some musicians use their talent to rail against political injustice, war and poverty. Sammy Hagar, however, used his musical gifts to protest a federally imposed maximum speed limit. The song isn’t actually about one car, and the former Van Halen frontman’s talent may be questionable, but the song is still enjoyed by speed enthusiasts everywhere; it was rerecorded for NASCAR as “I Can’t Drive 65.”
8. “Bitchin’ Camaro” – Dead Milkmen How did a song that includes a two-minute dialog about going to the shore and seeing a Doors cover band make it on our list? Well, we’re not entirely sure, but we dare you to listen to it and not want to do doughnuts on your neighbor’s lawn.
7. “Let Me Ride” – Dr. Dre The lyrics aren’t even kinda close to being G-rated (we don’t recommend singing it at your next office karaoke outing), but that doesn’t diminish its importance as a song about cars. One look at the video, featuring shots of Compton, Snoop Dogg and a cameo from Ice Cube, and it’s clear why this is a West Coast rap classic.
6. “Drive My Car” – The Beatles How do you know you’ve made it? According to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it’s when you can afford a chauffeur. The wannabe starlet in the song may not yet be famous enough to actually have a car, but she already has a driver lined up. Lindsay and Britney, are you taking notes? You should be.
5. “Mustang Sally” – Wilson Pickett Pickett wasn’t the first to record “Mustang Sally,” but he’s the one who put it on the map. Luckily for Pickett and everyone who’s covered it since, this blues standard sounds just as relevant now as it did more than 40 years ago.
4. “Low Rider” – War With its distinctive bass line and the lead singer’s deep growl, this song begs to be blasted while cruising. Hydraulically modified classic cars are an important chapter of American car culture, and considering the number of times this song has been covered and sampled, it’s clear neither the song nor the car is going to fade out anytime soon.
3. “Fun, Fun, Fun” – The Beach Boys This list could have easily included three or four Beach Boys tunes, but in the interest of variety we limited it to the one we consider most universal. For many teens, car keys equal freedom, and what 16-year-old hasn’t daydreamed about borrowing his parents’ T-Bird — or really sweet minivan — and playing hooky?
2. “Pink Cadillac” – Bruce Springsteen Originally released as a B-side to “Dancing in the Dark,” “Pink Cadillac” is one of many Springsteen songs to feature car imagery. Regardless of what you think the song is actually about, the description of the car will make you wish you were driving something other than a responsible four-door sedan with antilock brakes.
1. “Little Red Corvette” – Prince “Little Red Corvette” isn’t the only song to equate a woman with a car, but it is probably one of the most blatantly sexual of those songs. Fortunately, Prince was smart enough to disguise the references just enough to get the song past the censors. Despite the innuendo, “Little Red Corvette” is still considered one of Prince’s biggest hits, and was often the first song that came to mind when we asked people to name their favorite car song.