The Beach Boys sang “my four-speed dual quad posi-traction 409”, a song about the
Corvette engine capable of generating 1 hp per cubic inch. Queen produced “I’m in Love With My Car,” arguably the best cruising song of all time. A typical Friday night for me back in the ‘70s was cruising in my 1967 Thunderbird playing one eight-track after another listening to those lyrics that spoke to my soul: “The machine of a dream, Such a clean machine, With the pistons a pumpin' And the hubcaps all gleam”.
Car songs and American car culture have a long and intertwined history. Numerous songs have been dedicated to cars, reflecting the fascination and passion that Americans have for automobiles. These songs speak to the joy of driving, the thrill of the open road, and the connection between cars and personal identity.
Car songs emerged as a distinct genre in the 1950s and 1960s, during the rise of rock and roll and the heyday of the American automobile industry. Many of these songs captured the youthful rebellion and the spirit of cruising. Top songs include "Maybellene" by Chuck Berry, "Little Deuce Coupe" by The Beach Boys, and "Route 66" by Nat King Cole. Car songs often celebrated the power, speed, and allure of cars and the status that came with horsepower.
Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" and “Pink Cadillac” have kept me driving well past my destination, and though I’ll never brag about my vocal harmony, I can’t not sing along with Tom Cochrane's "Life Is a Highway," a seize-the-day anthem that I’ve played on repeat countless times.
Listening to music and driving along winding roads, you can’t help but feel a sense of
freedom and escape from the demands of everyday life. The act of driving itself becomes a source of pleasure. Feeling the road beneath your tires and hearing the engine's purr all add to the experience. I believe I’ll never get old as long as I keep doing this.