Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cars: Cadillac Edition

Other cars are just cars. But a Cadillac has a special mystique. A Cadillac is... is... is.... well, it depends on who you ask. Let me show you what I mean.

Joni Mitchell: Ray's Dad's Cadillac


To Ray, his Dad's Cadillac is a car with room for a large number of teenagers to do what teenagers do in cars.

This comes from one of Joni Mitchell's best albums, and one that is too often overlooked, Night Ride Home. After diving deep into the heart of jazz, and losing a large part of her original audience, Joni signed with Geffen records, and tried her hand as a rocker. Her first two albums of this contract had some great songs, but were very uneven; stylistically, they were all over the place, with Joni searching for her new sound. All of this changed with Night Ride Home. For a brief moment, Joni found a consistent sound for an album. It was sort of a mellow folk-rock, but not wimpy. And the songwriting was possibly the best over the course of an entire album, since Hejira.

Bruce Hornsby: Rainbow's Cadillac


Rainbow's Cadillac is a powerful status symbol. It announces to the world that a very important man has just hit town.

In the liner notes to one of her albums, Kate Bush once said something I really liked: she thanked Peter Gabriel "for opening the windows". Bruce Hornsby could have said the same of the Grateful Dead. In interviews, Hornsby has told how he played it safe on his first two albums, perfecting a pop sound with new agey piano flavors Nevertheless, the members of the Grateful Dead heard something there that perhaps even Hornsby himself did not, and they invited him to join the band on tour. Musically, this liberated Hornsby. The Grateful Dead were always about playing without a net, trying new things and sometimes falling on their faces, but never being afraid to do so. Hornsby brought this new spirit to his own music, starting with the album Harbor Lights. For my money, the results were spectacular.

Southern Culture on the Skids: Voodoo Cadillac


To the unnamed narrator of "Voodoo Cadillac", the Cadillac is a chick magnet. "Get inside, and we'll take a ride to New Orleans in comfort and style". What woman could resist?

I don't really know the story of Southern Culture on the Skids. I can tell you that musically, there is a lot more where this came from. They've been at it for about 25 years now, and they show no signs of letting up. If anyone has more info about them, please feel free to share it in the comments.

Submitted by Darius

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