Saturday, August 9, 2008

Cars: Bitchin' Camaro

Hey Jack... what's happenin'...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Cars: Drive My Car

David Crosby: Drive My Car


It was one of those nights when you drive
Right by your own street
And you wonder who's running
Your hands and your feet

And your car becomes a capsule
Sometimes you can hide
Last night I just needed
I needed to ride

Sometimes, when the world starts to feel like something that happens to you, and you feel like you've lost all power over your own destiny, a car is the perfect haven: an island of control, and a bubble of peace amidst the chaos. Recorded several times over three decades, both by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and by songwriter David Crosby as a solo artist, Drive My Car is a perfect fit for Crosby's infamously turbulent lifestyle, and a perfect showcase for Crosby's sentimental, anthemic folk rock at its electric best, with and without Stills, Nash, and sometimes Young; this nominally solo outtake, released on CSNY B-sides collection Carry On, is my favorite version.

Cars: Motorcade

Danny Michel: Motorcade


This time, I would like to thank Fongolia of Fong Songs. Based in Vancouver, he presents cover songs with a Canadian accent. I have learned of many wonderful Canadian artists on Fong Songs who I never would have heard otherwise. One of these is Danny Michel.

Danny Michel's Myspace assigns him to the musical genre "folkrock/ experimental/ pop". If I hadn't heard his songs, I would have no idea what that means. He used to be in a band calling Starling, whose music is described as powerpop. So he is musically adventurous. He once recorded an entire album of David Bowie covers, called Loving the Alien.

"Motorcade" involves another kind of adventurousness. Michel was inspired to write the lyrics based on an account of a mugging of a Guatemalan couple. From there, I assume he did some research. One verse starts this way:

An effigy of Maximon
I've come to make my wish
A hole was drilled where his mouth was filled with wine and cigarettes

Maximon is the modern-day form of the pre-Colombian deity Mam. In modern practice, an effigy of Maximon resides in someone's house for a year; during Holy Week, there is a procession, and the effigy is moved to its new home for the next year. Perhaps this procession is the motorcade of the title? I'm not sure. As described in the lyrics, wine and cigarettes are believed to be Maximon's preferred offerings.

And then there's the music. If you are well versed in classical music, you might have recognized the melody. It's from the slow movement of Shubert's Second Piano Trio. Danny Michel was one of several Canadian artists who were commissioned to create a song based on this work by the Art of Time Ensemble, for one of their performances. The Art of Time Ensemble is a collective of classical and jazz musicians who have created an ongoing series of performances in collaboration with Canadian artists from the worlds of music, dance and theater.

As you can gather from all of this, there is quite a lively arts scene in Canada that most Americans no nothing about. Fong Songs has, in a small way, helped me do something about that.

Submitted by Darius

Cars: Traffic Jam

James Taylor: Traffic Jam


Someone wise once said that the plural of cars is traffic. Here, infamous folk crooner James Taylor at his white man's grooviest, live and almost funky in a middle-aged, "oh, Dad" sort of way, takes a lighthearted swipe at the commuter lifestyle. And how's this for commitment to the theme:

When I die, I don't want no coffin
I've thought about far too often
Just strap me in behind the wheel
And bury me in my automobile

Fans of a capella covers will also enjoy this tight take on JT's original:

Da Vinci's Notebook: Traffic Jam [out of print]

Cars: MGB-GT

While researching this post, I discovered an astounding thing: Richard Thompson had never made an appearance on Star Maker Machine! Fortunately, this little gem fits our theme perfectly.

Richard Thompson: MGB-GT


If anyone needs an introduction, Richard Thompson was one of the founding members of Fairport Convention, the group that can be justly credited with inventing British folk-rock. After leaving Fairport, Thompson and wife Linda recorded as a duo for many years, producing well known songs such as "Shoot Out the Lights", "Wall of Death", and many more. Their divorce made Richard Thompson a solo act, And the song I've chosen is typical of the results, although one song cannot accurately reflect his range.

To give you an idea of Richard Thompson's personality, a few years back Rolling Stone magazine asked a number of artists, including Thompson, to name the best song of the millennium. Others came back with various classic rock songs. But Thompson wanted to show them what a stupid question this was, so he came back with a madrigal from the 1600's. And that wasn't the end of the story. Thompson became inspired, and recorded a wonderful album called "One Thousand Years of Popular Music". So the moral of the story is, if you want to ask Richard Thompson a question, make sure you mean what you say.

Submitted by Darius

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cars: Beach Boys

I break down the Murry Wilson-managed Beach Boys into three periods: Surf, Hot Rod and Brian Wilson's bedroom-written songs, his agoraphobic output.

It was a great creative time for the band - highly honed Pop songs with strong melodies and sharp harmonies, backed by some of Los Angeles' best session musicians. Here's a collection of Beach Boy car songs from the Hot Rod section of their career - enjoy!

Beach Boys: 409


This is about the Chevrolet 409, a 409 cubic inch W-series V8 engine popular with hot rodders of the day - it was dubbed Turbo-Fire, could generate up to 360 horsepower going zero to 60 miles per hour in 4 seconds. One of the lyricists, Gary Usher, at the time was coveting the 409 (pictured above). The engine noises at the beginning of the tune were from Usher's Chevrolet 348, the W-series predecessor to the 409.

Beach Boys: Little Deuce Coupe


A deuce is a Ford car produced in 1932, the 2 in 1932 is the deuce. Most of them had big V8 engines and were perfect for drag racing - the one The Beach Boys sing about is the Ford Model B. The Model Bs were easily modified, the song mentions the flat head mill and lake pipes.

Beach Boys: Shut Down


Like Little Deuce Coupe, Shut Down is another Brian Wilson and Roger Christian composition. Mike Love's name was added as a result of a lawsuit filed by him against Wilson in the 1990s.

This one's about a drag race between a 413 cubic-inch Super-Stock 1962 Dodge Dart and a fuel injected 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. My money's on the Stingray.

Beach Boys: Fun, Fun, Fun


Fun, Fun, Fun, written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, was about Shirley England, the daughter of the owner of radio station KNAK in Salt Lake City, Utah. She borrowed her father's Ford Thunderbird to go study at the library but ended up at a hamburger stand instead. When her daddy found out, he took the T-bird away.

The Wilsons' father, Murry, claimed the song was immoral and tried to prevent the group from recording it - later, it became a top-five hit. In short time, Murry had The Beach Boys taken away and was fired as their manager.

Souped Up Bonus:

Beach Boys: I Get Around


Cars: Precision Auto

Superchunk: Precision Auto [purchase]

"Do not pass me,
Just to slow down,
I will move right through you."

Before the strings and introspection and soft-rock impulses kicked in, Superchunk was a take-no-prisoners rock band. From their formation in 1989 through maybe 1996, you could always hear the new wave English influences (The Cure, Echo And The Bunnymen, The Smiths, e.g.) bubbling under, but they filtered that precious jangle through crunchy ... some might say, chunky ... intertwining guitars and pure punk rock energy. While they became too twee for my tastes, Superchunk remains one of the best examples of the post-punk DIY American underground you're ever gonna find. At every step of their career they did it their way, on their terms, with little corporate/conglomerate/multinational something-or-another influence getting in the way. Much respect.

"Precision Auto" is the leadoff track from their third album, On The Mouth, and was their first to feature new drummer, Jon Wurster, who ratcheted up the ass-kicking quotient dramatically with his heavy, yet fluid drum sound. Produced by John Reis (carnival barker for those righteous beacons of rock 'n' roll fury, Rocket From The Crypt), I think this album stands as their masterpiece, both in terms of songwriting and capturing Superchunk's command of stage dynamics. The band on this record and the band you saw live (that you couldn't help but pogo to), were just about the same. You can hear it all through "Precision," which sounds like it could be the aural interpretation of a car crash, what with sounds of skidding, sirens, and the thud of crashing. A masterpiece of a song and I never realized they made a video of it. Total early-'90s time capsule. I think 78% of all "college rock" videos made between 1988-94 looked like this ... not that it's a bad thing.

The final piece of evidence in defense of Superchunk's greatness is Laura Ballance (pictured on bass above). She rocks, she's hot, and she was one of the founders of über-indie empire, Merge Records. Word daddy-o.

Cars: Jim Croce Edition

Jim Croce: Speedball Tucker


Jim Croce: Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy)


Jim Croce: Workin' at the Car Wash Blues


You can have your James Taylors and your Jackson Brownes and your Dan Fogelbergs and your Cat Stevens. Just give me some Jim Croce and I'm a happy man.

Croce is one of the tragic stories in music history. He appealed to fans by writing songs about the common man and some of the characters that populate their worlds. Whether he's singing about Leroy Brown, Jim (who no one should mess around with), The Roller Derby Queen, Speedball Tucker, Rapid Roy, or just some schlub working at the car wash with aspirations of greater things ahead... Jim Croce's music strikes a chord. By the end of his songs, you feel as though you know character described within and are pulling for them to win.

Awful man that he is, you feel for Leroy Brown when cut down in a bar fight. You want Speedball Tucker, the trucker who is hopped up on any number of pills, to escape the law and keep speeding down the freeway. You cheer when Rapid Roy takes the checkered flag, and you root for the car wash employee to escape his "steadily depressin', low down, mind messin'" blues.

Jim Croce died in a plane crash in Natchitoches, LA in 1973. His music lives on.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Cars: Limo Edition

Things happen in limos. You sit in there, cut off from the world. This can produce a mood of delicious self-indulgence. But sometimes, the effect is more like sensory deprivation.

Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem: Limo To Memphis


First, let me thank Boyhowdy once again, this time for introducing me to the music of Rani Arbo. Truthfully, I should have found her myself. That's because she records for Signature Sounds, possibly my favorite record label. I have yet to find any Signature Sounds artist I don't like.

This song is about cooool. The spelling is intentional. This girl can afford it, and she is pampering herself.

Peter Mulvey: Stranded In A Limousine


Peter Mulvey also records for Signature Sounds. A few years back, he got together with label mates Kris Delmhorst and Jeffery Foucalt to form Redbird. On his own, Mulvey is a fine songwriter and performer. Unfortunately, keeping to this week's theme meant I couldn't highlight his songwriting; this song is a Paul Simon cover.

This where the sensory deprivation might come in. But this song is enigmatic; I'd love to hear other people's thoughts about what happens here in the comments.

Grace Jones: Pull Up To The Bumper


Grace Jones does not and never did record for Signature Sounds. But I had to include this. When your kids are in the room, you can say that this is the only song about parking a car that was posted this week; of course, in adult company, you're sure notice that this song isn't about parking at all. At least, not as the term is normally used.

Submitted by Darius

Cars: Drive-By Truckers

It can (and has been) argued that the Drive-By Truckers are the best american rock band on the highway these days. Whether you agree with that statement or not really boils down to a matter of taste but anyone who has any (taste that is) will have the Truckers in their top 5.

Well, as has become habit for me, I stopped by Star Maker Machine on Monday to see what this weeks theme was and as soon as I saw that it was cars "Daddy's Cup" jumped right to my mind and as I thought about it I remembered that "Carl Perkin's Cadillac" was on the exact same album. Seem's DBT's 2004 effort, The Dirty South, was made for this theme.

From the Drive-By Truckers' web site:

Drive-By Truckers: Daddy's Cup


"You just wait till them little legs get long enough to reach the gas
Once you put her on the floor one time there ain't no turning back" *

Drive-By Truckers: Carl Perkins' Cadillac


Cooley's song about the legendary SUN Records folks and the music industry in general. It took on an extra poignancy with the back to back passing of Sam Phillips and Johnny Cash.

Submitted by Autopsy IV

Cars: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road

Lucinda Williams: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road


This is the title track from Lucinda Williams’ absolutely essential album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. It’s a mostly autobiographical song that deals with Lucinda’s youth and tells the tale of a childhood largely spent moving from town to town as her parents moved from job to job. It is a not so fond remembrance of a childhood spent staring out the window of a moving car while heading toward the next unfamiliar destination. When Lucinda played this song for her father for the first time, he apologized to her for the strains her family placed on her as a child.

Submitted by Nelson

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cars: Jerry Was A Racecar Driver

Primus: Jerry Was A Racecar Driver


Somewhere between my father's folk music collection and my ongoing tenure as a folkfan and blogger, I went through a phase where all I really wanted to listen to was chunky punky funkbeats, sawing alt-countryrock jamband cred, weirdly bass-led experimental arrangements, and oddball lyrics. Happily, there was Les Claypool and his band Primus to fill the void. I spent many a psychadelic moment post-high school holed up in dark dorm rooms, listening to their 1991 masterpiece Sailing The Seas of Cheese, back when it was new and cutting edge. And if you haven't heard them, just press play -- I promise, it's distinctive enough to be like nothing you've ever heard before.

Wikipedia calls Sailing the Seas Primus' "breakthrough album", and lists this track as the first "single" from that album, which kind of challenges my whole notion of what "breakthrough" and "single" mean -- I mean, I suppose the album got some college play back then, but it's hard to believe there was ever a place in mainstream radio for this sort of music. But c'est la popular, I guess. These days, Claypool thrills audiences on the Bonarooapolooza circuit, giving me a warm fuzzy feeling of hope for the rising generation.

(PS: I also posted a Primus cover of classic country tune The Devil Went Down to Georgia way back in Hell Week -- it's still up if you missed it, and want to hear more!)

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

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cars: Big Star Edition

Big Star: Back Of A Car


Big Star: Big Black Car


I love Big Star. Luckily they have two great songs about cars.

Cars: Standing By The Rambler

I'm not gonna lie and say i knew what a Rambler was, or had ever seen one before this post, but i like to learn a little something everyday from ol' Wikipedia.

Rambler was the idea of auto maker Thomas B. Jeffery. The car was one of the first to try out using a steering wheel and the first ever vehicle to feature a road-ready spare tire. Charles W. Nash bought the company in 1916 and the Nash Rambler was born. Beginning as a sporty 2-door, the Rambler morphed into a 4-door sedan as well as a model that resembled a station wagon.
In the 60's, Rambler became an actual brand name, featuring many different models. The car saw its hey-day in this decade, but was not able to compete with the big American Auto companies. Like an aged athlete, the Rambler took it's game to Europe before finnally fizzling out in the early 80's.

As for the music - Walt gives us a jaunty little number centered around an old picture of his parents..... standin by their rambler. If you don't know Walt, you should. Known primarily for his songwriting, he's just another hidden treasure we have down here in Texas. Pat Green has given some of Walt's best tunes extra exposure throughout his career. This isn't Walt at his best, but it is a fun, lively tune - which is what car songs are all about.

Cars: The Bruce Springsteen Songbook

Patty Griffin: Stolen Car [purchase]

Townes Van Zandt: Racing in the Streets [out-of-print; purchase]

Ani DiFranco: Used Cars [purchase]

Bruce Springsteen: Pink Cadillac [purchase]

Those who listened to the Woody Guthrie original-and-cover set I posted yesterday may have noted the spoken preamble to Bruce Springsteen's version of Riding In My Car, in which he makes a brash, universal claim of primacy to the automobile as a topic for song. Though the challenge to Guthrie which Springsteen brings borders on the overly smug and self-inflated, it is not wrong to note that automobiles are a central image in the urban poetry of Bruce Springsteen.

For Springsteen, the car is a perfect metaphor, encapsulating the dual motifs of escape and commitment to family obligations which pepper his own songbook. And for a guy who has always come across in persona as a shy mechanic who is embarrassed to have accidentally found himself a spokesperson for American culture's blue collar underbelly, the idea of the car, and all it represents, is an especially apt vehicle for greatness.

Cataloguing the entire set of Springsteen's carsongs would be not so much an exercise in futility as a swamp of songs far too broad and long to legitimately fit within the boundaries of ethical blogging. But since I'm a cover blogger at heart, here's a representative sample of some favorite Springsteen covers, from Patty Griffin's slow, sparse take on the spinning wheels and tiger-cage pacing of Stolen Car to Townes Van Zandt's stellar live take on the young man's freedom of Racing in the Street to urban alt-folkie Ani DiFranco's fluid interpretation of the struggling middle-class arrival dreams of Used Car. Plus a single undersung original, just because the brash hillbilly rock of Bruce B-side Pink Cadillac, an Elvis tribute which was performed plenty in his Born in the USA tour in the mid eighties but has since been dropped from the general performance repertoire, is, under all it's top forty sound, a thoughtful narrative of what Bruce himself has called "the conflict between worldly things and spiritual health", especially apt in today's world of shrinking gas reserves and soaring prices.

Any of these, or a dozen more, would make a fitting spokes-song for our aging American troubador, and his ongoing exploration of our cultural fascination with all things vehicular. Feel free to add your favorite Springsteen carsong, cover or original, in the comments.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Cars: Car

Geoff Farina: Car


The acoustic folk sound of the Usonion Dream Sequence album is a far cry from the electric and jazzy sounds of Farina's former band, Karate.  But, this sound and approach to music works equally well for him.  Farina is a trained jazz guitarist, but on this album he throws out the flash and plays a relatively simple set, usually with simple chords, and standard progressions. The result is a quiet, personal, and warm album that has stood the test of time in my own music library.

There are so few lyrics to this song that they are worth including here:

Bare feet fall on dirty floors.
Voices press against strange doors.
The phone rings for the seventh time-
Another call that isn't mine.
I see him every where I go.
He's in his room. He's at the show.
He drives me home from every bar.
I forget his face but I remember that car.

Cars: Mercury Blues

K.C. Douglas: Mercury Blues


Are you crazy about a Mercury? I know I was, at one time my family owned a model similar to the one pictured above, complete with a Wooga-Wooga horn guaranteed to cause anyone within range to jump through their skin.

K.C. Douglas's understated Country Blues shows how deeply he'd been influenced by Delta Bluesman Tommy Johnson. They performed together until 1945, when Douglas relocated to Vallejo, California, where he worked at the naval shipyards before entering the San Francisco/Oakland Blues scene. After a few recordings for the Arhoolie label, he died of a heart attack in 1975.

David Lindley: Mercury Blues


David Lindley, an insanely talented multi-instrumentalist, has played with Jackson Browne (that's his lapsteel driving Running On Empty), among others. Here, he turns KC's tune inside out, it chugs away like a pile driver on a mission. Lindley proves that old Blues tunes never die, as long as there's someone breathing new life into them, they're as vibrant as the day they were written.

Cars: Maybellene

Chuck Berry: Maybellene


Is there a better car song than Maybellene? Chuck's crunchy chords keep cadence as he sings about his V8 Ford motivatin' over the hill towards Maybellene's Coup de Ville. No matter how many times I listen, I find myself rooting for the V8, as if I'm not quite sure of the ending - Berry sucks me in every time.

Alan Freed used to regularly stage shows at the Brooklyn Paramount, almost all of Rock's early pioneers played there. This was recorded for Alan Freed's Rock And Roll Dance Party Vol. 1 and my mom was part the audience when this song was recorded, I'd like to think somehow the notes reverberate through my DNA.

Maybellene is a permeation from another song, a traditional American fiddle tune called Ida Red that dates back to the 19th century. In 1938, Bob Wills recorded a modernized version.

Berry's piano player, Johnnie Johnson, claims that the both of them rewrote it on the order of Leonard Chess, the head of their label:

"It was an old fiddle tune called 'Ida Red.' I changed the music and re-arranged it, Chuck re-wrote the words, and the rest, as they say, was history. Leonard Chess asked me to come up to record it live. At that time, someone else already had a song out by the same name, so we had to change our version. We noticed a mascara box in the corner, so we changed the name to 'Maybellene.'"

Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys: Ida Red


Cars: Hot Rod Lincoln

For me, one of the best parts of music blogging is having a chance to present the history and evolution of songs that have become a part of the mythology of modern day Pop Culture. Hot Rod Race/Hot Rod Lincoln was the first of the car race songs, it opened the door for tunes like Gene Vincent's Race With The Devil and Jan & Dean Dead Man's Curve. While researching Hot Rod Lincoln, I was amazed on the amount of documentation that can be found about it on the Internet, so detailed that my own words couldn't do it the same justice. Below you'll find text I took from some fantastic sites I came across: BlackCat Rockabilly Europe & The Rockabilly Hall Of Fame's A Short History & Evolution of "Hot Rod Lincoln". Enjoy!

Arkie Shibley & His Mountain Dew Boys: Hot Rod Race

Arkie Shibley was a hillbilly singer who recorded the original "Hot Rod Race" in 1950, in Los Angeles. ("Arkie" was a common nickname for Arkansas immigrants to California.) The importance of this song, according to Jim Dawson and Steve Propes (in "What Was the First Rock 'n' Roll Record?"), lies in the fact that "it introduced automobile racing into popular music and underscored the car's relevance to American culture, particularly youth culture."

The writing credit for "Hot Rod Race" goes to George Wilson, which is probably Arkie Shibley's pseudonym. He offered the song to Bill McCall at 4 Star Records, but he turned it down, much to Arkie's frustration. The experience was incorporated into the lyrics of "Archie's Talking Blues":

"So I went to 4 Star with a smile on my face, I had a little tune called-a "Hot Rod Race". Bill McCall, he said it was no good, I'd be better off a-cuttin' hard wood. It hurt my feelings, he slammed the door, I went up the street talkin' to myself, But we recorded it though."

Ramblin' Jimmie Dolan: Hot Rod Race

Four versions hit the charts between 1950-1951: Arkie Shibley's, Ramblin' Jimmy Dolan, Red Foley and Tiny Hill. There were uncharted versions by Bob Williams and Arthur Smith, and possibly another by Rex Turner, so it can be ascertained that perhaps seven recordings of this song were released and/or made the charts during the very early fifties.

Ramblin' Jimmie Dolan's version climbed to #7 on the Country charts. After he covered "Hot Rod Race," Arkie returned the favor with a cover of Dolan's "Playing Dominoes And Shooting Dice."

Red Foley: Hot Rod Race

Red Foley was apparently the fourth to cover this song, and he changed a few lines, possibly to attract a larger crowd.

Charlie Ryan: Hot Rod Lincoln

The most enduring of the answer records was "Hot Rod Lincoln" by Charlie Ryan & The Timberline Riders, which first saw open road in 1955, attributed to Charlie Ryan & The Livingston Brothers on Ryan's own Souviner Records. It was customary for artists to sell their records at shows, and the Souvenir label suggests that this is just what it implied, a souvenir of the show. Ryan later told Pat Ganahl, editor of Rod and Custom magazine, that he and Shibley wrote their respective songs at about the same time in 1950, when they were both touring in the same area. Ryan, who owned a real hot rod Lincoln with twelve cylinders, begins his road race in Lewiston, Idaho, going through to the top of the hill (where Chuck Berry would later catch Maybellene in her Coupe de Ville). Nick Toshes, in his book Country, wrote that "steel-guitarist Neal Livingston wrought sounds of speed, sirens, and whiplash behind Ryan's tough boogie beat and amphetamine vocal."

Johnny Bond: Hot Rod Lincoln

Although Jim Dawson & Steve Propes wrote in 1992 that Johnny Bond had recorded "Hot Rod Lincoln" prior to Charlie Ryan's version, the Ryan recording was reviewed on 26-Oct-59, while Bond's wasn't reviewed until 20-Jun-60, a full eight months later. Ryan's version debuted on the charts on 09-May-60, while Bond didn't hit until 08-Aug-60, so it is apparent that Ryan started the revival.

Johnny Bond recorded a new version - with eight cylinders instead of twelve - for Gene Autry's Republic label. With West Coast airplay, it charted as both a country and pop hit. 4 Star Records got Ryan and his band back in the studio to re-record "Hot Rod Lincoln" and released it to compete with Bond. The two Lincolns raced each other up Billboard's Hot 100.

Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen: Hot Rod Lincoln

Commander Cody & The Lost Planet Airmen were one of the first bands to combine elements of Western Swing, Rockabilly and truck-drivin' Country and get results over to a mass audience. Their 1972 version of "Hot Rod Lincoln" proved that they were no staid purists when it came to putting a little drive in their brand of Country. With the advent of MTV, "Hot Rod Lincoln" was put to video. Their version begins with a re-write of the Charlie Ryan/Johnny Bond final line: "My pappy said, 'son, you're gonna drive me to drinkin, if you don't stop drivin' that hot rod Lincoln'"

For the most part, the lyrics stayed pretty close to Ryan's, with a minor alteration here and there. This song may never die, perhaps reincarnated once again unto a new generation of Rockers as yet undefined - perhaps a Rap version? It is documented here in hopes that it will be remembered by those who have enjoyed it through the near sixty years it has so far survived.

Cars: Riding In My Car

Woody Guthrie: Riding in My Car [purchase]

Bruce Springsteen: Riding in My Car [purchase]

Elizabeth Mitchell: Car Car [purchase]

Woody and Arlo Guthrie: Riding In My Car [purchase]

Every time someone tries to deify the great troubadors of early folk in my presence, I remember that I grew up listening to this silly yet classic Woody Guthrie song, thinking this was folk music, and wondering what all the fuss was about. Apparently, I'm not the only one, either. Bruce Springsteen's tribute-album cover is hilariously earnest; Elizabeth Mitchell's duet with her own kid is surprisingly tender. Woody's cross-generational recut, a jouncy hillybilly romp with jaw harp, banjo, harmonica, and son Arlo, is a bit too long for its own good, but a decent novelty all the same.

Cars: Mustang Sally

Wilson Pickett: Mustang Sally [purchase]

Buddy Guy: Mustang Sally [purchase]

And the version I sing on karaoke (it's my speciality!) ;o)

The Commitments: Mustang Sally [purchase]

When I saw that this week's theme was to be 'cars', this was the very first song that came to mind...a corker and, pleasingly, one that would not come up in any iTunes search of 'car'. Subsequently, I have had all sorts of dreadful car songs running through my head, but I'm fairly sure that they will be avoided in favour of the goodies here this week. And I reckon that this is a great tune to kick things off!