Five Great Driving Songs

The Steering Column

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In The Air Tonight, Miami Vice
In The Air Tonight, Miami Vice, artwork courtesy of Strait Jack, Inc.

UNITED STATES—What is with these people who wear ear buds while driving? If I’m not mistaken, most cars have built in speakers. In fact, today’s sophisticated automobiles are fitted with very high quality sound systems capable of syncing with your portable music player or smart phone in a myriad of ways. We’re talking about everything from an “old school” headphone jack to Bluetooth streaming. Why, then, do many drivers insist on pulling up next to me at a stoplight all tangled up in their white iPod ear buds. I doubt they make checking blind spots less of a chore. But even aside from being potentially dangerous distractions to the driver, they are an exaggerated reminder of just how dependent most people are to their portable entertainment devices. It’s as if they were portable life support devices.

What are these drivers listening to anyway? Are they engrossed in a self-help “tape” or something else that could be potentially unflattering? Are these drivers actually spies listening to secret wiretaps? Whatever they are listening to, it isn’t a classic driving song, one of those songs that immediately conjures up the joys of driving. No, the last thing on these ear bud-wearing drivers’ minds is driving. But, these misguided motorists aren’t completely worthless. Actually, they have inspired me to compile a list of five great driving or car-related songs. This could be a song from an iconic scene in a movie or prime time show involving a great driving scene. It could simply be a song about a car. Here it is:

Phil Collins, “In the Air Tonight”

While remembered more as a symbol of 80s pop culture than a critically acclaimed television Drama, Miami Vice certainly appealed to exotic car aficionados. Those whose heroic fantasies involve racing to the rescue of a damsel in distress through the glamorous streets of Miami in an even more fashionable Ferrari will not likely forget one particular scene in Miami Vice: Crocket and Tubbs racing to a climatic confrontation in a 1974 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 “Daytona” Spider. Michael Mann chose the theme music wisely. Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” has since become a regular DJ favorite on classic rock stations across the country.

Robert Tepper, “No Easy Way Out”

The Rocky franchise featured quite a few memorable songs and soundtracks. The fourth film in the franchise showcased one rather obscure 80s track that may have amounted to nothing more than a bottom-of-the-chart dweller had it not been for one exotic Lamborghini Jalpa. While most patriotic action movie junkies will tell you the film’s climatic fight scene is the reason to see this movie, many car addicts will beg to differ. They would argue that Rocky’s “inner-conflict” montage, during which he races his black Lamborghini Jalpa through a tunnel, set to Robert Tepper’s “No Easy Way Out” is the highlight of the flick.

Billy Ocean, “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car”

Inspired by the Ringo Starr song, “Your Sixteen”, “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” not only reached #1 on U.S. Billboard’s Hot 100, it has since been covered numerous times, used as NASCAR’s 2003 soundtrack, featured in various commercials, and even a little-known 80s teen movie as well. The music video was cutting-edge for its time, featuring live-action sequences mixed with animated cartoon characters.

The Cars, “Drive”

It would likely be a crime if this song were not included on this list simply for what it looks like on paper. Ironically, this song is not one of The Cars’ most energizing songs. In other words, it wouldn’t make a driving enthusiast want to get behind the wheel of a fancy sports car and take it to the limit. “Drive”, being more of a love Ballad, is more memorable for its music video, which featured super model Paulina Porizkova, who was currently married to Cars front man Ric Ocasek.

The Ides of March, “Vehicle”

https://youtu.be/ZV1WDBeEGn4

Not only did the Ides of March’s single inspire fast driving, it also became Warner’s fastest selling single of all-time when it debuted. With its catchy jazz rock riff, “Vehicle” is a well-recognized part of 20th century pop culture that has been used as a car commercial jingle on multiple occasions and has been featured in countless other Hollywood productions.

Please chime in. Let us know if we’ve missed a song that should have never been left off this list in a million years. If you have a completely different list, let us know in the comments section below.