I have an idea of my car
When Queen sang “I’m in Love with My Car” on their sublime 1975 album, A night at the opera, the line “got a feel for my automobile” worked because it rhymed, not because Freddie Mercury, Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor (who sang that song) were gearheads. But history is full of rock stars who really loved cars, sang about them, collected them, and even died driving them. Popular music, especially after World War II, has been fatally linked to cars.
For the average teenager, the car stereo has become as important as the car itself. I had suitcases of mixtapes and dubbed cassettes, then dated CD books and buddies flipping through them as I roamed the back roads of southern Maine. I knew which station was emitting the Led at any hour. But my undying love for Pink Floyd and Bruce Springsteen had to take a back seat for this very first Road & Track Musical number, where we come back to the inseparable stories of two very American phenomena.
To avoid old car clichés, we’ve put together a list of banned bands to keep us from heading down an editorial highway jammed with broken heroes on a last-ditch engine. Go ahead and make your own list. Here’s mine:
Eric Clapton. Say what you will about Clapton’s music; he had a Ferrari that bore his name.
Nick Mason. Again, I love Pink Floyd, and like most gentleman guitarists, I love David Gilmour’s playing. Floyd’s drummer Mason wasn’t John Bonham, but he has a fantastic collection of cars. So good, in fact, that car magazines have been talking about it forever. You’re a nice guy, Nick, but you’re overexposed.
James Hetfield. Yeah, I don’t care about his cars.
Springsteen. What is a Last Chance Power Reader?
ZZ High. While they were once heroic mumblers with nasty guitar work, the cheese of Eliminator almost led to a cars/music divorce.
The list is much longer than we have space. There are at least 70 years of automotive clichés in pop. Instead, read on and discover what’s new we’ve been researching: the soundscapes Elliot Scheiner created for Acura, the little-known road trip that led to the sergeant. peppers album, Killer Mike’s car collection, and Hunter S. Thompson’s death-defying quest to hang out with Cream drummer Ginger Baker. Then there’s our profile of Miles Davis, who was very easily the car guy Clapton only wishes he could be.
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