Friday, 8 January 2016

My Top Ten Songs About Bad Drivers

Four times a week, I have a 50 min - 1 hr 10 minute commute to work (depending on whether I'm taking Sam to nursery or not) and this is where I listen to most of my music these days. Most days enjoy the journey - it's country lanes most of the way - but every now and then, a bad driver comes along and spoils it all. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those people who thinks he's the best driver on the road. I just think everyone else is worse. ("L'enfer, c'est les autres." Or, "L'enfer, c'est les autos", if you prefer.)

I chose the image above not because Neko Case features in this list, but because you'd hate to meet her coming the other way on your way to work, if that's how she drives...

10. Ferlin Husky - The Drunken Driver

We start out in 1954 with this terrifying anti-drink drive death disc. I think it's fair to say, if you've never heard this before, you've never heard anything like it before. You probably won't ever want to hear it again, unless you have some kind of sick, macabre sense of humour. Or you like tragic 50s death discs. As I do.

9. Half Man Half Biscuit - Blue Badge Abuser

If you're reading this post from outside the UK (and, bizarrely, blogger tells me I have more readers from the rest of the world than I do from my home country), you might not know that a Blue Badge is the thing that allows you to park in a disabled parking space in the UK. And little gets us as hot under the collar as seeing some able-bodied type who's managed to con a Blue Badge out of the council, thereby allowing him to park wherever the chuff he choose. (Personally I get more mad at people who park in the Parent & Child bays but quite clearly have no children... but that's just where I am in my life anymore.)
I park up in the pouring rain
The space was empty, who's to complain?
And if they did, I'd say I'm due for the op
And sprint wilfully off to the shop
A typical Nigel Blackwell rant then, written from the perspective of this "ne'er-do-well of the highest accord".
Fetch my stick, Margaret!
8. Lambchop - I Will Drive Slowly

Presumably, Kurt Wagner is driving slowly to prolong the time he spends with his new love before dropping her off. Which is all very romantic... but a pain in the arse if you're stuck behind him.

Lambchop sound a bit like REM on this one - not something I've ever noticed before.

7. David Bowie - Always Crashing in the Same Car

I'll play this one for Dave on his 69th birthday. New album out today also: I'll get round to it soon as I can afford, Dave.

Released back in '77, this Low album track apparently describes coked up Dave taking revenge on a drug dealer who'd ripped him off, smashing into his car before going for a spin in his hotel's underground garage. They don't make rock stars like they used to.

6. Don Henley - Drivin' With Your Eyes Closed

I'm obviously on a bit of a Don Henley kick at the moment, following last year's comeback album. This is from the same album as his biggest hit, the astounding Boys of Summer, and while it's not in the same league as that, it is a very intriguing record, laced with the usual Henley cynicism and some bizarre references to French poets which I don't understand at all because I'm only an English teacher and the only French writer I can quote is Sartre.

5. Everclear - Volvo Driving Soccer Mom

This is what bad girls become when they grow up. Doesn't mean they become better drivers.

Classic Everclear single from 2003, although none of my muso pals will agree with me when I say this: I see it as kind of the American equivalent of...

4. Morrissey - The Boy Racer

Leave it to Moz to write an ode to that most loathed of bad drivers - he always has a knack for sympathising the underdogs.  Even when he wants to kill them.
He's got too many girlfriends
He thinks he owns this city
He overspeeds and he never gets pulled over
Have you seen him go, though, oh?
The second and final single from the album many consider to be Moz's nadir, Southpaw Grammar, on which he flirts with grunge and 10 minute drum solos. I think Boy Racer stands up well now - but then, when compared to the album's first single, the lamentable Dagenham Dave, this could be How Soon Is Now II.

Oh yeah, and if anyone ever tries to convince you of that old Moz=Miseryguts chestnut, can you kindly direct them here...
He thinks he got the whole world in his hands
Stood at the urinal
He thinks he got the whole world in his hands
And I'm gonna ... kill him!
3. Aimee Mann - Driving Sideways

Aimee at the height of her powers, from an album with a curious story behind it, Bachelor No. 2 or, the Last Remains of the Dodo. Back in 2000 when the album was finished, her record company refused to release it as they felt it wasn't commercial, despite a number of the songs - including this one - already having featured in the hit soundtrack for Paul Thomas Anderson's film Magnolia... you know, the one where Tom Cruise plays a sexist dick.

(Insert your own punchline here.)

Anyway, Aimee bought the music back off her record company (for a shitload, by all accounts) and released it independently via her own website where it became one of the internet's first big sales success stories (CD-wise).

Having said all that, Driving Sideways isn't on the UK edition of Bachelor (which I own) because it was swapped for Save Me (also from the Magnolia soundtrack, and arguably a much better song). Thus endeth today's lesson on semi-obscure Aimee Mann records.

2. Simon & Garfunkel - Baby Driver

Taken literally, this would be one very bad driver indeed. If their feet could reach the pedals, none of us would be safe. Of course, when you get to my age, the average 17 year old looks like a Baby Driver... and watching them scoot down the road always fills me with dread.

Baby Driver is from Bridge Over Troubled Water and was originally the b-side of The Boxer. Jack Kerouac's daughter Janet used the title for her first (semi-autobiographical) novel, released in the early 80s. 

1. Del Amitri - Driving With The Brakes On

I don't feature Del Amitri on this site half as much as I should, because I do consider Justin Currie one of the greatest songwriters of his generation. Gloriously grumpy too, which is why you'd be perfectly in your right to consider this just another one of his "moaning at the world" songs, written after being stuck behind one of those drivers who has to test those new brake lights he got for Christmas every three seconds.

Other interpretations are that the song's about an abortion the male partner was unable to prevent, and his attempts to come to terms with that and whether the relationship has any future. Certainly gives you an alternate reading for the lyrics...
Driving through the long night
Trying to figure who's right and who's wrong
Now the kid has gone. I sit belted up tight,
She sucks on a match light, glowing bronze, steering on.
And I might be more a man if I stopped this in its tracks
And said come on, let's go home. But she's got the wheel,
And I've got nothing except what I have on.
The song's from 1995, though it sounds as far away from Britpop as you could have got and still be a guitar band. At the time, that made Del Amitri unfashionable. 20 years later, it makes them timeless.

Which one drives you crazy?


  1. Nigel Blackwell - a national treasure

    1. I keep looking for him in the Newv Year's Honours List.

  2. Tommy was a pretty rubbish driver (Tell Laura I love her)!

    1. True enough. But then...

  3. Funnily enough, I was singing Weird Al Yankovic's 'She Drives Like Crazy' in the car this morning, while Lesley was driving. A bit rich coming from me, as I seem to have forgotten how to drive recently and now drive like the old man I nearly am.

    I might have to dig out some of Lesley's old Del Amitri CDs, something I've not been tempted to do before now and I've been in the same house as them for nearly 22 years.

  4. Specially for Ferlin - Stevie Wonder 'Don't Drive Drunk'.

  5. The Stevie Wonder title reminded OH of 'arrested for driving while blind' ZZ top which actually doesn't sound too bad - much better than Kiss Detriot Rock City he is subjecting me to which is also about bad driving. And apparently Ratcat - car crash is coming next .... Thanks for that! (And he tells me black sabbath trashed is worth a mention *sigh*)

    1. Tell him the ZZ track was in contention and would have made the Top 15.

  6. "L'enfer, c'est les autos" - very good.

    1. Thank you. I always like it when a pun comes together.

  7. I have to say that this one from 1953 "drives me crazy":

  8. Your list can't be complete without this one!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...