Power shift, here we go

Car songs had one Golden Age (think “Shut Down” or “Dead Man’s Curve”) and one Silver Age (think “Born to Run”). Today we’re hard-pressed to come up with so much as zinc.

Ezra Dyer corroborates in Automobile (8/08):

Since the rock world decided, post-Beach Boys, that it was no longer cool to sing about cars, these days the car-as-muse belongs mostly to the rap and country genres. And country is sort of limited, since country singers are prohibited by law from mentioning any vehicle that’s not four-wheel drive, American, and a pickup.

So the bulk of the automotive name-dropping occurs in rap, because many rap songs hew to a basic thematic structure that hinges on the dichotomy of two main ideas: One, that I have lots of things; moreover, you do not.

What’s more, my things are better, or at least more expensive, than yours:

I’m sick of hearing about Bentleys and Phantoms, Range Rovers and Navigators, Bimmers and Benzes. Do you know how many times “Lexus” has been rhymed with “Texas”?

Then again, blingophiles hungering for street cred aren’t about to let you know about the Corolla they borrowed to get around town after they couldn’t afford to fill up the Slade’s tank anymore.

Back in ’02, Chevrolet ran an ad campaign featuring Chevy-related song lyrics, and some genius came up with this tagline: “They don’t write songs about Volvos.” To this day I still get searches for variations on that string. I think I’ll just start referring them to Everclear.

1 comment

  1. Flack »

    3 July 2008 · 1:15 pm

    Coming from a relatively youngin’, I suspect there were more songs about cars “back in the day” because cars “back in the day” were more inspiring. Even plain-ol’ sedans from the classic era of cars are being fixed up and displayed at car shows. Maybe it’s me, but it’s hard to feel inspired by a Honda Civic.

    Ooooh, ooooh, oooooh,
    She gets more mileage than youuu, youuu, youuu,
    no need for a passing lane,
    but she runs off of 87 octane …

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