Sunday, August 5, 2012

Best of the Cars

"As I'm buying a car this week (!) you should each make me a playlist about cars," my sister texted her music nerd friends a few days ago. So much for all the other work I was supposed to do this week.

Best of the Cars
  1. AC/DC, "Highway to Hell"
  2. Public Enemy, "You're Gonna Get Yours"
  3. The Clash, "Brand New Cadillac"
  4. Gary Numan, "Cars"
  5. Arcade Fire, "Keep the Car Running"
  6. Guided By Voices, "Motor Away"
  7. Tom Waits, "Ol' 55"
  8. Robert Johnson, "Terraplane Blues"
  9. Tom Petty, "Runnin' Down a Dream"
  10. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, "Crosstown Traffic"
  11. Wilson Pickett, "Mustang Sally"
  12. T-Rex, "Jeepster"
  13. Van Halen, "Panama"
  14. The Dead Milkmen, "Bitchin' Camaro"
  15. Prince, "Little Red Corvette"
  16. The Who, "Going Mobile"
  17. War, "Low Rider"
  18. Howlin' Wolf, "Cadillac Daddy (Mr. Highway Man)"
  19. Alice Cooper, "Under My Wheels"
  20. The Beach Boys, "I Get Around"
  21. The Beatles, "Drive My Car"
  22. Chuck Berry, "No Particular Place to Go"
  23. Big Star, "Back of a Car"
  24. Janis Joplin, "Mercedes Benz"
  25. Neil Young, "Long May You Run"
Let the good times roll.

The car song is one of the most celebrated rock traditions, a move that made careers for Chuck Berry, the Beach Boys and Bruce Springsteen, among others.  To help cut this down to 80 minutes, I enforced the one-song-per artist rule. Thus we get "No Particular Place to Go" and "I Get Around," plus the Springsteen quota filled by singer-songwriters who wrote better car songs (Waits, Petty, Young.)

The first track that sprung to mind was "Cars," by honorable one hit wonder Gary Numan, and the obvious Prince, War and Wilson Pickett choices were also too awesome to resist. Of course I also had to include "Highway to Hell" and "Panama," both deservedly canonized yet unappreciated as car jams, as well as the amazing "Your Gonna Get Yours," Chuck D's uncharacteristically materialistic hymn to his 98 Oldsmobile. Maybe Flavor Flav got into his head.

At the risk of alienating both of my readers, I think that blues songs are best heard on mix CDs. Robert Johnson and Howlin' Wolf's talents stand out more next to Tom Petty and Alice Cooper than they do next to shoddily-recorded alternate version demos of the same song three times in a row. I also like the Arcade Fire and Dead Milkmen songs better out of their original context.

I still love the Who and Jimi Hendrix contributions, almost unreasonably, and "Back of a Car," like everything else from the original Big Star records, makes me swoon. #1 Record/Radio City is one of those things that probably gets an advantage if it finds you when you're still young enough to enjoy shaving.

Enjoy the tunes, Sis! Drive safe.


Yer sis said...

I'm obsessed with the mix, thank you so much. I listened to it all the way to Orange County today. (for like the 30th time). Glad you are sharing such an excellent mix with the world!

This is the bitchin camero parody/"cover" I mentioned:

Ben Apatoff said...

Thank you, I'm so glad you like it! Looking forward to checking out the Hodgman rendition.