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VH1's Top Ten Driving Songs: A Scathing Review
by Steve Wingate, TCGOB Publisher

Not too long ago, VH1 aired a program featuring Kevin Harvick (driver of the #29 Goodwrench NWC car) entitled the "The Top Ten Driving Songs of All Time."  The show depicted Kevin and somebody named Rachel Perry taking a trip in a Corvette convertible while they discussed the best driving songs.  I was looking forward to the show, but ended up missing it.  I knew that VH1 was a music channel of slightly better taste than MTV, so I was expecting something fresh and interesting in their list.  I was, however, woefully disappointed when I found the list on their website.  Let's review them now:

10. SHERYL CROW - "Every Day is a Winding Road"
Okay, not a bad song, but not a driving song in my opinion.  I think this song was chosen just because it had the keyword "road" in it.  We'll see VH1 repeat the "driving keywords" several times in this list.  VH1 is already turning this list into a cliché.

9. ZZ TOP - "Legs"
Okay, I can live with this one, although I would have chosen "Tube Steak Boogie".  Actually, I don't think I've heard many ZZ Top songs that don't inspire you to mash that pedal a little harder.  I think that VH1 chose this song because the video, like the video to "Gimmie All Your Lovin'", features a hot custom car.  ZZ Top is about as readily identified with cars as the Beach Boys.  Another cliché.

8. LENNY KRAVITZ - "Are You Gonna Go My Way"
I definitely agree.  Lenny penned the ultimate driving song here.  The entire song is electrifying and spine tingling, a driving song classic.  However, the song has the word "go" in the title… another driving buzzword.

7. PRINCE - "Little Red Corvette"
Great song, but not a driving song… it's actually more of a "parking" song.  VH1 obviously chose this song because it had a car name in the title.

6. VAN HALEN - "Panama"
Yes, this is a great song and a good driving song.  However, the lyrics talk about driving.  Too easy-- VH1 registers another blip on the cliché radar.

Okay… what makes a driving song is largely a matter of opinion.  This song doesn't do much for me, but they seem to like it, and it's the first song on their list without a "driving buzzword".

4. SAMMY HAGAR - "I Can't Drive 55"
Too obvious of a choice.  This song is just chock full of driving buzzwords.  Tres cliché.

3. AC/DC - "Highway To Hell"
Another painfully obvious choice.  It's got the word "highway" in it.  While this is a great song, there are other AC/DC songs that would have made better choices such as "Rocker" or "TNT".

2. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - "Born to Run"
Once again, a driving song is a matter of opinion, but this one has another buzzword: "run".  Plus, I don't care for Springsteen, but that too, is a matter of opinion.

1. STEPPENWOLF - "Born To Be Wild"
Gag.  Don't even get me started on "Born To Be Wild".  While it is a great song, it has been ruined for me by the countless times Hollywood has rammed it in my face.  It seems every time somebody goes driving in a movie, "Born" is the soundtrack that accompanies it.  "Born to be Wild" is the single biggest driving song cliché in existence, and I surely would have thought that VH1 would have shown more imagination.  It contains all the buzz words and then some:  motor,running,highway,explode,fire and very probably a few I'm overlooking.  "Magic Carpet Ride" is a far better Steppenwolf driving song in my opinion.

As I've pointed out, the problem with VH1's list is that all the choices are obvious ones.  They contain all the essential buzzwords such as "run, highway, road, Corvette (or any other car name), go, etc."  VH1's list read like a round of Family Feud, containing only the most common answers.  My guess is that VH1 took a survey and presented us with the most popular answers.  More than likely, many of the people polled were probably just your average buffoons who don't let music and driving move them in the way that it does people like us.

A driving song is not defined by the lyrics or title, but by the groove, spirit and feel of the song.  Granted, there are some driving songs out there that do talk about driving or cars that do belong on a driving song list, such as "Trampled Under Foot" by Led Zeppelin, but these are the exception rather than the rule.

A true driving song is definable only by you.  Don't let me or VH1 or anybody dictate what you're supposed to feel when listening to music.  It's all a matter of opinion.

Some opinions, however, are just more accurate than others.

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2003 Car Guy of Benchfield
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