Eclectic Songwriter Field Trip: Big Bear Fun Run / Top 10 Songs Written About a Car (Part 1)

The Big Bear Fun Run is a major fund raising effort in the form of a car show held every year on the second weekend in August in the village of Big Bear Lake.  On average, you can see about 400 classic vehicles at this exhibition.  In 1982, a group of people who shared a common interest in “vintage automobiles” started the Big Bear Lake Antique Car Club.  This annual event raises on average 15 to 20,000 dollars given to local groups to provide various services in this community.  Live music, food, and cars on display!  Nothing better!  While I was enjoying the day with my family, I took some time compile a top ten list based on the answers to my question of the day…

“What was your favorite song written about a car?”

Pretty simple, right?  That’s what I thought, anyway…
Although these car enthusiasts were very friendly and had no problems with their sweet rides being photographed, almost none wanted to be on camera themselves.  They did indulge me and my survey, though.  Maybe my people skills are rusty.  I’ll have to work on that.  But I did get enough responses to make a list, and a couple of the choices caught me off guard.  Nevertheless, here it is!

But before I get to the actual top ten, here are some honorable mentions that didn’t make this list.

Barracuda (Heart – 1977)

Which isn’t even about a car, it was about Ann Wilson’s aggravation with the behavior of Heart’s record label.

It remains one of their most famous songs.

El Camino (Ween – 1990)

Little known song predominantly played on college radio.  Dean and Gene Ween (yeah, those are their stage names) started this experimental rock band in the mid 1980’s based out of Pennsylvania.  The song is quirky, and the band is definitely eclectic!

Mustang Sally (Wilson Pickett – 1966)

About a girl who lives the wild life in her Mustang.  Wilson warns her that she needs to slow down.
Songwriter Sir Mack Rice points out that the original title was “Mustang Mama” but Aretha Franklin convinced him to change it.

Dead Man’s Curve (Jan and Dean – 1964)

About a fateful race between a Jaguar XKE and a Corvette Stingray.  The songwriters given credit for the tune are Jan Berry, Roger Christian, Brian Wilson and Artie Kornfeld.  When they spun this tale, they decided to set the scene on a sharp stretch of Sunset Blvd.  near the Bel Air Estates.  Click on this link to see where this mythical crash took place http://bit.ly/dndKZ6. Just as sure as life imitates art — or song — Jan had an almost fatal car crash in 1966, and it was in nearby Beverly Hills.  Glad he lived through it!  As someone once said, the best crashes are those you can walk away from!  But his life after the crash was a long and difficult recovery which ended with his final rest in 2004 at the age of 62.  I do remember Jan & Dean playing a last triumphant series of concerts about ten years before he left us.  At least the fans got that!

Drive My Car (Beatles – 1966)

I guess because the word “car” is in the title.  “Drive My Car” is an old euphemism for getting it on!  Wait, isn’t that a euphemism, too?  Okay…sex!  But a lot songs have a double meanings, especially in the sixties!

Pink Cadillac (Bruce Springsteen – 1984)

Well known B-side that has also been covered by Natalie Cole.  Another one of those double-meaning songs.  The track didn’t make onto his legendary “Born In the U.S.A.” album, but it is a beloved concert favorite.

Beep Beep (Playmates – 1958)

About a Cadillac’s misadventure with a little Nash Rambler.

409 (Beach Boys – 1962)

About the favorite hot rod Chevy with the powerful 409 cubic inch (6.7 L) W-series V8 engine.  In 1965, the engine was superseded by newer versions including a 396-cubic-inch 425 hp Mark IV big-block engine — but nobody wrote a song about that!

Get ready for PART TWO where I will countdown the TOP 10 SONGS WRITTEN ABOUT A CAR!

Until then, be good!

Dean