I love to drive. A sunny day, the purr of a finely-tuned engine, a full tank of gas, clear road in front of me, maybe a coffee or soda in my cupholder, and I can drive for hours on end.
Unfortunately, I’ve faced more than a few congested roads and a seemingly endless list of crazy drivers this summer including two significant road trips in a matter of days to Charleston, South Carolina and Stowe, Vermont. As I sat stalled in traffic on one particular trip, I couldn’t help but laugh at the explosion of Sammy Hagar’s “I can’t drive 55” blaring over the radio.
Sammy and his Pre-Van Halen hit got me thinking about how drivers and musical performers have a lot in common.
Bear with me for a moment.
Let’s start with the “road-ragers.” You know the kind. It’s bumper-to-bumper in both lanes. And then out of nowhere, some little sports car flies up on your rear, full of aggression and anger. The driver pulls in inches from your rear-end, waving his arms, gesturing this way and that. You shake your head in wonder and ask: “Where exactly am I supposed to go?”
You know the drivers. They’re the Brittany Spears, Ariana Grande, a Jonas Brother or two, the Kanye Wests of the world. They fly onto the scene, they’re here one day, gone the next, known more for their outside activities than the quality of their music.
Live in concert
Few can beat the road-ragers for causing angst and anger, except for maybe the guy who pulls out into the left lane and clogs up traffic for mile after mile. Justin Bieber anyone? Miley Cyrus, perhaps? Yes, annoying as hell. It’s got to be these two.
When you travel up and down the highway, you see all types on the road. You have your trucker drivers just trying to make it to the next stop (the Willie Nelsons and Dave Matthews of the highway), your tour bus drivers full of stories and constantly looking back in the mirror (Lionel Richie, perhaps), and even your RV drivers winding back and forth in their mini tents on wheels (the Bob Dylans; the Grateful Dead when Jerry Garcia was still alive; Tracy Chapmans, and Colbie Caillats of the world).
Pushing the Limit
There’s other drivers too, some good, some bad, all original. The drivers I absolutely love are the ones who are too cool for words. The ones that you can draft and who push the speed, but not too crazy. The ones who serve as trail blazers, slowing down when you need to slow down, speeding up when the coast is clear. Justin Timberlake, Adam Levine, Lady Gaga, and Beyoncé come to mind. They push, they pull you. They help you make up all the time that you lost stuck in traffic.
Oh, yes, I know driving can be a contact sport. You have your crazy New York and New Jersey drivers. Don’t get me wrong, I could spend days running round New York City, you’ve got the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Broadway and Manhattan. There’s so much to see and love. Sort of like Frank Sinatra and Barbara Streisand, or even John Mayer and Rihanna, but there comes a point, where I’ve heard enough. Give me something else.
The intersection of music and the road
When I get in the mood for an old favorite, I usually pull up some U2, my go to band, Eric Clapton, the Eagles or Green Day or even some Bon Jovi. Thanks to my rural roots, I’m still partial to the occasional country song.
Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, and every other country musician on the radio, who do they represent on the road? That one’s too easy, the good ole boy in his truck, window down, dog hanging out the window. Likewise, the endless array of rappers, who I’m just not cool enough of to follow or know by name, have to be the guys with their speakers blasting at ear punishing levels. They obviously need the heavy bass thum-thum-thump-thump booming from their car speaker to work on their on music.
The list of musicians and their driving counterparts is endless. Here’s a few more:
The Taylor Swifts: the millennials flying up the road, feet propped up on the dashboard, belting out “Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake it off, shake it off” like their life depended on it.
The Stevie Wonders: the wannabe players who can’t drive too straight, but are still trying to play the game. They got one arm around a significant other and cruising in the right lane, trying to look too cool for school.
The Adeles: The steady performers, one hit after another or in the world of traffic, the steady cruisers, five mph above the speed limit, but not a mile more.
A tough ticket to find
I could go on and on. I haven’t even touched on the drivers who fly in-and-out of the right and left lane like they’re trying out for the Indianapolis 500 or the ones more interested in their phone than the curve in the road. Some of my comparisons might be a little out there and certainly limited, considering my narrow musical tastes, but I’m appreciative for them nonetheless. I drove more than twelve hours south to Charleston and felt the whole time like I had the front row concert seat of the summer.
You can’t beat that.