OA Rock Column Aug. 14, 2009

When the wheels go ’round and ’round, rock music is the sound

Most of us drive somewhere every day. That is a given. I want to know what you listen to when you drive. Are you a button-pusher who still listens to the radio or do you always have a compact disc in the car player? Maybe you are one from the high-tech generation who uses an iPod, mp3 or a computer to deliver your “driving music.” Maybe it’s all of the above.

Personally, I listen to the radio and some CDs when I am driving around town. For road trips, it is CDs and now our iPod. We recently found out that our iPod doesn’t hold enough music for a long road trip. So CDs are still a necessity in our lives!

According to many, the first rock ’n’ roll song was written about a car — Jackie Brenston’s “Rocket 88,” from 1951. What are your favorite driving songs? Your selections will most likely depend upon your age. Here are my current choices: “Come Go with Me,” from the Del Vikings, is a doo-wop classic. Chuck Berry’s “Maybelline” and “No Particular Place to Go,” Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” and Buddy Holly’s “Rave On” were just a few songs from the early days of rock ’n’ roll. That was a time when the mixture of blues, R&B and rockabilly helped create a climate for up-tempo music with a driving beat.

In fact, in 1999, Rhino Records released a boxed set titled “Loud Fast & Out of Control” that was a tribute to the roots of rock, about which rock critic Cub Koda had this to say:

“You could call this box the ultimate cruising set, except that you’ll be driving 20 miles per hour faster than you were planning on once this baby starts blaring.”

Artists such as Elvis Presley, Duane Eddy, Fats Domino, Carl Perkins, the Coasters, Big Joe Turner, Eddy Cochran, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly and many more present a total of 104 songs on four CDs. I used to own that incredible set, but sold it to a customer before I found out it was out of print.

Every generation, or even every decade from then on, could lay claim to its share of “driving songs.” There are the obvious songs from the 1960s from groups like the Beach Boys and Steppenwolf, and of course the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, to name just a few. “Take It Easy” by the Eagles and Jackson Browne,  and Browne’s “Running On Empty” and the “Road and the Sky” were from the 1970s, as was the Eagles’ cover of Tom Waits’ “Ol’ 55.”

There were many great driving songs from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen and the Cars. What about the Stray Cats and their brand of rockabilly? The Allman Brothers’ “Ramblin’ Man,” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s cover of JJ Cale’s “Call Me The Breeze,” the Outlaws’ “Breaker Breaker” and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils’ “Kansas You Fooler” are Southern rock classics. “Radar Love,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” “Space Truckin’,” “Going Up The Country,” “Truckin’,” “Six Days on the Road,” “Turn the Page,” “Traveling Band,” “Road to Hell” and “Telegraph Road” are some more of my favorites.

I know I left some out and there is not enough space with three columns to mention them all. If you feel inclined, send me your favorites. If you take just a little time to think about it, you will come up with a lot of them. I know I did.

Rock Cesario owns Triple Play Records, 530 Main St., and hosts “Acoustic Sunday” from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday on Drive 105.3 FM. E-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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