Driving music

Posted by – March 21, 2008

I don’t have a driving license and I don’t really like cars, but I like listening to music in moving cars. Especially at night. As a kid I used to think it would be great to have a car and listen to music really loud with the windows down but my dad told me that only insecure stupid people do that, so I thought maybe I’d keep the windows up. Alas, even that remains a dream since I don’t like the expenses or the various practicalities involved in operating a car. But sometimes I get an opportunity to indulge in loud night-time motorway music-listening in other people’s cars and at times like that it’s good to have opinions about everything at the ready. So I’m going to give you a list of appropriate music so you can copy my opinions and become a better person. The music falls into two distinct drivin’ moods: one is when you’re feeling a bit dangerous, going a bit fast and generally rocking out. The other is exclusively at night, when you’re going slow enough (or your car’s fancy enough) for there not to be much road-noise, it’s maybe raining and the world seems cool and beautiful. I won’t say which records are in which category because it’ll be pretty easy to figure out anyway.

1) Stop Making Sense by The Talking Heads
The original cd, not the movie soundtrack (as it were) which has more tracks and a different order. Very tight and neurotic, never drifts off for a moment. Relentless. Very clean sound.

2) A Night At The Opera by Queen
Admittedly, some tracks are far from optimal – I even considered one of the Greatest Hits albums here but didn’t want the scorn I’d get from some Queen fans reading this. But with probably the best opener of the lot, the thematic I’m In Love With My Car, the confusing The Prophet’s Song and the iconic Bohemian Rhapsody it would be impossible not to pick this. If it had Innuendo on it it could have had first place.

3) Kind of Blue by Miles Davis
Huh? What kind of philistine wants to listen to one of the greatest jazz albums ever in a car? Well, I obviously don’t need to answer that question, but hear me out. The album is actually a lot less “complicated” to listen to than most famous jazz: the pieces have an intro with a theme, then each soloist plays around for some set number of bars with a determined set of scales, and that’s it. Each bit sounds like it has oceans of time to move around in and they never run out of ideas – and still they keep it simple, elegant and beautiful. Granted, you need a pretty quiet driving environment for this to work.

4) England Made Me by Black Box Recorder
Again, a record with an unconfusing sound that’s beautiful to listen to throughout. Rain is a definite plus here.

5) Some Led Zeppelin album – possibly III, but I’m witholding judgement until I’ve had a chance to listen to more of them. III suffers a bit from things like That’s The Way and Bron-Y-Aur Stomp. Some sort of compilation album without Stairway on it would probably be perfect. No explanation necessary, quite frankly.

Not on the list: Autobahn by Kraftwerk. I considered it, but – just no. Better listened to when stationary.

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