Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"Driveway Songs"

I was in the house the other day, with all doors and windows closed, when I heard the unmistakable sound of a thumping bass coming from a car radio. One of those dang kids going by with some god-awful rap music turned up full blast? No, it was obviously not moving. The sound was constant, and it was coming from my own driveway. Suzanne had come home and was sitting in the van with the car radio volume set at a painful level. She was “groovin’” to a “Driveway Song!!!”

So what is a “Driveway Song,” you ask. Well, that’s the name I’ve given to those tunes that you like so much that you’ll sit in the driveway and listen until they’re over. There aren’t that many of them, but everyone has a few. Songs that you are so emotionally attached to that you can’t bear the idea of shutting it off in the middle.

My own list of Driveway Songs is probably longer than most just because I’ve spent nearly 46 years of my life playing songs on the radio. And, my list includes a variety of styles, too. I won’t attempt to rank them, because their position on the list may fluctuate, depending on my mood any given day. But they include:

Diana Ross, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” long version only! Just about the most exciting six minutes ever put on vinyl (back when records were still records.)

Bob Seger, “Against The Wind” and “Night Moves” (yes, I know the latter has been overplayed but it still gets me.)

Eddie Fisher, “Oh My Papa.” Okay, I know I know it doesn’t exactly fit with Diana Ross and Bob Seger, but we’re talking about emotional attachment to the tune. This is the first record I ever bought, on a 78, and I bought it three times. (I accidentally broke two of them.”

Anything by the Everly Brothers. These guys had 38 singles hit the charts between 1957 and 1984, and many more that should have. Not to mention numerous album tracks. No better harmonies—ever—in pop music.

Crosby, Stills, and Nash, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” I’m not crazy about the first six minutes, but that last minute and a half still sends chills up my back, even after almost 40 years.

Glenn Miller, “In The Mood” (not that you’re likely to hear it on very many car radios these days, unless you’re listening to The Memory Station, WAKV.) Of all of the great big band swing instrumentals, this one set the standard, and few others even came close, except maybe Miller’s own “String Of Pearls” with the Bobby Hackett cornet solo.

Ray Price, “Night Life.” Haunting, exquisite, beautiful.

Jimmie Rodgers, “Two-ten, Six-eighteen.” (This is by the 50’s-60’s pop Rodgers, not the 1920’s country singer. One of those great songs that came out late in his career that didn’t chart nearly as well as it should have, and which is now nearly impossible to find. Even I don’t have a copy.

Nancy Wilson, “Satin Doll.” Great Song, great singer, great arrangement. And, my favorite female singer of all time.

And, many more.How about you. What are your Driveway Songs? What tunes would you want to hear all the way to the end when you pull into the driveway and are faced with the choice of shutting off the car or listening to the conclusion?