My very good pal Domenic Priore was just visiting from the Left Coast, promoting his grand new book “Pop Surf Culture: Music, Design, Film, and Fashion from the Bohemian Surf Boom” (Santa Monica Press) (and REQUIRED READING, by the way!)
We duly began discussing the flat-out importance of The Road in rock ‘n’ roll culture, and teenaged society in general, back during that apparently long-lost Golden Age of both.
Which then led me to virtually compile for us all a RRR Dashboard Top Ten, as it were.
So then, with tops down and volumes all the way UP…..
1. ” I GET AROUND” by THE BEACH BOYS (1964)
Instrumentally (the arrangement and production effectively trounced ALL comers that summer of ’64), lyrically (though one can safely interpret “I’m gettin’ bugged drivin’ up and down the same old strip, I gotta find a new place where the kids are hip” as B. Wilson’s hint at the non-sun, non-hit, B.Boy phase to come), and atmospherically THE hands-down, Number One car tune Of All Time. And, backed as it was on its original seven inches with “Don’t Worry Baby,” just maybe the greatest single SINGLE of all time!
2. “CRUISIN’ MUSIC” by (THE) RASPBERRIES (1974)
The not-lately great Eric Carmen’s definitive Brian Wilson tribute; the logical descendant of “I Get Around” (by way of “Do It Again”), and quite possibly the finest car/radio tune of its decade. Should’ve been revived by It’s My Party on the “Josie and the Pussycats” soundtrack, for starters.
3. “I WANT TO BE YOUR DRIVER” by CHUCK BERRY (1965)
The Great Chuck could arguably be said to have invented not only the duck-walk and the ding-a-ling (not to mention certain stomach-curdling after-show water-sports), but the Car Tune too (eg: “Maybellene,” “You Can’t Catch Me,” et all!). Yet THIS little-heard wonder was cruelly denied hit status – even after Lennon & McCartney gamely re-wrote it as “Drive My Car.”