3 of the best 90's songs
About Cars That'll Make Austin Powers Say “Yeah Baby!”
by Bill Flitter
For those of us in our 40s—who still feel like they are 20, ok, maybe 30 years old, music has a very special place in our hearts. A few weeks ago I posted the best songs about cars from the 80s, which most likely brought back memories from High School. But then after High School came college and a whole new decade of rock was born. I figured I would follow-up with the best 90’s songs about cars. While Kurt Cobain never sang about cars in the 90s, many other bands used cars as imagery to great effect, including Cake, The Wallflowers, and The Replacements.
…and Rosanne signing the The National Anthem isn’t one of them.
The Best 90’s Songs About Cars
If you attended college in the 90s, then you know Cake. The band still tours, although you might have to look it up to believe it. Back in 1996 though it was rare to find someone who didn’t know the first verse to The Distance…
Engines pumping and thumping in time.
The green light flashes, the flags go up.
Churning and burning, they yearn for the cup.
The song has a pulse to it, a rhythm that forces you to bump along with the music. You’re cheering for the hero though you have no idea why. Suddenly you find yourself driving way too fast down the highway. Should probably turn down the volume and lay off the gas while driving to one of the best 90’s songs.
The Wallflowers—One Headlight
The Wallflowers, fronted by Jakob Dylan, had their heyday in 1996 with the release of Bringing Down the Horse. That album featured the songs One Headlight and 6th Avenue Heartache. The song One Headlight earned the band a Grammy for Best Rock Band in 1998. Rolling Stone has it on their list of 100 Greatest Rock Songs. So, it has to go down as one of the best 90’s songs. One Headlight is a soft pop song with a driving chorus. I’m sure many of you still have it memorized to this day.
We put it all together
We can drive it home
With one headlight
Listening to the song’s lyrics you might think it’s about the death of a friend, but according to interviews with Jakob Dylan the song is more about the death of ideas. While the song isn’t directly related to cars, the imagery in the song—we can drive it home; with one headlight—definitely conjures up imagery of driving home at night, perhaps through the fog, rain, or snow, and that perseverance and diligence will get you home.
The Replacements—Someone Take the Wheel
In 1990 The Replacements released their last studio album as a band, even though many people would argue that All Shook Down was Paul Westerberg’s first solo album, which just happened to still have bass player Tommy Stinson and drummer Chris Mars playing along with guitarist Slim Dunlap. The song, Someone Take the Wheel, was released as a promotional single. However, it was the song Merry Go Round that gained traction as the #1 song on Modern Rock Tracks Billboard listings. While Someone Take the Wheel might not have received much radio play back in the day, it’s still one of the most emotionally draining songs on the album. The lyrics are all about the band breaking up—someone take the wheel; and I don’t know where we’re going. The opening words tell a true story of how they once trashed a tour bus—Rip out the table; we need room to move. They were a band on the brink of destruction and even though Someone Take the Wheel is a hard rockin’ number, the song’s tone will leave you aching for better times.
and I don’t care where we’re going
anybody say what you feel
everybody’s sad, but nobody’s showin’
Even though Paul Westerberg never had a driver’s license, he (wisely) let others do the driving, even if it meant veering off course and driving off a cliff.
Over to You
What other songs from the 90s used cars as a metaphor? You might remember some hidden tracks buried deep on albums that you used to play on repeat. Let us here at Carjojo know your favorites…