Car Driving Songs

the national
Because I’ve been listening to the National in my car non-stop for the past few weeks, I started thinking about what songs I really love to put on when I’m behind the wheel, and what music has actually informed my vehicular motion through the years.

Rock Lobster – B-52s

I was 6, driving through tunnels and mountains to the hot springs of Abra. My dad alternated between The Police’s Sonyatta Regatta and this B-52’s album. He and my mom fought intermittently, and every time I put my thumb in my mouth, my nanny would scare me and say the Supsup (thumbsuck) monster was going to get me.

I Know You Love Me – Smoking Popes

My millenium boyfriend, Ibba, did a lot of driving before he got totally into motorcycles. He had one of those pimped up cars with a pimped up car stereo because he was a politician, had rich parents and he didn’t really (have to) work. Basically he chauffered me to and from dates and gigs and other things I wanted to do with my life. I fought with him all the time and he would always play the Smoking Popes to make me feel guilty. I always felt trapped.

There is a Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths

When I first moved to California i didn’t really have a car, and Mark, my bandmate, would pick me up so we could go to band practice. I was also living with my aunt and grandmother in this really quiet gated community with gigantic houses. Everything closed at 10 p.m., except for bars, which closed at 2 a.m. I was totally not used to it, having lived in giant party city Manila and was just in Hong Kong and Seoul before Orange County. My big dream at the time was to drive really fast and scream at the top of my lungs through Tustin Ranch Road, and Barranca, and Newport. “Driving in your car, I never never want to go home, Because I havent got one Anymore” never meant so much to me before then.

Lorge – El Ten Eleven

This also reminds me of working in Costa Mesa and driving to work in my rinky dink Toyota Corolla. I didn’t have an iPod, I had a CD player, so to protect my CDs I would burn CDs onto blanks so I could toss those around in my car. This was a band introduced to me by my druggie ex, so there are many memories of driving around getting prescriptions filled and stuff too.

Killing an Arab – The Cure

When my grandfather ran for political office in his island province my mom put the whole family in our big falling-apart Japanese van and brought us to the countryside where paved roads would end abruptly into the beach or dissolve into cracked slabs. That van broke down on us so many times, but I had a tiny version of a boombox, a portable tape player, where we played The Cure and The Indigo Girls, and the Beatles as well. I finished Vikram Seth’s 800-tome “A Suitable Boy” that summer. I wish I started reading Proust then.

Is That All There Is – PJ Harvey and Fugee-la by the Fugees.

Indonesia, 10 years ago. A bus trip from Yogyakarta to Bali. To drown out my dad’s snores I had the volume all the way up to 11. Everytime I think of Indonesia I sing, ‘ready or not, here i come, you can’t hide.”

Regret – New Order

Manitto was a hothead, my freshman college blockmate who made it his duty to drive me to and from school because my house was on the way. He also taught me to drive. My task as a passenger in his car was to press the rewind button on the New Order tape so he could have that song on repeat. That, and SWV’s “Human Nature” cover, Cathy Dennis’ “Too Many Walls,” and the B-52’s “Roam.”

On Sundays, when he didn’t want to go through College Military Training, he would wake up at 6 a.m., tell his father he was going to school, and have breakfast in my house. I was never awake at this time, of course, but the maids would fry him eggs and corned beef, and he would sit in my 103 year-old grandmother’s room and talk to her about giant shrimp hiding in her closet til I woke up.

fire island, ak – The Long Winters

Maybe ithe band name was the inadvertent herald for the way I felt about Wisconsin when I moved. But for some reason, everytime I wanted to think about Los Angeles while getting lost in Milwaukee, I would put this album on. It made me think of the Miracle Mile, the LACMA, Sunset Blvd., driving, driving, driving to no end.

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