Do women sing about cars?
July 12, 2008 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Do women sing about cars?

Just now I heard Margo Thunder's cover of "Expressway to Your Heart" and it made me realize that I almost never hear women singing automobile-themed songs. I have easily heard hundreds of car songs during my life - of which two were performed by women. (The other one: Lucinda Williams' "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.") I think there's an essay in this, maybe, if the thesis holds up. So I'm asking you for additional examples: If I get lots, the theory goes out the window; if indeed there are very few, that'll help me prove my point.
posted by GrammarMoses to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Janis Joplin - Mercedes Benz
posted by bwanabetty at 9:27 AM on July 12, 2008

Aretha Franklin - Pink Cadillac
posted by brain cloud at 9:28 AM on July 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Tracy Chapman - Fast Car.
posted by tiny crocodile at 9:31 AM on July 12, 2008

Tracy Chapman - Fast Car
Beth Orton - Stolen Car
Haley Bonar - Car Wreck
posted by nathan_teske at 9:33 AM on July 12, 2008

Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth sings about Expressways and roads quite a bit. There's probably a car song in their discography somewhere.
posted by DenOfSizer at 9:33 AM on July 12, 2008

Search on the Car Talk site (department of Automusicology). You will find many songs about cars by woman artists.
posted by found missing at 9:36 AM on July 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

Kathy Mattea, 455 Rocket
posted by sondrialiac at 9:37 AM on July 12, 2008

Bye Bye by Jo Dee Messina is somewhat car themed
posted by sondrialiac at 9:37 AM on July 12, 2008

The radio show Car Talk always comes up with the most obscure and clever car-related songs to play as filler. Turns out they have a list of hundreds of them here. Out of the first 10, looks like 4 are by women.
posted by libraryhead at 9:41 AM on July 12, 2008

Elastica - Car Song
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:00 AM on July 12, 2008

Oh, you know, I totally forgot about that Aretha song - not to mention "Freeway of Love," from the same album. Dang.
posted by GrammarMoses at 10:02 AM on July 12, 2008

PJ Harvey - Driving
Breeders - Drivin' on 9
Elastica - Car Song
posted by citron at 10:03 AM on July 12, 2008

If I get lots, the theory goes out the window; if indeed there are very few, that'll help me prove my point.

What's your theory, your point? It can't be that women never sing about cars; you knew that from the start. Is it that women don't sing about cars as often as men do? That could be true even if you get "lots" (?) of examples here.

You need to take a list of car songs and see how many are by women, then take a list of all sorts of songs (any theme, maybe the top X hits of all time or something like that) and see how many are by women. Are the ratios are different? After you weight it, you might discover that a woman is more likely to sing about cars than a man is, and that it is only that there are more men singing.

But I doubt that will be the result. If women are going to sing about any thing in particular, I'm betting it will be a house, not a car: women want men to come back to the house or they want men the fuck out of the house; men want women in their cars. Historically, anyway. Now, with so many unchaperoned young snips of girls behind the wheels of auto-mobiles (I blame the automatic transmission), things may have changed.

If you're going to investigate this further, be sure to post your results here.
posted by pracowity at 10:12 AM on July 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

Oops, didn't refresh before posting. :)

Liz Phair - Johnny Sunshine
Rihanna - Shut Up and Drive
posted by citron at 10:15 AM on July 12, 2008

Edith Frost - Cars and Parties
The Sugarcubes (Björksinging) - Motorcrash
posted by Xalf at 10:27 AM on July 12, 2008

Cyndi Lauper- I Drove All Night
Tori Amos- Cars and Guitars
posted by kimdog at 10:38 AM on July 12, 2008

Many of the songs mentioned are not about cars. Starting at the top: "Mercedes Benz" is about conspicuous consumerism. You might want to distinguish between songs that are about cars and songs that happen to mention cars when you peruse the Car Talk list.
"Pink Cadillac" is by Bruce Springsteen, but most famously performed by Natalie Cole. Aretha's song is "Freeway of Love".
posted by nowonmai at 10:39 AM on July 12, 2008

Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell
Car on a Hill - Joni Mitchell
posted by paulsc at 11:43 AM on July 12, 2008

Oh, good. Now, in addition to the usual scientific-method, survey-precision stuff that pracowity mentions, we've got to find some kind of objective way of determining whether a song about a car is a song about a car.

Just to hit the trifecta: what if some of these women aren't really women?

Here's a bit of original music that Missy Elliott did for a Jeep commercial.
posted by box at 12:03 PM on July 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell
Car on a Hill - Joni Mitchell

Those two, to take just a couple of examples because I'm familiar with them, are only very tangentially about cars; you probably wouldn't have put them here if they didn't have cars in the titles. In the first, a big yellow taxi takes her man away (she's still in the house and he's now in the car), but most of the song isn't about that man or that taxi. In the second, she's waiting for a car on the hill -- a car has much more of a presence in this song than in Big Yellow Taxi -- but she's waiting in the house for a car to bring her man back. But she's not singing "house" songs, either, she's singing man-woman (or, more generally, singer-and-his-or-her-partner) songs.

Probably most men's "car" songs (as loosely defined by most of the examples above) also are really about women. The Cars "Drive" and so on. There can't be many odes to certain cars in the goofy "Little Deuce Coupe" style. "Little Red Corvette" is not about a Corvette.
posted by pracowity at 12:10 PM on July 12, 2008

Driving Lesson - Garbage
posted by idiotfactory at 12:41 PM on July 12, 2008

Girl In Old Blue Volvo Disowns Self – Juliana Hatfield
Take Me To The Backseat – The Donnas
posted by nicwolff at 12:59 PM on July 12, 2008

Melissa Etheridge - You Can Sleep While I Drive
posted by Iteki at 1:26 PM on July 12, 2008

Neko Case - My '63
posted by Midnight Rambler at 1:57 PM on July 12, 2008

Thank you, pracowity, for sussing out the deeper question. Because indeed, many of these "car" songs are not the type I was really wondering about in my vague OP. The nascent idea in my head (aside from the obvious Freudian connection) was basically this: men feel inspired to write and sing about themselves owning and riding in cars, and women don't, so much. I like your notion that the "house song" is the distaff version of the "car song," but I do wonder why it is that women and home are so often linked - by themselves and others.

I was thinking about celebrate-my-ride boasts like "Rocket 88" or "409" or "Hot Rod Lincoln", or sex metaphors like "Pink Cadillac" and "Little Red Corvette." (I realize that the two overlap.) I don't know the song "Take Me to the Backseat," but it sounds like that may have a connection with the second category.

And thanks, nowonmai, for that link. Wow, that's an embarrassing mistake. At least others have (apparently) made it before me...
posted by GrammarMoses at 2:05 PM on July 12, 2008

Driving Sideways - Aimee Mann
posted by Orinda at 3:12 PM on July 12, 2008

Lush, 500. I remember a Pitchfork or sumother review moaning about how odd the lyric "they call you little mouse by name in Rome and Turin" was, and wondering if they ever figured out "500" was all about a tiny Fiat whose name actually did translate to "little mouse" (Topolino).

I guess that doesn't change the fact that it's an awkward lyric. Still, lovely song.

Also, not only do we a) have to do the statistical analysis and b) determine whether a song is actually about cars, we might also have to check if c) the woman singing wrote the song, or if some other woman wrote the song. And then figure out the balance of male to female songwriters.

Or maybe I'll just put on "Car Song" again. Here we go again...
posted by chrominance at 4:28 PM on July 12, 2008

No Nanci Griffith? Cars feature regularly in her songs and she's written a few about driving and cars in general. Ford Econoline is probably the obvious one.
posted by fire&wings at 4:34 PM on July 12, 2008

I just love that I'm not the only one who's fond of Elastica's Car Song. Must now go listen again...
posted by batgrlHG at 11:04 PM on July 12, 2008

Pull up to my bumper baby...
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 11:06 AM on July 14, 2008

the blow - what tom said about the women (though of course it's a girl singing from a guy's perspective). still a hot song.
posted by Soulbee at 6:45 AM on July 16, 2008

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