Wednesday 6 April 2011

Road Songs

Are your a nodder, or a tapper? A screamer or a finger-snapper? Or maybe you go for introspection, your face an unreadable tableau of well-concealed emotions.

Fret not, for this is not a survey about outlandish sexual practices, but rather the myriad expressions I come across whenever I am behind the wheel. Once more spring has lifted the curtain to the annual spectacle that Britain becomes as soon as winter gives way to temperatures in their late teens. Minus the stroppiness and the talk-back.

Listening to music whilst driving is an activity in which we all indulge. Pardon me for being so absolute, but I don't think there's anyone out there who has not hummed his or her way through an entire school run whilst the little ones wreak havoc in the back. However, have you ever stopped to look at your fellow drivers? Especially when they seem to be carried away by the sheer power of the music they're playing? I mentioned this phenomenon briefly in a post last year, but it's only lately that my attention has been turned once again to motorists who cruise through our roads adopting various guises in the process.

For instance, the screamer is easy to spot. He or she will have a wide smile on their face whilst belting out an anthemic pop song at the top of their lungs; a melody usually of the mainstream variety. Like Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)", for example. Especially the chorus at the end: "Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday's alright..."

I wouldn't recommend snapping your fingers whilst you're driving, but nothing can stop you from doing so when stationary and waiting for the lights to change. I can clearly picture you attempting to keep time to Tennessee Ernie Ford's '16 Tons'.

If, on the other hand, you're a combination of nodder and tapper, then the next track is for you. The simple drumbeat in this song is enough to send the most earnest of drivers into a serious head-and-hands workout. Better still if you're wearing some jewellery. Tapping with both your ringed and ringless fingers on the wheel alternatively will produce some amazing musical results. Trust me, I've been there. And, lest I forget, the young woman in the clip below is none other than Penélope Cruz. I think this was her very first public appearance, although I could be wrong.

Last, but not least, it's the pensive driver. Your inscrutable face is the Da Vince Code of the road. The mystery I've always wanted to solve. I know that you're listening to music in the comfort of your car, I can see you mouthing the lyrics, your gaze lost in the distance, as you wait for pedestrians to cross the street. But, what I'm desperate to find out is: what's playing on your car stereo? In the absence of a concrete answer, however, let's hazard a guess: you're listening to Sevara Nazarkhan, the Uzbek singer, songwriter and doutar player. And let's leave it at that, shall we? As for me, I'm a combination of all the types described above. Because nothing beats a good song on the road.

© 2011

Next Post: ‘Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music’, to be published on Sunday 10th April at 10am (GMT)


  1. Gone are the days when I dream with the music;)

    Cuban, if you come visit, don't miss the letter E:)

  2. wonderful sequence of songa and reflections - Greetings from Mexico!

  3. What a treat - a mid week post full of great music. I ride the bus so I try not to sing out loud - though in SF, nobody would notice. But at home, I sing along with the opera and pretend I can hit all the high notes. My acting could politely be compared to Florence Jenkins (ie, over the top, horrible voice and really really cheesy acting). I play air guitar with the best of them and when I'm playing my huge selection of Latin music, I swing those hips and pretend I'm Cecelia Cruz. Oh what fun! And Tennessee Ernie Ford - you are indeed a man of wide ranging knowledge and tastes. When I was a teen, I was in a folk singing group and 16 Tons was one of the songs we sang. i wanted to be the new Joan Baez but my voice was alto, not soprano and my hair, alas, was way too curly. But we had fun.

  4. You didn't mention the crooners! I'm one of those. My lips are puckered and my eyes are closed and I'm crooning my heart out.


  5. I'm a mock dancer behind the wheel, Cuban, and it drives my children crazy. They get so embarrassed.

  6. Wonderful selection. A real treat to see the early Penelope Cruz. As for me, I'm afraid I'm not a very good car companion because I'm constantly surfing the radio stations and CDs to find something which fits my mood ... which might just need silence. It drives my husband crazy. So while together in the car we may take the easy way out and not listen to anything.

  7. I don't drive but I am a nodder and a hummer. Adele's latest is what I'm listening to now. Penelope was a baby in that clip!It looks like early 90s. Thanks for the introduction to Sevarna, very engrossing sound.

  8. Many thanks to you all for your comments.

    Fly, well spot! That clip is from 1990. And Adele is causing a storm here in the UK. Good for her.

    Jai, what kind of crooner? Ol' Blue Eyes? :-)

    Namastenancy, that was some anecdote. Loved it.

    Greetings from London.

  9. Hee. ;-) Great music. I'm like you, I'm a good combo. If no one is around my favorite is to belt it out with Cash on the long TX highways.

  10. ps. I like the new look of your blog. ;-)

  11. Cuban, you've got the knack of a stand-up comic - to take something really mundane and everyday, something we all(?) do, and make it entertaining and noteworthy. (Inadvertent pun)
    Lately I've been grooving (slightly more than nodding) to U2 and Steppenwolf, Jim Morrison and Carole King. Golden-oldies on Calgary radio. When I'm driving in France I listen to France Culture - for the discussions, something I don't have the patience to do when anywhere else. And there ain't no tapping going on there, I tell ya. r



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...