When looking back at the top car songs of all time, common themes include guitar-heavy odes to the joys of speeding and the call of the open road. Although, a more diverse list of themes and moods emerges as well.
Cars are frequently used as metaphors for romantic conquests in rock lyrics, but they can also be a symbol of cultural pride, a measure of an economic divide, or a means of escape from a bleak lifestyle. As rated by AOL Radio listeners, we present the top car songs.
10) ‘Chevy Van’ Sammy Johns
Sammy Johns largely made his living writing songs for country stars such as Waylon Jennings, Conway Twitty, and Sammy Kershaw, but he stepped up to the microphone himself for this Top 5 hit from his self-titled 1975 album.
Surprisingly, the song was never used in any car commercials, although it was the inspiration for the 1977 movie ‘The Van,’ which featured one of Danny Devito’s earliest film performances.
09) ‘Fast Car’ Tracy Chapman
Singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman burst onto the music scene in 1988 with this world-wide Top 10 hit from her self-titled debut album. Unlike many of the other top car songs on this list, this is not a light-hearted celebration of engine power or sexual pursuit.
Instead, Tracy is commanding her alcoholic, deadbeat boyfriend to take his fast car out of town so she can make a better life for their children without him.
08) ‘Brand New Cadillac’ The Clash
Many other bands, including Van Morrison, Brian Setzer, and Mott The Hoople have covered this 1958 track from British rock ‘n’ roll wildman Vince Taylor, but it was punk rock pioneers The Clash who basically claimed it as their own, with this fiery version from their 1979 masterpiece ‘London Calling.’
07) ‘Slow Ride’ Foghat
This Top 20 smash from Foghat’s 1975 album ‘Fool for the City’ was one of many US chart hits these English blues-rockers somehow managed to have during the otherwise disco-mad ’70s.
The song is most famous now as the soundtrack for the closing scene of the cult film ‘Dazed and Confused.’ Oh, and what’s a ‘Foghat?’ Reportedly, it’s just a word lead singer “Lonesome” Dave Peverett and his brother invented during a game of Scrabble.
06) ‘Cars’ Gary Numan
Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor, and Marilyn Manson have all cited new-wave pioneer Gary Numan as a big influence on their own music. This No. 1 UK hit from 1979’s ‘The Pleasure Principle’ was inspired by a scary road rage incident. While stuck in London traffic, Numan was forced to use his car as a protective shell when he was attacked by a group of angry drivers.
05) ‘Fuel’ Metallica
Clearly one of the top car songs on any respectable hot-rod loving metalhead’s list, with frontman James Hetfield proclaiming his undying love for all things over-driven and chrome-plated. This hard-charging song from 1998’s ‘ReLoad’ was used for years as the theme song for televised NASCAR events.
04) ‘Mustang Sally’ Wilson Pickett
This 1965 tune by Mack Rice became a platinum-selling R&B smash when Wilson Pickett covered it the following year. Reportedly none other than Aretha Franklin suggested Rice change the song’s title from ‘Mustang Mama’ to the more relatable ‘Sally.’ 25 years later the song served as the centerpiece for the hit movie ‘The Commitments’ as one of the first songs the rag-tag group of musicians is able to perform successfully as a band.
03) ‘Drive My Car’ The Beatles
The song tells the story of a young man seduced by a would-be starlet into ditching his perfectly fine day job to be her limo driver, with the only catch being that she doesn’t actually own a car… yet.
In 1994, McCartney and Ringo Starr joined an all-star, if slightly oddball, an assortment of musicians — including Phil Collins, Travis Tritt, and Bret Michaels — in a performance of the song as a benefit for “Rockers Against Drunk Drivers.”
02) ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ The Beach Boys
Head Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s ode to the classic 1932 Model B Ford Coupe was originally used as the B-side of the band’s 1963 single ‘Surfer Girl,’ then re-purposed as the centerpiece of their next full length.
‘Little Deuce Coupe,’ the album, featured a series of car and cruising-themed songs, and many historians now consider it one of the earliest examples of the concept record.
01) ‘Low Rider’ War
The top car song of all time is also high on many “best use of cowbell” lists. This lifestyle-defining celebration of Latino car-customizing and cruising comes from the California-based funk band’s 1975 ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends?’ album. It’s been covered by dozens of bands and featured in countless movies and television shows, most recently serving as the theme song for George Lopez’s late-night talk show.
What Are Your Top Car Songs?
Tell us what would make your list of the best car songs in the comments. Also, don’t miss our lists of the Top Summer Songs and Top 100 Classic Rock Songs.
Greetings, I am Scott Shetler, a Senior Instrument expert, and Guitarist. My hobby and passion are all about music, and I like to explore new gadgets and instruments available in the market. From my experience, I reviewed and showcase the best products on our site to ensure the worth of readers’ expectations and money.