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April 17, 1964 at the New York World's Fair saw the introduction of the car that would take over American culture. It was the Mustang. New sheet metal on the old Falcon chassis, the car was fun and affordable (even receptionist Sally could buy one).

Recordings of car songs go back to, well the birth of cars: Gus Edwards "In My Merry Oldsmobile," recorded in 1905. After WW2, guys started fixing their 30s and 40s junkers into customs or hot rods. Popular, country, and blues songs reflected that change: King Cole Trio "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66" [4/46], Dick Reinhart & His Lone Star Boys "Hot Rod Baby" [3/48], and the K C Douglas Trio "Mercury Boogie" [1948].

One of the first rock 'n' roll records that falls into the "hot cars" category is Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats "Rocket 88" [1951] (actually Ike Turner). Followed closely by: The Medallions "Buick 59" [8/54], Chuck Berry & His Combo "No Money Down" [1/56], and Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps "Cruisin'" [3/57]. Interspersed and followed by many, many others.

But it was 1964 and the Mustang that began the peak period of car songs. West coast groups like The Beach Boys, Ronny & The Daytonas, and Jan & Dean rode the charts in their fast cars that summer ("I Get Around" [#1], "GTO" [#4], and "The Little Old Lady (From Pasadena)" [#3]). Other pony cars, like the Barracuda (actually preceeded the Mustang by a month) and Camaro (came out in 67—see The Raiders) had their songs, too. The most famous car make into song? Cadillac, of course.

The album below is from the Motor City area. After that? A box set from Rhino to facilitate your crusin' down the highway.

The Road Runners:
The New Mustang!
London PS-381
5/64
Side One
Cute Little Colt† Paxton -
Little Deuce Coupe Christian-Wilson -
Hey Little Cobra† trad-arr Charlatans -
409 Usher-Wilson -
Competition Coupe‡ Christian-Usher -
Shut Down‡ Christian-Wilson -
Side Two
Super Torque 427‡ Christian-Usher -
Mighty Mustang Scheibach -
The New Mustang Scheibach-Schillinger -
Detroit Filly Scheibach -
Stompin' Steed Schillinger -
Road Runnah Buckles -
----------------------------------
Lead Vocals-Dennis McCarthy (409), Dick Burns (Little Deuce Coupe), Gary Paxton†, Gary Usher‡
Jerry Scheff-bass
Mike Deasy-guitar
The Road Runners are: Charlie Casper, Dave Scheibach, Jerry Schillinger, John Youngblood
Produced by: Gary Paxton

 

 


Buy 'Em By The Box

If you want your fill of the best car songs, then this Rhino box set from 1999 is the one for you. About a hundred songs, from "Rocket 88" to "Hot Rod Queen" (1998), and some ads and movie trailers, too. A comprehensive booklet is also included. Plus fuzzy dice to hang from your rear-view mirror.

Over 70% of the tracks are from the 50s and 60s—right in our groove.


Hot Rods & Custom Classics
Rhino R2-75688
3/99
Booklet

 
Fuzzy Dice

Disc One
no Artist New Car Attitude -
Ronnie Dee Action Packed 1958
The Duals Stick Shift 1961
Tex Rubinowitz Hot Rod Man 1981
Stray Cats Hotrod Gang 1983
Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps Cruisin' 1957
Golden Earring Radar Love 1973
David Lindley Mercury Blues 1981
Chuck Berry & His Combo Maybellene 1955
Robert Mitchum The Ballad Of Thunder Road 1958
Duane Eddy Forty Miles Of Bad Road 1959
Paul Revere & The Raiders SS 396 1967
Dinah Shore See the USA In Your Chevrolet 1956
The Beach Boys Little Deuce Coupe 1963
The Collins Kids Hot Rod 1957
Howlin' Wolf Mr Highway Man (Cadillac Daddy) 1952
Hank Williams Lost Highway 1949
Junior Brown Highway Patrol 1995
Bill Monroe Heavy Traffic Ahead 1946
Mr Bean & His Bearcats Radar 1955
Johnny "Guitar" Watson Motorhead Baby 1953
Denny Freeman Led Sled 1986
51 Merc vs 60 Impala Rev Off -
Disc Two
The Doobie Brothers Rockin' Down The Highway 1972
The Rip Chords Hey Little Cobra 1963
Deke Dickerson & The Ecco-Fonics Hot Rod Queen 1998
Johnny Bond Hot Rod Lincoln 1960
Ramblin' Jimmie Dolan Hot Rod Race 1951
no Artist Drag Race 1960
Curtis Gordon Draggin' 1956
Johnny Fortune Dragster 1963
Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps Race With The Devil 1956
The B-52's Devil In My Car 1980
George Thorogood & The Destroyers Ride On Josephine 1977
Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats Rocket "88" 1951
Lttle Walter & His Jukes Key To The Highway 1951
War Low Rider 1975
Thee Midniters Whittier Blvd 1965
Billy "The Kid" Emerson Every Woman I Know 1957
Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Three One Piece At A Time 1976
Albert King Cadillac Assembly Line 1976
Maurice King & His Wolverines I Want A Lavender Cadillac 1951
Baker Knight & the Knightmares Bring My Cadillac Back 1956
Sammy Masters & His Rocking Rhythm Pink Cadillac 1956
Nervous Norvus Transfusion 1956
Dave Edmunds Crawling From The Wreckage 1979
Jan & Dean Dead Man's Curve 1964
James Dean 1955 Interview 1955
Disc Three
The Collegians Let's Go For A Ride 1958
Canned Heat On The Road Again 1968
John Hiatt Drive South 1988
Big Boy Groves & Band I Gotta New Car 1955
Chuck Berry & His Combo No Money Down 1956
Dave Edmunds Dear Dad 1982
Leon Smith Little Forty Ford 1959
The Grand Prix 41 Ford 1963
Phranc 64 Ford 1991
The Green Hornets Stolen Car 1996
The Ramones Go Lil' Camaro Go 1987
Bo Diddley Road Runner 1959
The Playmates Beep Beep 1958
The Delicates Black & White Thunderbird 1959
Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps Pink Thunderbird 1957
The Customs 54 Corvette 1963
The Routers Sting Ray 1963
Nelson Riddle Orch Route 66 Theme 1962
Jan And Arnie Gas Money 1958
Rod Stewart Gasoline Alley 1970
Disc Four
Wilson Pickett Mustang Sally 1966
Arlen Sanders Hopped-Up-Mustang 1964
Dick Dale & His Del-Tones Wild, Wild Mustang 1964
The Quads 409 1963
The Spaniels Automobiles 1959
Mose Allison V-8 Ford Blues 1962
Sonny Boy Williamson Pontiac Blues 1951
Ronnie & The Daytonas GTO 1964
Carol & Cheryl Go Go GTO 1965
Buddy Randell & The Knickerbockers Bite Bite Barracuda 1964
Honey Boy Allen Ford V-8 1958
Chuck Berry No Paticular Place To Go 1964
The Shutdowns Four In The Floor 1963
Jimmy Carroll Big Green Car 1958
The Four Teens Spark Plug 1958
The Medallions Buick 59 1954
The Fugitives Freeway 1960
Pure Prairie League Two Lane Highway 1975
Dave Dudley Six Days On The Raod 1963
The Flying Burrito Brothers Wheels 1969

 


Links!
Car song (@ wiki)
Top 25 Car Songs of All Time as Voted by the HOT ROD Readers
Top 100 Car Songs Of The '50s And '60s
Top Ten Car Songs of Rock and Roll (@ Hagerty)

 


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