Have you noticed how few songs there are about new motor vehicles. I can name a few from the 50's and 60s, but I cannot name a famous rock or pop song that that explicitly refers to a vehicle manufactured in the last ten or so years.

There are still musicians who sing about cars and motorbikes, e.g. bands like Clutch and Fu Manchu, although their songs are nostalgia for a lost golden age of motoring rather than praise for the modern car.

Fun fun fun 'til your daddy took the Mondeo away? It doesn't sound right; indeed why should musicians be inspired to serenade a family saloon? Today's cars are designed to be dull; Who would buy a car with 'personality' when they could have one that is reliable. As the cars have improved, musician's relationships with the car have transformed from one of obsession into ambivalence.

Musicians began singing about cars in the 50's when thanks to the American post-war manufacturing revolution, a car was something an average person could own. For the first few who could afford a car it was a liberating and inspirational machine.

In the 60's the Beach Boys gave us songs like Little Deuce Coupe and Fun Fun Fun. Steppenwolf gave us a thrilling ode to the motorcycle: Born to be Wild, and the car obsession even spread to Britain: In 1966 the Beatles sang "Baby You can Drive my Car".

This was the decade when Cadillacs had big fins and movies like "The Italian Job" made stars of cars. It was a time of songs that equate optimism and happiness with driving a cool vehicle. This really was a golden age of the car.

By the 80's musicians attitudes to the car has changed; In Gary Numan's rather melancholic Cars, the car is shown as isolating place of refuge. Whenever I hear the song it creates image of being stuck in an M25 tailback in the pouring rain. Although more up-beat, Billy Ocean's Get out of my Dreams and Into my car show the car as just a means to an end. Neither song name-checks or praises the car; the car is just a functional machine.

In the 90's and 00's our feelings toward the car have embittered. The 90's was the first decade where the UK (traditionally a strongly pro-motoring country) saw intense anti-motorway protests. Anti Motoring campaigners such as Swampy became folk heroes overnight. With the economic boom of the 90's our cities swelled and driving was no longer the great liberty; we are heavily taxed for driving on gridlocked roads in our standardised car products that apart from corporate logos, the occasional luxury are much the same as each other.

Even today's concept of "Drive-time" radio helps us enjoy our drive by making us forget that we are in our cars; something that would seem absurd for the 50's pioneer of motoring.

In the 50's people sang about cars. In the twenties and thirties it was the railroad that caught the musicians imagination. Perhaps before that there was an entire genre of folk musicians who obsessed upon the horse and cart, and before that people sang about the simple pleasures of walking. I'm not sure what our decade sings about yet; certainly not telecommuting!


Update: Minutes after posting this writeup people began to remind me how narrow my taste in music has become.

TAFKAH "Nobody sings about "new" cars. people have always sung about the "old" cars of their time, not the new ones. "Little Deuce Coupe" was about a souped-up 1930s Ford Model A. The only time a "new" car figures into a song is when someone is singing about a rich daddy's-boy (or girl) as in "Fun, Fun, Fun".

"I'd imagine there are plenty of songs this minute, especially dance tunes--about 1980s and 1990s Japanese coupes, since that's what those musicians customize and race like the Deuce Coupes of old"

Any references to Rock & Popular Music's growing disdain for the car please msg me!