Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Survey says... steer clear of these

Motor's runnin', blood's boilin' for 'best' car tunes selections

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Unless you wish to burst into flames, I suggest you avoid touching me because I'm burning with righteous indignation.

I am morally outraged because I have just read a USA Today story stating the website recently surveyed 2,000 motorists to determine the best and worst driving songs and -- prepare to be bowled over -- the 1981 power ballad Don't Stop Believin' by American rock band Journey topped the "best" list with 30 per cent of the vote.

I know what you are thinking here. You are thinking: "These people must have been hanging out with the mayor of Toronto, because apparently they have been smoking too much crack!"

I could not agree more. I have nothing personal against the song Don't Stop Believin' -- it is a great song for cheesy wedding videos -- but it does not deserve to be on a list of the top songs to listen to while behind the wheel, as we see from this sample lyric:

"Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world/She took the midnight train goin' anywhere/Just a city boy, born and raised in south Detroit/He took the midnight train goin' anywhere."

After examining these lyrics in an unbiased manner, the objective critic is forced to admit this is a perfectly fine song to listen to if you are riding on a train at night going anywhere, but it cannot hold a (bad word) candle to the finest driving song in history, namely the 1973 pulse-pounding anthem Radar Love, wherein Dutch rockers Golden Earring distill the essence of motoring down a highway when they sing:

"I've been drivin' all night, my hand's wet on the wheel/There's a voice in my head that drives my heel/It's my baby callin', says: I need you here/And it's a half past four and I'm shifting gear."

Now is that the sort of song that is going to get your motor revving when you are burning fossil fuels, or what? Here's a tip: Yes! I know what I am talking about, because I am a regular guy, and if we guys enjoy doing anything -- apart from watching sports highlights on TV and grilling burgers on our propane barbecues -- it is singing in our cars.

I am not trying to say women don't sing when they are in their cars (Editor's note: Yes, he is). I'm just saying it is something we guys enjoy doing because it allows us to express our innermost feelings when no one else is around to notice that, in fact, we have innermost feelings.

For instance, when you are stopped at a red light and look around, what do you always see? You always see the guy in the car beside you picking his nose, which is gross, but that is not the point. The point is, when guys are on an open stretch of road, they like to roll down the windows, crank up the volume and, with a white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel, sing along with the car radio, shrieking heart-rending tunes, such as when Meat Loaf croaks out this lyric from our second-favourite driving song, the 1977 classic Paradise by the Dashboard Light:

"I remember every little thing/As if it happened only yesterday/Parking by the lake/And there was not another car in sight."

OK, maybe that sample lyric wasn't overly thrilling, but, if you are a guy, just reading those words caused your forehead to break out in a cold sweat and your heart to start hammering in your chest like a heavy metal drummer. Also, it mentions a car, as opposed to a train.

For the record, the poll named Who Let the Dogs Out? by the Baha Men as the worst song to listen to in the car, with 29 per cent of the vote. We agree this song sucks, but it is nowhere near as bad a driving song as Afternoon Delight, the sickeningly sweet 1976 hit wherein the Starland Vocal Band yelps:

"Rubbin' sticks and stones together makes the sparks ignite/And the thought of lovin' you is getting so exciting."

A song like that could make you violently ill if you heard it in the car. But I can tell from the sensitive way you are reading this column that I don't need to tell you any of this. You and I are on the same wavelength. We don't need no letter at all, because we've got a thing... that's called Radar Love!

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 20, 2014 A12

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