Nadia Elkharadly: Driving Songs

Nadia LogoWhat did drivers do before car radio was invented?  There’s nothing more torturous to me than absolute silence while driving.  I spend a lot of time in the car.  My daily commute ranges from about thirty minutes each way (on a very very good day) to one to two hours each way (on very very VERY bad days).  Accidents, the slightest hint of inclement weather, and events like sports games, Molson Amphitheatre concerts and disasters like the Hondy/Molson/whatever it’s called now Indy are catastrophic to my sanity in proportion to how much time they add to my already painful commute.  Sometimes, the only thing that keeps me from screaming in frustration is singing.

Whether it’s a song on the radio, or something I’ve chosen to play from the motley collection of CDs I keep in the car, music is a balm to my soul on those particularly trying traffic days.  So here, in no particular order, are a few of my favourite driving songs.

“Radar Love” by Golden Earring

The fact that this song is actually about a dude driving makes it a great driving song right from the get-go.  There’s a great bass intro (you know I love some good bass), and of course those fantastic, impossible not to sing along to lyrics.  The fact that very few of us could replicate the vocal power of Barry Hay’s amazing voice, so the only really safe place to sing along to “Radar Love” is in your own car.  While you’re alone. With the windows very firmly closed to avoid embarrassment and the torture of your fellow drivers.

“Ramble On” by Led Zeppelin

It’s impossible to pick a favourite Zeppelin song, but if there was a gun to my head, and I had to choose, this would be my life-saving pick.  Unless my shooter was a total music snob, and would pull the trigger on the basis that my choice was too banal.  Either way, I adore this song, and that adoration only grows while I’m driving.

Why is “Ramble on” one of my favourite driving songs?  It’s one of the Zeppelin tracks that gets a lot of airplay, so it can come a few of the stations I listen to at any given time in my drive.  The pitter patter opening gets me every time, inducing not just a smile but a face splitting grin.  I also can’t resist the adorkable Lord of the Rings inspired lyrics that make themselves known to fantasy literature geeks like me.  And, like many other songs on this list, it just simply rocks.

“Mind Eraser” by Them Crooked Vultures

I miss Them Crooked Vultures more and more with each passing day, so their album is in heavy rotation on my car’s stereo to help me sooth the pain.  The heavy rock super group only has the one record to their name (which I’ve since acquired on vinyl as well – it was a necessary purchase), and it’s a phenomenal one.  It’s one of those albums I can listen to all the way through without ever skipping a track, and sometimes my drives home are long enough for that to actually happen.  I chose “Mind Eraser” fairly arbitrarily, because any song from that record could definitely make this list.  But this one especially is a song that’s great to drive fast to – if I ever get the chance in QEW-Gardiner gridlock that is.

“My Wave” by Soundgarden

Who’s shocked that I’ve included a Soundgarden song on my list of favourite driving tunes? Anyone? No?  Good for you boys and girls of DBAWIS land, you’ve clearly been paying attention.  I could probably drive to a full Soundgarden soundtrack for the rest of my life and be happy, so picking a single song for this list was mildly difficult.  There are multiple reasons why “My Wave” made the list.  One, much like “Ramble On”, this song gets a fair amount of radio airplay still, despite the album being nearly a decade old.  As a result, there’s always a chance I’ll get a sweet radio surprise, and find it playing as I search the airwaves for something enjoyable.  Two, it’s one of my favourite songs from their mainstream hit Superunknown.  And three, it just plain rocks.  Epic guitar riffs, an awesome bassline, an irresistible drum beat and Cornell’s signature throat wrenching scream-singing all make their presence felt on this track.  “My wave” makes you want to speed and slow down and pay attention all at the same time, and it makes any drive, long or short, all the better.

“By This Time Tomorrow” by Head of the Herd

You know that feeling, where you really want to sing along with a song on the radio, but you just don’t know all the words yet?  That’s how I feel about “By this time tomorrow” by West Coasters Head of the Herd.

The guest vocals offered up by Jasmin Parker from Mother Mother (another one of my favourite Canadian bands) just sweeten the pot of love I’ve formed for this song.  I mumble and botch the words as I attempt to belt out the tune, probably confusing the other drivers I pass since I’m singing so loudly to myself.  The discovery of this song lead to the discovery of the band’s small but fantastic back catalogue.  Head of the Herd puts out just the kind of heavy, blues driven rock I love, with just enough raunchiness in their lyrics to make me smirk and enjoy it even more.  They’re playing in Toronto this week (Saturday at the Drake Underground), and you can bet I’ll be there, enjoying their killer musical stylings outside of my car.

“Diane Young” Vampire Weekend

It’s rare these days that mainstream radio will actually turn me onto a song that I end up loving, but that’s exactly what happened with “Diane Young” by Vampire Weekend. 

This song is catchy as hell.  It only seems to have about 10 words to the whole thing, which is fine by me.  Nothing is more boredom inducing on a long drive than overwrought and overly complicated lyrics penned by angsty musicians.  Vampire Weekend are as inoffensive as a band comes; their music is lighthearted and fun, while still respectably crafted and pleasing to the ear.  I feel the smile creep on my face as its opening strains come through my car speakers, and I find myself relaxing into my seat as my body sways ever so slightly to the funloving beat.  Definitely a soother on my more irritating drives.

“The House that Heaven Built” by Japandroids

My love of two-man bands grows with every one that I discover.  Indie rockers Japandroids have that rough garage rock sound that comes with the territory of a rock duo – it’s uncomplicated, and made all the better by that lack of complication.  “The House that Heaven Built” is still getting a fair bit of radio airplay, so hearing it by chance from time to time is another one of life’s small pleasures for me.  For some reason, I prefer to listen to this song on random short jaunts rather than long highway drives.  It suits the kind of drive where I’m forced to stop at stoplights and gaze at my surroundings to pass the time, all the while tapping my (non-break pressing) foot and bobbing my head along to the beat.  It’s a city driving song, and it’s yet another one of those songs that brings a happy smile to my face once I hear it.

“I know what I am” by Band of Skulls

Band of Skulls debut album Baby Darling Dollface Honey is another record I can listen to sans skipping, but “I know what I am” is a standout favourite of mine.  This song bears the distinction of not only being one of my favourite driving songs, but of being the only song I can play on bass.  When I was in the throes of teaching myself how to play “I know what I am”, I would listen to the song on repeat in the car as I drove home, playing air-bass to ingrain the song in my head.  Not only did the time pass on the torturous drive, but my bass playing skills were ever so marginally improved.  Talk about a win win!

What are your favourite driving songs?  Sharing is caring, so use that little comment button and throw some caring our way.

Until next time,




Nadia’s column appears every Wednesday

Contact us at:

DBAWIS ButtonNadia Elkharadly is a Toronto based writer with a serious addiction to music. Corporate drone by day, renegade rocker by night, writing is her creative outlet.  Nadia writes for the Examiner (.com) on live music in Toronto and Indie Music in Canada.  She has never been in a band but plays an awesome air guitar and also the tambourine.  Check in every Tuesday for musings about music, love, life and whatever else that comes to mind.

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