On today’s Music Monday I would like to talk about three songs that are about the road, about driving. The road movies of songs, basically.
Let’s start with I Drove All Night, a song written by Steinberg & Kelley initially for Roy Orbison. It was a hit for Cyndi Lauper in 1989, and later for Céline Dion in 2003.
The songwriters Billy Steinberg & Tom Kelly may not be household names to most people, but they were behind many well-known songs and seem to just churn out hit after hit after hit. They were also behind Eternal Flame and In Your Room by the Bangles, Like A Virgin by Madonna, I’ll Stand By You by The Pretenders and Alone by Heart, just to name a few.
I Drove All Night is basically a very cheesy love song about someone who drives all night to be with the person they love. What I like about it is the image of someone actually driving for hours along a dark, long, straight and probably mostly empty road, simply to spend some time with the other person. So driving is the effort that is made to be with someone else. Sweet.
I was dreaming while I drove
the long straight road ahead
to taste your sweet kisses
your arms open wide
this fever for you is just
burning me up inside
I drove all night to get to you
[Read the complete lyrics at azlyrics.com.]
While I Drove All Night is lyrically simple, there’s always Ani DiFranco who can talk about the most trite things in such a way that it becomes extraordinary. At least that’s how *I* feel about her lyrics. Here’s her take on driving.
cloud blood smudge smeared on the sky
it’s dawns roadkill
i’ve been driving since midnight
and i’m driving still
stop on the top of the ridge
just to feel the wind on my rand mcnally
then i feel the air grow cold
as i drift in to the first blue of the valley
and you’re wondering how far down you are on my
call back list
but you don’t realize
everytime i find i’m by a phone the landscape shifts
[Read the complete lyrics at danah.org.]
In this song, especially with the way the music sounds, driving feels more like something monotonous. She’s been driving since midnight, the sun is coming up, she’s tired and taking a break. She gets cold, keeps on driving, her road map by her side. Maybe she’s driving to get away from someone (literally and metaphorically), or maybe she’s just thinking of the other person now because the monotony of driving doesn’t offer enough distraction so that she ends up thinking about whatever went wrong in her relationship.
The “every time I’m by a phone the landscape shifts” line is not part of the driving imagery, but it’s my favorite line in the song. You know, because the other person might be annoyed or disappointed that she doesn’t call, disappointed about how far they have fallen on Ani’s list of priorities, when in reality whatever happened is still a big struggle for Ani, and every time the opportunity to call opens up, it starts dominating her thoughts. Well, that’s my take on it, anyway.
The song ends with more tiresome and exhausting driving. Oh, she puts it so well.
it’s been way too long
since i’ve been behind the wheel
headlights guiding me right through the dark
dry eyed, trying to resist
sleeps first kiss
everytime i have time to think
i think of this
And lastly, there’s the song Road Trippin’ by the Red Hot chilli Peppers, which is basically the description of a fun road trip with friends, of leaving everything behind to get away to some fun times. One could argue that the song also implies drug use, but I personally don’t see it that way. To me it’s about getting your friends and some snacks and going “anywhere”. The destination doesn’t matter as much as the way to get there.
Road trippin’ with my two favorite allies
Fully loaded we got snacks and supplies
It’s time to leave this town
It’s time to steal away
Let’s go get lost
Anywhere in the U.S.A.
- Cyndi Lauper – I Drove All Night [Grooveshark]
- Roy Orbison – I Drove All Night [Grooveshark]
- Ani DiFranco – Cloud Blood [Grooveshark]
- Jay Tea – Cloud Blood (Ani Cover) [YouTube]
- Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Road Trippin’ [Grooveshark]
- Wikipedia article on Road Trippin’
- Wikipedia article on I Drove All Night