CHEESY RIDERS

An early example of cheesyism can be found in the EAGLES-canon. Apart from the rather clumsy attempt at being funny (ironic?), Take it Easy is sexist in a straightforward way:

Well I’m running down the road
tryin’ to loosen my load
I’ve got 7 women on my mind
Four that wanna own me
Two that wanna stone me
one says she’s a friend of mine

Still there has been a certain evolution since the times Neal Cassady raced across the continent, leaving pregnant women and unfinished business behind. The girls of the Eagles are allowed to climb on—even to drive a car by themselves, thus being

such a fine sight to see
it’s a girl, my Lord, in a flat-bed Ford
slowin’ down to take a look at me

How do you call them, the bunch of jazzers, singers, electronic musicians (NAT KING COLE, DEPECHE MODE, RADIO BIRDMAN, THE REPLACEMENTS) who sang about THE—capital letters—road through Americana, Route 66? "Cheesy"—yes, maybe, but only in the positive sense of the word: Being as cheesy as Ed Wood-movies, the early SciFi-Erotic-movie Barbarella or the holy virgin in a Mexican church, being redundant and yet an integral part of a nation’s culture and society. Get the picture? That’s (exactly?) what ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL’S version of the song is (1976).

In the above explanation BONO VOX would be the antipode, the cheesy singer who is redundant and ... well: redundant. He has never been able to write decent lyrics: In "A Sort of Homecoming" from "The Unforgettable Fire" he sounds like a TV-preacher from Alabama:

And you hunger for the time
time to heal, "desire" time
and ...
tonight, a high road, a high road out of here

And we live by the side of the road
on the side of the hill as the valleys explode
dislocated, suffocated
the land grows weary of itself

 

TRACY CHAPMAN asks the "gender-question" in a way which is unworthy of the noble cause ("Fast Car"). Does shifting roles necessarily mean to re-cycle the old cliches?

You got a fast car
and I got a job that pays all the bills
you stay out drinking late at the bar

...

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so we can fly away?

In another song she has to make the existential decision between good and evil, god and devil—left and right (politically speaking it may also be vice versa) at the "Crossroads":

Standing at the point, the road it cross you down,
What is at your back? Which way do you turn?

She’s got a point here which is often neglected: Driving, searching, fleeing, etc. also includes decision-making. There ain’t no road which goes straight to heaven! Where do I go? Who do I follow? In her case the answer is clear:

I say all you demons go back to hell,
I’ll save my soul, save myself.

 

Innumerable contributions have been made to the life-is-a-highway theme. If you are looking for a comprehensive list of life-is-a-highway songs—we’re sure there must be one out there! Since this is a personal approach to the topic, only one example is picked out—a very life-is-a-highwayish one:

Life is a highway
I want to ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
I want to drive it all night long

(Tom Cochrane from Mad Mad World (1991)

 

 

SCHMUCK BY SCHMOES

Can we help you, Sir? What commodity would you like to consume? Male chauvinism? Asphalt/concrete/highway-cowboy romanticism? Rolling-stone individualism?
You name it!
We’ve got the whole spectrum:

Steppenwolf on their legendary joy-ride through Americana are, for example, typical of the utopian view of a world which seems to be boundless:

Like a true nature’s child
We were born to be wild...
We are gonna make it happen
take the world in a love-embrace

As an anthem of a generation of adolescents it needed to be destroyed like Jimi Hendrix’s "Star Sprangled Banner" and replaced by less simplistic notions.

Alice Cooper evokes the symbolic meaning of power ("Under my wheel" from Killer, 1971) by placing the male protagonist at the wheel and his "babe" under the wheel:

I’m driving right up to you babe
I guess that you cannot see
But you are under my wheels
why don’t you let me be

Soon the myth of black leather, hot rods, and endless highways had paid off well and schmuck rock groups of various  backgrounds produced fuel to keep the machine running. In 1972 Deep Purple had two things which they loved and needed: the car and the love they made in the backseat ("Highway Star" from Deepest Purple):

Nobody can take my car
I gonna race it all around
it’s a killer machine
it’s got everything
I love it and I need it I feed it

Golden Earring’s "Radar Love" can be considered a 70ies classic and an example of how fast Europeans caught up to U.S. rock groups:

I’ve been drivin’ all night
my hands sweat on the wheel...
it’s half past four and I’m shifting gears...

We got a thing
and that is called radar love
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Needless to say that the Germans too know how to rock:

Music rocks me down the motorway...
Lovedrive on wheels of fire
Lovedrive—just one desire
Love, sweet love, you drive me crazy baby (Scorpions, "Lovedrive", 1979)

and so do the Australians: AC/DC, "Highway to hell." When it comes to dreams and fantasies about adventures on the road there are no geographical boundaries. The phenomenon has long been a universal one. What is striking, however, is that despite the many different attempts to ridicule schmoes doing schmuck, they have never stopped whining. The desire to escape the ratrace, to get away from the boring civilisation is still existing. So they still pretend to be reckless cowboys on the road, nature’s children and wild at heart, while they are married, have 3 kids, a mortgage and are worrying about their pensions. Metallica are quoted here as an example of heavy metal that may have changed its covers and outfits slightly over the years, but the songs remain the same:

When the road becomes my bride
I am stripped of all but pride
in her I do confide
and she keeps me satisfied

("Wherever I roam" from Metallica)


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