YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Rap music fuels new road songs

June 10, 2004

Regarding Dan Neil's "The Tires Sing, the Wind Hums, the Radio Rocks" [June 3]: Excellent as always, and the lack of road rock is lamentable. But I feel obliged to point him in the direction of hip-hop and rap if he's looking for musicians faithfully carrying on the tradition of cars and the open road as a metaphor for the ramblin' life.

Of course, the car-as-sex references are rarely disguised as clever innuendo by rap practitioners. But between blush-inducing lyrics , rappers have taken up the still-ignited torch abandoned by the musical forefathers who so frequently deny parentage. I'm no huge fan of this genre, and I long for a day when rock rediscovers its virility, but it's clear to me that rap and hip-hop score much higher for relevance and urgency than their "modern rock" counterpart.

Cars, roads, cruising and "pimpin' out yo ride" all remain an important part of hip-hop culture. What are cars in so many of the classic songs of Chuck Berry, the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean but revved-up, mobile, vibrating beds?

Perhaps the problem he addresses is not so much a case of cars losing their relevance to the music of the age as it is that most modern rock -- by its own professions -- is in need of relationship counseling and a Viagra prescription.

Chris Dovi

Richmond, Va.


Among the many suggested "road songs" submitted by readers to were:

"My Kingdom for a Car," Phil Ochs

"Shaky City," the Plimsouls

"Gear Jammer," George Thorogood & The Destroyers

"Mercury Blues," David Lindley

"18 Wheels," John Stewart

"Nada," the Refreshments

"I Can't Drive 55," Sammy Hagar

"Flyin' Down the Freeway," Kinky Friedman

"Water in the Fuel," Kasey Chambers

"Transfusion," Nervous Norvus

Los Angeles Times Articles