Have you heard this story of the Hot Rod Race
When Fords and Lincolns was settin’ the pace.
That story is true,
I’m here to say
I was drivin’ that Model A.
Jim warned us that it might be difficult to find a song that went with this Song Lyric Sunday theme of mechanical stuff, but he agreed that a car would work. “Hot Rod Lincoln” doesn’t simply mention a car, but it very specifically discusses the various aspects of this hot rod. I like that the song ends with a moral, of sorts, in that the speeder is caught by the cops and held accountable for his reckless driving. Often, street races end in crashes and/or deaths, so it’s not really something to glamorize ~ but I still like this song!
Pulled out of San Pedro late one night
The moon and the stars was shinin’ bright.
We was drivin’ up
Passing cars like they was standing still.
HRL is actually an old oldie, written by Charlie Ryan and first released in 1955. It’s a “talky” song rather than a “singy” song, sort of like rap maybe? IDK. But you can understand the words. It describes an illegal street race up the 5 Freeway in California out of San Pedro, over the Grapevine, and beyond, which may have been feasible back then, but it isn’t with today’s freeway traffic, even in the middle of the night. Not that I ever tried it! Supposedly, Ryan based the song on his own souped-up Lincoln, which he raced in Idaho, but he changed the song’s setting to California to make it more dramatic.
Wound it up to a hundred-and-ten
My speedometer said that I hit top end.
My foot was blue, like lead to the floor.
That’s all there is and there ain’t no more.
This is my favorite type of song, where it actually tells a story from start to finish. The tempo escalates as the race goes on, pulling the listener in emotionally. What’s going to happen next?!
Smoke was comin’ from out of the back
When I started to gain on that Cadillac.
Knew I could catch him, I thought I could pass.
Don’t you know by then we’d be low on gas?
Ryan did OK with the song on the country charts, but Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen did a lot better with their cover in 1972, when it reached No. 9 on Billboard Hot 100. I think it was a one-hit wonder though ~ anyone heard of any other Commander Cody songs? Love the name of the band!
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