‘Tis better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all. A well-worn cliche’, although not necessarily one that everyone will agree with. How many folks have started a relationship with so much hope and promise, only to have their heart torn out, thrown on the ground, and driven over multiple times by a malaise-era Ford Country Squire?
Cars have served as the backdrop for the trajectory of human relationships more often than anyone can count. How many pairings have been consummated in the front or back seat of mom or dad’s car, only to bitterly end months, years, or even decades later with a barrage of hurt, angry words and the sound of tires screeching out of a driveway or parking lot one last time? Or the dissatisfied / bored / unfaithful partner grabbing the spare keys and stealthily vanishing into the night, never too be seen or heard from again ( except maybe through their attorney ) ? Any way you slice it, it sucks.
The songs and their accompanying videos below pay tribute to anyone and everyone who’s ever had their heart and soul mercilessly dragged behind an International Loadstar manure truck by this many-splendored thing called love.
I chose to post this song and video first because, as an impressionable and car-obsessed adolescent male, this is the one that cemented my love affair with that uniquely American vehicle, the full size convertible. It’s the single “So In Love”from the British pop band OMD ( short for Orchestral Manouveres In The Dark ) . In the video, a young man makes a lengthy road trip in his gleaming white 1957 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, trying to escape the specter of his ( presumably ) deceased girlfriend. Yet she’s always there, no matter where he goes. At the end she accidentally appears to the wrong person, causing an old Datsun or Peugeot ( or maybe Rover? ) sedan to wreck out and Cadillac dude stops to help.
Another poignant number is this one- “Sara”by Jefferson Starship, formerly known as Jefferson Airplane, later to known as simply Starship. Hell- I never could keep them straight. In the video, the song’s protagonist shares his old family farmhouse with a gorgeous blonde whose behavior becomes increasingly more erratic and destructive as the relationship wears on. After one final nasty spat, blondie, suitcase in hand, goes tearing off across the desolate plain in her Fox-body ragtop Mustang, never to return. I wonder if she sprung for the 5.0 / 5-speed option. Hmmm. The video is also interspersed with shots of his ancestors posing in front of their Depression-era Ford sedan ( what else would a hardworking, partriotic working-class family drive? ) .
As someone who has witnessed several relationships / marriages among close friends and even my own extended family implode due to infidelity, substance abuse, mental illness, or a combination of all three, this video has always struck a chord with me personally. Bit of trivia: the hot blonde is famous actress Rebecca DeMornay, who is also the estranged daughter of controversial talk show host and conservative mouthpiece the late Wally George.
Jumping forward to the 1990s, British singer and DJ Moby appears to have given up on everything, pining over a woman who has wronged him one too many times in the single “Porcelain”.In the video he’s shown riding in the back seat of a driverless 1971 Cadillac Sedan De Ville. This video is chock full of CCs, including an old flat-nosed Kenworth W900 water truck that nearly t-bones the Caddy, and a ’92 Honda Civic carrying a stunned family that nearly hits the Cad head-on as it wanders down the road. At the end of the video, Moby is smiling as the Caddy gently rolls down the steep side of a mountain, carrying both of them into oblivion. I sincerely hope they didn’t use a “good” ’71 DeVille for that last shot.
Spandau Ballet’s single “I’ll Fly For You” reflects the downfall of many a man throughout history- falling hopelessly in love with a beautiful but deeply troubled woman. In the video, the group’s lead singer finds the absence of his lady love so unbearable, he turns himself into a wanted criminal by helping her escape the authorities. He busts her out of the box Panther police sedan she’s being carted around in, and along with their accomplices, whisks them both away in a waiting Toyota Land Cruiser ( the REAL Land Cruiser, not the hoity-toity luxobarge that came later ) . Days later, realizing their days as a free couple are numbered, the guy impulsively makes the decision to ensure their freedom forever by steering their stolen Chrysler K-platform convertible head-on into an old Chevy medium duty water truck. I don’t know about y’all, but if a pair of Bonnie-And-Clyde wannabes used one of my vehicles to kamikaze themselves, I’d be mighty pissed off. After allowing a suitable mourning period, their estate ( if they have one ) would definitely be hearing from my attorney.
Richard Marx’s “Angelia” is a powerful ballad about a love affair shattered by tragedy caused by poor decision-making. Richard’s love, a mysterious young woman named Angelia, meets her end by getting thoroughly sloshed before climbing behind the wheel of her bathtub-bodied Nash, later smashing it into a ’69 or ’70 Cadillac deVille or Fleetwood. To me, the shattered crystal whisky decanter prior to the crash scene denotes that the unfortunate deceased girl was probably toasted, causing her fatal wreck, giving this video a subtle anti drunk driving message, even if that wasn’t necessarily Mr. Marx’s intention.
Sad to say, this is something else I have personal experience with, minus the alcohol part. There was a former female co-worker that I had become very flirty with just prior to leaving that place and starting my new job. I told her that I was coming back to formally ask her out once I got settled at my new place of employment, and she looked forward to it. Sadly, it never happened. When I returned to my old workplace to see her just a week later, there was no sign of her. In the new car showroom where she worked as the receptionist, there was a large picture of her mounted on an easel near the door, surrounded by flowers, teddy bears, cards, and hand-written notes. With a sick feeling in my stomach and a growing sense of dread, I asked one of the other ladies what happened to her, and she tearfully filled me in on what happened just a few days before. She wasn’t drunk, but the combination of a big and powerful SUV, no seat belt, high speed, and an ill-timed merge into the path of an even faster-moving semi removed her from this planet forever. I did a lot of drinking and cursing at God that first week. That was over ten years ago and it still bothers me to this day. I think about her quite often, and often wonder what could have developed between us if only she wasn’t going so fast, if only she had been wearing her seat belt, if only she had been paying more attention when switching lanes. If only. Two little words with an enormous and powerful meaning. I miss you, Stacey.
In the video for Dennis DeYoung’s ( the former lead singer of Styx ) single “Desert Moon”, the general theme is what happens when true love is cast aside for the sake of adventure or ambition. DeYoung plays a traveling musician who, after a long absence, returns to his old hometown. Crusing around town in his buddy’s Reagan-era Dodge Ramcharger, or his own ’65 / ’66 Mustang convertible, they share bittersweet memories including that of the girl that Dennis left behind during his days on the road, and never kept in touch with. Prior to departing once again, Dennis gifts his kid brother with his prized Mustang, saying that he doesn’t need it anymore. He also vows to track down his old flame. The video ends showing the now empty, vacant, boarded up, soon-to-be bulldozed Desert Moon nightclub where he and his true love first met so long ago. Did Dennis ever reunite with the love of his life? Did his kid brother ever restore the Mustang? No one knows.
There’s two more that I’ll mention, but not post the actual videos because the car shots aren’t long enough to really warrant posting the whole video. In George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”, a number where George laments the love he threw away in a moment of indiscretion and drunkenness, there’s a slow motion shot of a late first-gen Mazda RX7 GSL-SE that George’s secret second walks seductively past the first time they lay eyes on each other. In Sade’s “Smooth Operator”, there’s an old Peugeot 504 sedan burning itself to the ground right outside the luxury apartment where Sade’s shady, dirtbag older boyfriend welcomes his “side chick” inside just minutes after Sade herself leaves. Sade finds out when a detective shows her the hidden camera video.
That’s all I can think of for now. If you can think of any other music vids that combine heartbreak with cool vintage rides, feel free to contribute!