Auto Tunes

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I bought my first car in 2000 and drove that baby for twelve solid years.  I got it before satellite radio and navigational devices and MP3 player adapters were commonly pre-installed in new cars, so shortly after driving off the lot I went to a Best Buy to have an XM radio put in.  A couple of years later I went to Radio Shack for one of those Garmin GPS systems that plugs into the lighter outlet and attaches to the windshield with a suction cup.  And I was given one of those iPod adapters that played my iTunes library through a crackly radio station.  It was all very ghetto.

When I finally landed a new set of wheels this year, I was shocked (SHOCKED, I tell you!) at how much the technology had changed.  I mean, of course I knew that improvements had been made and I’d certainly been a passenger in friends’ cars that had Sirius XM and GPS built right into a fancy screen on the dashboard, but I only recently got to experience that first hand.  In my very own vehicle.  You can imagine my excitement when I lovingly plugged my iPod Classic (capacity: 40,000 songs; space available: 0) into a jack in the glove compartment, pushed a button and watched the song titles appear on that wonderful, magical dashboard screen.  What took me so long to embrace all of this high tech splendor?

I always listen to my iPod on shuffle so I can experience that bit of surprise whenever a song comes on.  (Oh, I totally forgot that I own “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” by Sophie B. Hawkins!)  Six song titles appear on my car dashboard screen at any given time, and as I scroll to select a given tune of which I own multiple versions, I try to guess which one it will be.  For example…

Is it the original Fleetwood Mac studio version from their 1975 self-title album or their live version from 1997’s The Dance?  Could it be the cover that Smashing Pumpkins took to #3 in the Modern Rock chart in 1994, or perhaps the Dixie Chicks‘ 2002 recording.  Oh, right, and then there’s jazz vocalist Stacey Kent’s acoustic version from 2007.  WRONG!  It’s the Glee performance by Santana, Brittany and guest star  Gwyneth Paltrow.  I didn’t see that one coming, but I enjoy every single twist on “Landslide,” so I really couldn’t lose.

Okay, this one’s a little more complicated.  I’m hoping for the Alphaville ballad from 1985, the one that reminds me of driving along the Mediterranean coast with four guys from college crammed into an Opel Cadet.  But there’s also the dance remix of that same song.  (Jay-Z‘s “Young Forever” — which samples Alphaville — isn’t a possibility unless my iPod has suddenly gone dyslexic.)  Could it be Bob Dylan‘s “Forever Young,” or The Pretenders’ take on that Dylan’s classic?  NONE OF THE ABOVE!  It’s the Rod Stewart‘s 1988 re-write of the Bob Dylan song, the one whose video featured Stewart riding around in the back of a pick up truck with a cute little kid who looked a lot like Jody from Family Affair.  I’m a little disappointed, but I suppose it’s my fault for owning any Rod Stewart in the first place.

Could it be Patsy Cline’s country classic? Perhaps it’s Aerosmith‘s 1993 single from Get a Grip (whose video featured Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler acting… well … crazy).  Or it could be my beloved Seal singing that line I love: “In a sky full of people only some want to fly… isn’t that crazy?”  NOPE!  It’s Alanis Morissette‘s cover of Seal’s “Crazy.”  So be it.  Alanis could sing just about anything and I’d fork over $1.29 for the digital download.

The first “Cherish” that entered my consciousness was by The Association.  They recorded the song in 1966 and I saw them perform it live at an “oldies show” in Kansas City circa 1982.  If it was an oldie then, I suppose we can consider it ancient now.  And then there’s Madonna‘s “Cherish,” the one with the black & white Herb Ritts video that showed Madge frolicking in the surf with a bunch of studly mermen.  But alas, the “Cherish” that comes over my car stereo is Kool and the Gang’s #2 hit from 1985 that became a bit of a wedding staple in the years that followed.  “Cherish the love we have, we should cherish the life we live…”

Oh, how I cherish my new car and my little game of guessing which version of “Landslide,” “Forever Young,” “Crazy,” “Cherish” and dozens of other songs is about to come out of my speakers.


Whose version of “Landslide” is your favorite?

Fleetwood Mac (the original)
Smashing Pumpkins
The Dixie Chicks
Glee (Brittany, Santana and Gwyneth)

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