Cars, ugh. Here in Los Angeles I feel especially lucky that I don’t have to drive all that much. That said every once and while the mobile rings with someone who wants me to do a job clear on the other side of town. Dread dread dread that. One job in particular had an especially nasty commute. If it was on a day like say in The World Without Us it would take 20 minutes. But in reality getting there was an hour and half nightmare (both ways) and no amount of trashy audiobooks in the world could stave off the boredom and frustration. But since they were paying me hand over fist, I sucked it up and did my best not to pull a stinger missile on every driver texting and weaving in the vicinity of my car.
There was however one bit of silver lining that I would see on the way home almost everyday and almost always at the same spot. On that route home there’s a particularly nasty bottleneck where 3 freeways converge (for my LA friends, the 101, 110 and the 10) and people lose their collective fucking minds trying merge. But at that same spot I would always see, driving a Samurai Suzuki, a somewhat younger Buddhist monk complete with a shaved head and orange robes. Despite being at the ground zero of road rage he’d be calm as a cow, only occasionally rapping his fingers on the steering wheel, blissfully oblivious to the commuting cacaphony outside. And whenever I’d see him, besides filling me with an overwhelming sense of calm, I’d often wonder; a) How does he do it? THAT traffic at THAT intersection is enough to test anyone’s inner Michael Douglas a la Falling Down. Please Master, teach me Zen and the art of commuting. And b) What’s he listening too? After seeing him several times I became convinced it was Cars by Gary Numan, gently humming to himself a repeated mantra of ‘Here in my car. I feel safest of all.’
So that rather lengthy bit leads us into today’s cover, the above mentioned Cars. I’ve handpicked some cherrys and dumped the junkers (namely the perplexing amount of nu-metal covers). Jump starting with my favorites, we got a great acoustic mandolin and violin version from The Leisure Society. Cookin’ On 3 Burners return with a great funk version while The C-Nuts and Jim Collins shift into jazzier territory. The aptly named Opium Jukebox take the short cut to Calcutta with their doped out Sitar rendition and getting even spacier is a deconstructed ambient cut from Terre Theamlitz. Next up we got 3 hip-hop cuts from the likes of Randi Rann, a rare unreleased cover from the late J Dilla, and an electro version from the Fearless Four. And speaking of electro, we also got one from the Dale Earnhardt of nu school electro/techno Dave Clarke and fans of MIA, Santogold etc. might dig the tropical booty-shaking version from Flore (ft. Shunda K). Not forgetting those on the indie circuit there’s the lovely Shampoo, the Toadies, TV Buddhas, the Judybats and Katzenjammers who like to drive under the influence of steel drums. Downshifting into the garage we got two from student drivers Bring Back Dad and Charles Brown Superstar. And lastly in paying homage to the grandaddy of synth-pop Nine Inch Nails drag the original driving instructor, Gary Numan, onstage for a series of live versions.
Nine Inch Nails feat. Gary Numan – Cars (Live 2009 Los Angeles Henry Fonda Theater)
Nine Inch Nails feat. Gary Numan – Cars (Live 2009 Los Angeles Hollywood Palladium)
Nine Inch Nails feat. Gary Numan – Cars (Live)
Nine Inch Nails feat. Gary Numan – Cars (London O2 Arena 2009)