Marconi, Tesla, Steve Jobs and some other folks we rarely mention should be elevated to hero status for creating the means and devices we turn to while spending hours in traffic.
Groups that geek out on such stats suggest at least ten percent of Americans spend about 90 minutes a day behind the wheel on the way to and from work. That time can explode exponentially in a city full of inattentive drivers and nonchalant road crews.
Thankfully, we have music to ease the pain of bottlenecks and unexpected detours. More often than not, it does its job and whisks us off to a better time and place than parked in the shadow of an F150, pondering its dangling set of "truck nuts."
But occasionally a song will actually aggravate matters. If "matters" are already bordering on a Michael Douglas-Falling Down-bazooka attack on gridlock, the following songs should quickly be skipped in favor of sports talk or a podcast.
5. Fiona Apple, "Fast As You Can" This is a fantastic song by a brilliant artist who seemingly has never driven anywhere, ever. I have no supporting evidence to suggest Fiona Apple doesn't possess a driver's license, but she's a Manhattanite who had her first hit song as a teenager and is hardly tall enough to peer over the steering wheel, so just call it an educated guess.
"Fast As You Can" is another of Apple's frequent reminders to would-be, present or departing lovers that she's either extremely high-maintenance or possibly altogether unhinged. It's also a blistering-speed attack your neurons won't appreciate while staring at the back of someone's noggin 15 feet ahead of you for 30 minutes to an hour.
4. Traffic, "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" Like a wrecker pulling a stalled Chevy Cavalier from the center lane, let's just get this one out of the way. The band's called Traffic. If the word "Traffic" rolls into view on shuffle, the irony is soooo not lost upon you (this also applies to Hendrix's "Crosstown Traffic," Jack Johnson's "Traffic In The Sky," and others).
If any song by Traffic surfaces while you're waiting for the lanes to open, you're going to want to go Death Race 2000 on anyone in a surrounding vehicle. If you're only able to move two car lengths in the time it takes Steve Winwood to finish this nearly 12-minute song, there may be no survivors.
3. Sammy Hagar, "I Can't Drive 55" No, you cannot. And you damn sure don't need Sammy Hagar reminding you every minute or two.
2. Ludacris, "Move Bitch" True, this song is so over-the-top violent -- with lines about busting "muthafuckin' foreheads" and running people "the fuck over" -- it's comical. "Move Bitch" is the audio equivalent to Daffy Duck getting a face full of buckshot, only to have his bill swung 'round to the back of his still-breathing, wise-cracking head.
Kids are doing ukulele covers of "Move Bitch" on YouTube. There's probably a Richard Cheese cover lurking out there somewhere.
Nevertheless, as is often the case with rap, it's all about delivery. We know Luda to be an actor, but the snarl in this song feels so real its Oscar-worthy. He's convincingly violent and angry, which is how you feel when your tires don't make a full 360 over several minutes.
Given the worst traffic jam and best car audio system, this song can escalate into murderous road rage or, at the least, a ticket for disturbin' tha peace.
1. Oleta Adams, "Get Here" Traffic is a sad fact of modern life. Grown folks and experienced drivers accept this. The thing that makes it torture is the realization that every moment you're in traffic is a moment you aren't somewhere else. Almost always somewhere better. Like, maybe, in the arms of your lovely lady friend who has a stunning voice, like Oleta Adams'.
Even if you're only trying to get home in time to catch Dancing With the Stars, you do not want to be in a vehicular standstill when "Get Here" turns up on your easy-listening radio station. Any programmer spinning this 1990 tune during rush hour is a sadistic evildoer, plain and simple.
Over the course of a few minutes, you're reminded (lectured???) that pretty much any other mode of transportation -- including railway, trailway, jacking a horse and swinging rope to rope, Tarzan-style -- is better than your current choice.
Making things worse, the whole song is about the "hills and mountains between us" (fender-benders, HOV-lane crackdowns, tanker spills requiring methodical and slow-moving HAZMAT teams) and how, if you had only planned ahead, you'd be home already.
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And the repetitious "get here, get here if you can" refrain sounds a lot less like romance and much more like shrewish nagging with every second you aren't moving.