20. Old Cars

Posted on 26/01/2017

Johnny Cash sings a wonderful song called ‘One piece at a time’ about old cars. It concerns his time working in Detroit on assembly lines. He’d always wanted a car that was long and black, but could not afford it.

So he ‘devised himself a plan that should be the envy of most any man’ This involved stealing bits of car each day and putting it in his lunchbox or in his friend’s ‘mobile home’.

The comedy element comes on strongly when they assembled their ill gotten gains:

‘the transmission was a ’53/and the motor turned out to be a ’73

and when we tried to put in the bolt al of the holes were gone

so we drilled out so that it would fit/and with a bit of help from an adaptor kit

we had that engine running just like a song/now the headlight was another sight

we had two on the left and one on the right/but when we pulled out the switch all 3 of them come on

the back end looked kind of funny too/but when we got thru/well, thats when we noticed we only had one tail fin

The song ends with a discussion between Cash and another driver of when he answers another driver’s question by saying yes, this is Cotton Mouth in the Psychobilly Cadillac, well its a

’49.’50,’51,’52,’53,’54,’55,’56,’57,’58,’59 automobile;

its a ’60,’61,’62,’63.’64,’65,’66,’67,’68,’69,’70 automobile

This brilliant epic was written by one Wayne Kemp, who deserves a degree of immortality for the idea.

Another song about cars is a venerable 1930’s one called ‘Hot Rod Car‘ by Wolftones 9nb I am not sure about this: it does not fit with whats on Itunes under that title).

This song is about Ford cars and starts with the hero sets off while the tyres are worn and the gas is low but he meets another Ford and they set out on a midnight race. We cut paths through town about 40 feet wide, and we kept riding side by side. Across deserts we did glide, still exactly side by side. Then there is a dreadful moment when they hear a great noise, seemed like an airplane by the noise it made. When it passed I couldnt look and the guy in the Mercury couldnt look either, cause it was a kid in a hopped up Model A.

Model A was produced between 1928 and 1932 and was the immediate successor to the famous Model T Ford. The song was recorded in 1936 so any Model A was by that time quite antique. But in this case obviously quite souped up.

Both songs are sung in a laconic virile American accent and reflect the early days of loving cars for their own sake. Both songs deify cars in somewhat oblique ways.








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