Friday, February 20, 2015

Sub/Urban & Transportation Related Songs

I love the song Shop Vac is song by Jonathan Coulton because it starts with "We took the freeway out of town" and laments about the need for a left turn signal to get to a Starbucks. Any song that can incorporate a traffic signal reference is okay with me.

An old school tune that's more urban is Stevie Wonder's Living for the City. Stevie Wonder is one of the most amazing artists.

Obviously, if you're talking suburban songs, you have to hand it to Rockin the Suburbs by Ben Folds. You know it's a parity when Weird Al Yankovic makes an appearance in the video. Ben Folds touches on racial tension and equity with a mention of "white boy pain" and about his grandparents and slavery, which is followed by a line of "y'all don't know what it's like, being male, middle class, and white". Of course, the guitar rifs are pretty fantastic. The fact that they mention pulling up to the stop light is pretty awesome.

Another couple of funny songs that came out that parody new urban places are Whole Foods Parking Lot and the Arlington: The Rap. These aren't great songs, but make me laugh because they seem inspired by places that people can relate to.

The Talking Heads is a band that must have been urban planners in another life. Road to Nowhere is a great song with the lyrics: "There's a City in my mind, C'mon and take that ride  and it's alright, baby it's alright. And it's very far away, but it's growing day by day".

While we are on the Talking Heads, it would be a share if I didn't mention Once in a Lifetime, with the lyrics "You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile..."  might have been the first time I thought about traffic and transportation with a cool soundtrack. My other favorite lyric is "You may ask yourself, what is that beautiful house, you may ask yourself, where does that highway go to, you may ask yourself, am I right, am I wrong, you may say to yourself, My God, what have I done?"

The band Arcade Fire sang The Suburbs and the video is not a happy story, but you have to like a song when the lyrics start with:
"In the suburbs I, I learned to drive, And you told me we'd never survive, Grab your mother's keys we're leaving"

It wouldn't be a song list from me, if I didn't include one of my favorite artists, Randy Newman. The song Baltimore laments the challenges of a City and is less about transportation, but certainly put next to Stevie Wonder's Living in the City, you can recall a bit about what cities were like in the 1970s.

Of course, you have to make the connection between Land Use and Transportation, so you have to highlight some walking, biking and car songs.

I Can't Drive 55 is a classic, but as a multimodal guy, I prefer Walk of Life and the sports bloopers and celebrations that are one of the reasons I enjoy sports.

Way before they were viable, They Might Be Giants were singing about the joys of an Electric Car.

Let's not forget about our friends that are Truckin'

Bicycle Race is the best biking song in the history of music. I had no idea the video was nude women actually racing bicycles. This is >PG-13.

Handlebars by the Flobots has a great chorus of: "I can ride my bike with no Handlebars, no Handlebars" and finally, the Red Hot Chili Peppers Bicycle Song  where they say: "how could I forget to mention, the bicycle is a good invention".

And one more bike song I have heard on the KBOO Bike Show is from Mark Ronson called The Bike Song. "gonna ride my bike until I get home".

Lastly, is one more parody about transit titled the Metro Song.


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