RIFF REWIND: Drive your Camaro to Whitesnake, Bon Jovi and Nazareth

Whitesnake, Camaro, Chevrolet, Chevy

Courtesy: ’70s Chevrolet advertisement. Not pictured: Whitesnake, Daniel J. Willis.

I drive a Camaro.

Some cars, like your Priuses and your Camrys, are made to get you where you need to go as efficiently and safely as possible. I don’t begrudge people for owning those. Some cars, like Lexuses and BMWs, are made to flaunt wealth and communicate status, and I begrudge people who own those slightly more.

A Camaro is not like those. A Camaro is a lifestyle.

When you get your Camaro keys, whether it’s for a classic, a mid-’90s model, or a 2010 SS like mine, you become caretaker to the legacy of the Redneck Cadillac. You’re driving every 1967 Camaro that helped define the American auto industry, every 1979 Camaro that was essentially a mullet with wheels. You have a responsibility—nay, a duty—to live the life the Camaro represents.

An important step to that end is the right soundtrack. There’s music, there’s driving music, and there’s Camaro-driving music. These five songs are prime examples of Camaro music. So pop the panels out of your T-top, hit the open road, and listen to these classics while the wind blows through your feathered hair. [Roman Gokhman note: If you’re a millennial driving an Audi or Tesla, just pretend it’s a Camaro. I understand there’s not many of you in an actual Camaro].

Bon Jovi — “You Give Love A Bad Name”

A crucial component to a proper Camaro-driving song is that it has to lend itself to you loudly and poorly sining along. You have to be able to drum along on the steering wheel at a red light. And nothing lends itself better to in-car karaoke like Bon Jovi. It’s impossible to sound good singing along to Bon Jovi unless your last name is Bon Jovi and that’s why it’s perfect. It’s the great equalizer, bringing everyone down to the same level where they can have fun without worrying about image or quality.

Not every Bon Jovi song is Camaro material, though. It also takes a certain feel, a certain tempo. The chorus needs a certain je ne sais quoi. “You Give Love A Bad Name” is a great example of Camaro music along with “Bad Medicine,” while tracks like “It’s My Life” and “Have a Nice Day” definitely aren’t. The only way to be sure is to listen while driving a Camaro. You’ll know by the first chorus.

Warrant — “Cherry Pie”

Another surefire way to identify a Camaro-appropriate song is to close your eyes and picture 1977 Farrah Fawcett washing your Camaro in slow motion while wearing a bikini top and cut-off jean shorts.

Got it? Ok, good.

Now put on the potential Camaro song. Does it work, or is it absolutely ridiculous? If they fit together perfectly, you have yourself a new song for the mixtape that’s probably going to get stuck in the tape deck you and your friend Jimmy pulled out of that totaled Buick Skylark at the old wrecking yard.

By that standard, “Cherry Pie” is the quintessential Camaro song. In fact, legend says that if you play “Cherry Pie” loud enough while using a Ouija board under the light of a full moon, the Ghost of Farrah Fawcett will wash your car by morning. Try it yourself!

Whitesnake — “Still of the Night”

Sometimes you’ll find yourself driving your Camaro at night. Whether you’re on your way to the night shift at the factory— [Gokhman note: OK, millennials, you have to pretend again. A factory was a place in the ’80s and ’90s where physical “things” were “made]”—on your way home from a late-night liaison with a lady friend, or just cruising and having yourself a good think, daytime Camaro songs may not set the right mood.

Fortunately there’s a wide array of nighttime Camaro songs available. They’re easy to spot since most have the word “night” somewhere in the title. “Rockin’ Into the Night” by .38 Special, for example.

The ultimate after-dark Camaro track, though, is Whitesnake’s “Still of the Night.” It’s appropriate for almost any situation after the sun goes down. And, as Twitter legend Karl “@DadBoner” Welzein says, “If you time a power move to 3:57 in ‘Still of The Night’ by Whitesnake, it’s like touchin’ the hand of God, and anything is possible.”

Motley Crue — “Kickstart My Heart”

One central aspect to Camaros that I’ve yet to touch on is that they go really fast. Like… so fast, you guys. There are budget models of course, with a V6 and an automatic transmission and the like, that merely go faster than the average car at the top end. The real Camaros, though, can flat-out move. Mine can push 200 MPH stock, for example. Reportedly. I’ve heard. Hypothetically.

Anyway, if you want to go fast you want to find a song with a revving engine in it. Doesn’t really matter what kind of engine, but that’s the sign of a reckless driving song. And, like a surprisingly high percentage of Motley Crue songs, “Kickstart My Heart” fits the bill.

Not that I’d know, of course. If anyone in law enforcement is reading this is all totally theoretical.

Nazareth — “Hair of the Dog”

I’m trying to avoid putting songs in columns this year that made the top five last year. So far, so good for the most part, but that rules out nearly 300 of my favorite songs. So every now and then I’ll let myself have one.

This is one of those times.

“Hair of the Dog” fits every category of Camaro song listed above. It sets the right mood day or night, it passes the Farrah Fawcett Test, and boy is it fun to drive fast to it. Probably. I wouldn’t know for sure, having never gone faster than the posted speed limit on any given road.

In fact, back in 2010 when I upgraded my 1994 Camaro to a brand new model, the first time I took it out to see what it could do this was the first song I put on. Going east on Highway 4 on a hot June day, Nazareth blaring, learning the nuances of the transmission, it was truly the good life.

Follow editor Daniel J. Willis and tweet column ideas to him at Twitter.com/BayAreaData

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