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A look back at songs inspired by Chevrolet
Few car brands, if any, have had as much success wooing American drivers as Chevrolet. Last Thursday, the quintessentially patriotic nameplate officially turned 100 years old, though it shows no signs of slowing down in its old age.
Like every carmaker whose age is in the triple digits, Chevy has had its successes and failures, from its heyday in the 60s and 70s as a sales leader, to the bankruptcy proceedings of its parent company GM back in 2008.
The fanbase around Chevy is arguably larger than any other brand, though Ford owners may disagree. The mark has become part of the American tradition, as it has regularly been referenced in landmark songs by the biggest artists in music history.
One of the most famous tracks to shout out the brand is also one of the greatest pop songs ever written. No one can top the Don McLean epic “American Pie,” which was released at the height of the muscle car era in 1971. Clocking in at almost nine minutes, the song’s rousing chorus, a chant nearly as prolific as the national anthem, includes the phrase “drove my Chevy to the levy, but the levy was dry.”
Though the lyrics to the song are ambiguous, it’s meaning is a reference to “the day the music died.” McLean says that this was a feeling he had as a paperboy in 1959 when he read the news that the plain carrying Buddy Holly and a host of other musicians had crashed. As the casualties of the doomed flight were considered American icons, the reference to Chevrolet in the song harkens to the brand’s status as a national symbol in its own right.
The Chevy fandom permeates other genres besides classic pop. The Beastie boys, whose blend of rap and rock make their music hard to define, reference the nameplate in their hit 1992 single “So What Cha Want.” The trio defend their ride with the lyric “You scream and you holler about my Chevy Impala,” calling out haters who don’t appreciate a classic set of wheels.
Even in the 80s, when the American auto industry was taking a beating from the gas crisis and new emissions standards, popular artists at the time still showed their appreciation for a classic hot rod. In Motley Crue’s 1989 hit “Dr. Feelgood,” Vince Neil, the hair-metal bands on-again off-again frontman sings about a 65 Chevy with primered flames.
Many artists have referenced riding in the backseats of Chevy’s in the lyrics of their hits, including Alan Jackson in his 1993 track “Chattahoochie,” where he sings about “sweating it up” with a girl who “wasn’t ready.” Bob Seger took advantage of his 60 Chevy’s backseat in his hit song “Night Moves” with different results than Jackson.
Even current artists are devoting entire choruses to the brand. Rap mogul Rick Ross released his song “Chevy Riding High” in 2006. The songs chorus, which may not be as lyrically metaphorically as “American Pie,” is literally that phrase repeated eight times.
There are numerous other songs that show love for the Chevrolet label, and it seems that the hits just keep on coming. List your top Chevy inspired tracks below.
About PaulDavenportPaul Davenport is a journalist and car buff native to New England who has a lifetime of experience working on and admiring classic, and a few non-classic, American cars. Having studied journalism in college, Paul currently blogs and writes stories for a variety of companies and websites. In the past, his car stable has included a 1969 Z28 Camaro that he rebuilt with his father and a 1987 El Camino with a retooled 305 CID Engine. View all posts by PaulDavenport →
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