sometimes, after a long day of work, i consider the advantages to chucking the 9-to-5 life into what the British call a “dustbin” and heading out to start a band that sings absurd lyrics and possibly has a fascination with horns. but then i remember that CAKE already beat me to that, and i’ve just probably been listening to their records all day. then i’m sad for a little while as my dream has just died, and then i go and tell the internet about it because, eh, i don’t have much else to discuss this week, and that’s how we wound up here.
anyway, one thing i have noticed is that these CAKE characters are singing about (or at least referring to) cars an awful lot. well, and “horrible relationships” as well, but we’ll just not worry about that 50% of their material. and given that i like to occasionally combine “random topics that don’t have anything to do with current events” and “that whole listicle thing,” well, without further ado, i bring you…
janklow’s 13 favorite CAKE songs that are about or clearly refer to cars
honorable mention: there were a couple of three songs that i was going to force onto this list when i was originally working it out, simply because they referred to cars at least once (“Dime,” off Pressure Chief, and “Bound Away”, off Showroom Of Compassion) or because they had a really, really loose connection to the concept (“Comanche,” off Motorcade Of Generosity, because of the whole “if you want to have cities, you’ve got to build roads” thing). so it goes!
this weird scream picture is probably a mirror of what you’re thinking right now going into this update
13. “Carbon Monoxide” (off Pressure Chief, 2004)
this one ranks at the bottom of our list for two reasons: one, it’s about cars and buses and trucks, i suppose, but what it’s REALLY about is an excessive amount of carbon monoxide, which has been produced by them and is killing the narrator, a sentiment that makes sense for a band from California… but makes a lot less sense for a ban that’s supposed to love cars. and two, it’s got a weird vocal rhythm that limits how much i can get into this song. but that’s my problem to deal with, i guess.
lyrics that sum up this song’s inclusion: “too much carbon monoxide for me to bear/where’s the air? … after car after bus after car after truck/after this my lungs will be so fucked up.” see, that’s just negative.
12. “Short Skirt / Long Jacket” (off Comfort Eagle, 2001)
now, this is pretty much a classic CAKE-type song, or, if you don’t like me calling their work “classic,” then “the kind of song you remember CAKE playing.” John McCrea is rhapsodizing DRAMATICALLY about some idealized woman (who, admittedly, sounds pretty excellent, what with her uninterrupted prosperity and machete and all), and in the middle of it all, we get a breakdown about her taste in cars: apparently, the car has to be able to hold a drink, travel successfully and look classy. ultimately, though, as much as i dig the song (it’s very catchy), it’s getting downgraded because it was a successful single with mild-at-best car talk.
lyrics that sum up this song’s inclusion: “she wants a car with a cupholder arm-rest/she wants a car that will get her there/she’s changing her name from Kitty to Karen/she’s trading her MG for a white Chrystler Le Baron.” so you see that i pretty much summed it up above there.
11. “The Distance” (off Fashion Nugget, 1996)
so here we go: THE big CAKE song you remember, clearly included because the song is almost entirely about a dramatic race (which appears to be mostly symbolic, despite its mention of “bowel-shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse”), with a small percentage left over for a woman for whom the narrator still has some affection (and the possible poetic description of a car as a horse). it’s a good track and all… but if you were seventeen in 1996 (and i was), then you know how played-the-fuck-out this song can sound, which plummets it all the way down to number 10. still, there’s a solid chance it’s the ONLY song by CAKE the average house of hate reader remembers.
lyrics that sum up this song’s inclusion: “reluctantly crouched at the starting line, engines pumping and thumping in time.” again, if you listening to rock in the 1990s, that opening line will be all too familiar. plus, i already mentioned the “bowel-shaking earthquakes” thing earlier.
10. “Race Car Ya-Yas” (off Fashion Nugget, 1996)
have i mentioned that i think “Fashion Nugget” is a top-notch name for a record? anyway, so this is a short one, clocking in at only 1:21, but it’s 100% about race cars, changing lanes, and whatever the hell “ya-yas” are. i still haven’t figured that one out, and the album’s 15 years old AND i have access to the powers of the internet, making my failure all the more profound. still, it’s got an unnecessarily dramatic sound that makes me want to race people… until i remember that i drive an economy car. damn.
lyrics that sum up this song’s inclusion: “the land of race car ya-yas/the land where you can’t change lanes/the land where large, fuzzy dice/still hang proudly/like testicles from rear-view mirrors.” i think that about sums the entire song up, not to mention its inclusion.
nothing like some sweet accordion music
09. “Stickshifts And Safetybelts” (off Fashion Nugget, 1996)
despite the fact that McCrea has apparently had a LOT of romantic problems (that were then turned into songs), he does seem to have some “good times with the lady in the car” moments, and that’s what happened here: his romantic problem is mainly that bucket seats keep his “baby” far away from him. and that’s what rock music is all about: describing mild inconvenience as if it’s the end of the world so that teenagers can relate.
lyrics that sum up this song’s inclusion: “well, a lot of good cars are Japanese/but when we’re driving far/i need my baby next to me.” honestly, this line is 75% delivery, so maybe it doesn’t seem as excellent as it should, but it cracks me up every time.
08. “Got To Move” (off Showroom Of Compassion, 2011)
at this point, i’ll just address the fact that i think i might have been one of the few people actually excited that a new CAKE album was coming out after seven years (this kind of excitement seems common for me, sadly) and that i think the album was “damn fine.” anyway, this is more of a stretch than some on this list as it’s more about “constant movement” than “cars,” but let me be honest: it’s one of their more relaxing songs, and i rely on it when i’m at work and fighting through a headache. and to hell with you if you don’t like it!
lyrics that sum up this song’s inclusion: “you are mostly in your car/you always seem so far/no matter where you are/you’re thinking of your car.” actually, this makes it sound like a song someone wrote ABOUT CAKE, which takes this whole topic to another level. or not, but either way, it’s weird.
07. “Long Time” (off Showroom Of Compassion, 2011)
and we’re back with another incredible stretch-to-include-this selection, as my justification for this song is the drawn-out warbling of the word “Pontiac,” which always reminds me of this ridiculous old black Pontiac my father had when i was a kid, since he never drove it and it was always full of mice. and that’s certainly a random story to tell when we’re talking about CAKE! this song is, however, very much in the ridiculous style you’d expect: horns and shouts and references to “pillbox hats” and “drinking arsenic.” see, now THAT is topical.
lyrics that sum up this song’s inclusion: “it’s been a long time/since we drove your Po-o-o-o-o-o-ontiac.” but like i implied, that’s pretty much it for car-related lyrics in the song.
06. “Long Line Of Cars” (off Comfort Eagle, 2001)
ah, now THAT is more like it: the title clearly tells us that the song is actually about a large quantity of cars, and the attitude towards California’s air pollution is much more relaxed. there remains a larger mystery in that the narrator claims the titular “long line of cars” is all because of SOMEONE (possibly you, the listener), but he never really clarifies why that is. unless he’s talking about California in a personified way, and the why is “because this state is terrible,” a ruling that i will accept.
lyrics that sum up this song’s inclusion: “there’s no single explanation/there’s no central destination.” this vague confusion pretty much sums up a lot of these songs AND my reasoning for this week’s update.
at this point and for no reason, let me just point out that this update was conceived and constructed while entirely sober
05. “Alpha Beta Parking Lot” (off Prolonging The Magic, 1998)
i know some people (and by that, i mean “no people”) were wondering when Prolonging The Magic would make an appearance, and the answer is this: it’s probably their best album, but it’s not as car-heavy as other albums are. anyway, this song isn’t even so much about “cars” as “being in a parking lot and sad about things,” but then again, there is a reference to “idling cars,” so that has to count for something. it’s also worth noting that this narrator has lady troubles, proving that the more problems McCrea has with the women, the better the songs get.
lyrics that sum up this song’s inclusion: “breathing in the fumes from so many idling cars/right beneath the sign with the dusty yellow stars/watching the sun go down.” amen, brother.
04. “Wheels” (off Pressure Chief, 2004)
to be honest, i don’t know why this song didn’t take off as a single beyond the fact that “all people are stupid.” anyway, let me level with you: there is no mention of cars in this song, just a constant discussion of constantly moving wheels. but if you can overlook that fact, then we’re cool, because i am a MUCH bigger fan of this song than i am of that whole “The Distance” thing. let’s be honest, here: Pressure Chief is the time when people kind of sort of stopped caring very much about CAKE.
lyrics that sum up this song’s inclusion: uh… uh… “wheels keep on spinning round spinning round spinning round.” that’s all i’ve got. actually, i personally prefer the whole part about “by the banks of the mighty Bosphorus/is a Japanese man in a business suit singing ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’,” but that clearly has NOTHING to do with cars.
03. “Satan Is My Motor” (off Prolonging The Magic, 1998)
the easiest song to explain a high ranking for. it has an awesome name (check), it’s all about cars, albeit in a metaphorically sense (check), it references Satan, who all the best bands are affiliated with (check), and it rocks in a general sense. but let’s address the downside: this is one of the songs i am prone to singing in the shower, a fact that assuredly freaks everyone out whether because of the accompanying mental image OR the fact that i most assuredly have no singing ability. neither of those things, however, is going to stop me.
lyrics that sum up this song’s inclusion: “my intentions are good and earnest and true/but under my hood is internal combustion power/and Satan is my motor.” hear my motor purr!
02. “Easy To Crash” (off Showroom Of Compassion, 2011)
i think i already made the point about my high opinion of the newest record, so let me just say that at least this song IS about cars, be they “busy” and “little” or “luxury.” on the other hand, it seems to be largely about how easy it is to crash those cars, and people being generally oblivious to the crashes (or the conditions that make it easy to crash, one of those), so it might be a little more negative than a song about how Satan is the only one that seems to understand.
lyrics that sum up this song’s inclusion: “clouds hung hugely and oppressively/over our busy little cars
clouds hung hugely and oppressively/we didn’t notice/we didn’t care.” you know, with a line like “we didn’t care,” it might not be JUST obliviousness.
i find this album cover especially excellent in light of the fact that i like to take photos posed “like we’re shaking hands on a serious agreement”
01. “Take It All Away” (off Pressure Chief, 2004)
yeah, yeah, this one is actually about McCrea’s lady-sadness… but it does feature an extended car crash metaphor, references to a lady’s “economy car” and the use of the phrase “rubbernecker’s dream,” so i think it’s earned its spot on this list. and frankly, if you don’t like it, i don’t know how you made it this far into my list, since i don’t recall many jokes happening this week. go ahead, take your economy car and your suitcase and your psycho little dogs and get the fuck off my website!
lyrics that sum up this song’s inclusion: “you’ve been racing through my mind/you’re picking up in speed/you’re driving recklessly/it’s like a car crash happening on my street/broken bodies at my feet/and sirens on the way.” told you that metaphor was extended!
… maybe there is a new gun?
why, yes, internet, there is! again! as the Irishman says, “every time i see you, i assume you’ve bought a new gun.” in fact, it might even be time for…
guns that let us pretend we’re in exciting television shows redux
you may remember that i declared that the purchase of my S&W 4586 would allow me and J.Miles to play the Shield once i tracked down a Stoeger Cougar; as it turned out, i went even more official with the original Beretta Cougar. the fact that ladies love the ‘stache remains unchanged.
anyway, i guess it really DOES take the whole “current events” thing to get some jokes going, so i’ll try and do that next week. sorry about all this CAKE stuff.