This week, our Summer Tune Up playlist is composed of songs about cars themselves. With motor vehicles being such a pervasive part of modern culture, cars have played a passionate role in pop and rock music for decades. Here’s a list our favourites (including our first selection, which comes courtesy of contributor Peter Bleakney); if there’s a car-centric song you like cruising to, share it with us in the comments section!

Highway Star – Deep Purple (contributed by Peter Bleakney)

One of the first albums i bought as a kid was Deep Purple, Made in Japan. This live double album (remember those?) has a burning version of Highway Star that I find great for snapping you out of a lull during a long drive. This high-test rocker is about a man’s love for his high performance machine will having you involuntarily planting the go pedal if you’re behind the wheel. So be forewarned. When Ian Gillan  sings, “I love it! I need it! I feel it! Yeah it’s a wild hurricane. All right, hold tight, I’m a Highway Star!” you just know he’s a goner. Richie Blackmore’s guitar solo in this song was ranked #19 in the List of 100 Greatest Guitar Solos by Guitar World magazine. And of course Ian Pace whips up a ferocious groove on the drums. Buy: iTunes |

I’m In Love With My Car – Queen

To the casual fan, Queen is essentially synonymous with singer and main songwriter, Freddie Mercury. The reality, though, is that all four members of the band contributed songs to its extensive catalogue; guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor sing lead vocals on a number of songs, too. This is one of Taylor’s contributions, and it’s one of my favourite Queen songs not sung by Mercury. The lyrics are a bit cheesy (the story goes that Brian May thought Taylor’s original demo was a joke), but the line in the bridge that goes, “Told my girl I’d have to forget her/Rather buy me a new carburettor” is pure car-guy gold. Buy: iTunes |

Long Haul Driver – Luke Doucet

Written from the point of view of a truck driver, this song captures the solitude that defines a work life spent on the road. A telling line is the one describing an early-morning departure, hours before an airplane brings his wife or girlfriend home from her own travels. I’m also fond of the line, “When I pass into Canada, I may stop for a smoke/Yes I know these things will kill me but my dear, so might the road.” In typical Luke Doucet style, the lyrics are dead simple, but tell a great story, and then, there’s the man’s guitar work, backed by talent that belies his relatively youth. This song is a highlight of Doucet’s excellent live show. Buy: iTunes |

Black Cars – Gino Vanelli

This song makes the list mostly because I like it a lot, but also as a nod to my father-in-law and his four-wheeled baby, a black 1994 BMW 525i: when the conversation turns to that car, this song inevitably comes up. The song is more of a metaphor for an aging woman trying too hard to hold on to her fading good looks, but it’s easy enough to spin it around onto an old car whose body’s best days are far behind it. Released in 1985, the production is a good example of that decade’s pop music sounds, loaded with cool synth parts. Buy: iTunes |

Sleeping in my Car – Roxette

From songs about the love of machines and driving them, here’s a power-pop song about getting one’s kicks in the car, instead of from it. This tune sounds like garage rock compared to the polished pop this Swedish duo made its name with in the early 1990s. This was one of the last songs written and recorded for 1994’s Crash!Boom!Bang! record, and was conceived out of songwriter Per Gessle’s assertion that the album sounded too “grown-up.” As such, it was arranged and recorded quickly, which explains the song’s relatively loose sound. Guitar geeks: see if you can guess what kind of guitar was used to record the simple riff that starts the song off. Buy: iTunes |

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