Here's a slightly different twist -- this shuffle is not from my full music library, but my huge Vacation playlist, designed to provide road tunes for the July 4th exodus. Pop it in the car's music player and enjoy!
1. Call Me The Breeze / Alan Price and Rob Hoeke
From Two of a Kind (1977)
Sorry to start out with an obscure one -- even I wouldn't own this album if it hadn't been for my lifelong Alan Price fandom. Here he pairs with Dutch keyboardist Rob Hoeke (AP has this thing for collaborations with fellow keyboardists, from Georgie Fame to Zoot Money) to make a swinging little album that's actually a ton of fun. Really, it should be better known. This J.J. Cale cover is considerably peppier than J.J.'s laidback version; it really lets out the clutch and takes off.
2. Tighten Up Pt. 1 / Archie Bell and the Drells
From Tighten Up (1968)
"Hi everybody, this is Archie Bell and the Drells, of Houston, Texas. We don't only sing, but we dance just as good as we walk!" Poor Archie Bell was already serving in Vietnam when the record he'd cut just before being drafted hit the charts. It was all over the airwaves that summer, agitating dancing bodies everywhere, a marvelous melange of irresistible riffs cycling from instrument to instrument. ("Tighten up on that bass, now....Now look here, we're gonna make it mellow now!") A long cool drink of pure summer fun(k).
3. Helen Wheels / Wings
From Band on the Run (1973)
Hang on tight! Paul McCartney -- determined to prove that he could rock out without the Beatles -- tore into this road song with no brakes whatsoever. The internal combustion of those twin descending guitar riffs, the pavement-pounding drums, the thrumming bass line -- hell on wheels indeed!
4. If I Had $1,000,000 / Barenaked Ladies
From Gordon (1992)
Barenaked Ladies are right up there with Commander Cody, They Might Be Giants, and Flight of the Concords in my pantheon of comic rockers. I love the call and response on this ambling country rocker, as the singer earnestly offers his riches to his true love -- but as for what he'd buy her with his lottery winnings...
5. Rango Theme Song / Los Lobos
From Rango Soundtrack (2011)
Fandango gave me this song for free after I went to see this animated movie last winter. (Okay, so I'll see anything with Johnny Depp in it -- wanna make something of it?) But it soon earned a permanent spot in the rotation, a campy take on the classic western theme song, mariachi horns and all.
6. She Loves the Sunset / Old 97s
From Blame it On Gravity (2008)
Throw in a cha-cha beat and some pedal steel twang and what do you have? This winner by the delightful Old 97s.
7. Shiftless When Idle / The Replacements
From Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out the Trash! (1981)
Well, this one sure puts the garage in garage rock. Nobody else has ever stuffed this many car puns into one song, with the possible exception of Little Village's "She Runs Hot." It only lasts 2:18, but that grinding gear-shift guitar, the relentless bashing drums, and Paul Westerberg's slightly strangled vocals defiantly break the speed limit, cruising with the top down, tossing beer cans out the back as they roar into the night.
8. Young Americans / David Bowie
From Young Americans (1975)
Bowie put on his soul shoes, hauled in a gospel choir and a hot sax (David Sanborn!), and lit up the discos in the summer of '75 with this hectic take on American culture. ("Blacks got respect and whites got Soul Train...") Bowie himself described it as "plastic soul . . . the squashed remains of ethnic music as it survives in the age of Muzak rock, written and sung by a white limey." Yep, that pretty much nails it.
9. Gone, Gone, Gone / Colin Farrell
From Crazy Heart: The Soundtrack (2010)
Who knew Colin Farrell could sing country? As if Jeff Bridges' mesmerizing performance in this film wasn't enough, and all those superb Ryan Bingham-T. Bone Burnett songs too. This song nails the dieselbilly sound perfectly -- "I was born on a flattop two-lane, / Picked up a guitar, and every day I'd sing / Till I was gone, gone, gone..." You just gotta drive to this one.
10. One More Day / Bill Kirchen
From Hammer of the Honkytonk Gods (2007)
Well, speaking of dieselbilly -- here's the king himself, pickin' and grinnin' with a fiddle and roadhouse piano. "Well I reckon we all gotta pay the diagnosis / So I'm turning my two weeks notice / Then I 'scuse myself while I kiss the sky . . . I'm gonna live it up like there's no tomorrow / Crank up the love, turn down the sorrow, / Get my ducks in a row for one more day!" Hey, a little shot of carpe diem philosophy is just what you need when you're heading out the door for vacation!