Watching the Wheels: a music soundtrack for hyperdrivers

By Niki D’Andrea

Normally, my Monday blog is devoted to “Niki’s Weekend Word,” but this past weekend was a bust for me – not because there was nothing going on, but because 1) I felt ill, and 2) It takes $65 to fill my gas tank and less than three days for me to go through it when I’m driving to clubs all over the Valley.

The latter challenge has led me to become one of those “hypermilers,” people who try to save on gas by doing simple things like not accelerating like a drag racer when red lights turn green (like those idiots who put spoilers on their 80s-model Hondas and suddenly think they’re Tony Stewart) and not doing 75 mph in a 55 mph zone on the freeway.

Boy, does this piss people off. People often do “the angry pass” around me -- you know, where the person rides your ass for two miles , then swiftly tears into the next lane, loudly accelerates, and swerves in front of you, like they’re so infuriated that you dared to do the speed limit when they’re clearly in a huge hurry to get to the next red light.

I wouldn’t be surprised if, by the end of the summer, road rage cases in Phoenix escalate because of hyperdrivers and the hyperassholes who’d rather take the time to stop and hurt someone whose driving habits pissed them off, rather than just go on their angst-ridden way. People need to learn to relax behind the wheel here, but it’s hard because it’s so damn hot and people are used to flying along on the freeways as if gas didn’t cost upwards of four bucks a gallon.

But as I discovered this weekend, there is a soundtrack for hyperdrivers that can help relax their minds and lighten their lead feet. And perhaps angry, hurried drivers should consider swapping out their drive-time jams of Sammy Hagar’s “I Can’t Drive 55” and Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” for a playlist that more properly lends itself to a leisurely pace.

Here (in no particular order) are my top 6 “Hyperdriving Tunes”:

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Frankie Goes to Hollywood: “Relax” Relax, don’t do it, when you wanna go to it. Or when you wanna come. Whether coming or going, just relax (despite the song’s springy dance beat).

Otis Redding: “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” The rhythm and message of the song is so chill, I can’t imagine anybody even subconsciously stomping on the gas pedal. I mean, the song has a whistling solo, for pete’s sake!

The Eagles: “Take It Easy” In one of the verses, there was a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, who slowed down to take a look at Glenn Frey. Even if Frey isn’t there to look at, slowing down isn’t such a bad idea. The song title says it all.

Foghat: “Slow Ride” Slow ride. Take it easy. After all, we’ve got like, three dual-guitar solos to get through on this one.

Cyndi Lauper or Roy Orbison: “I Drove All Night” It doesn’t matter whose version of the song goes on the hyperdrive playlist – the message is what we need here: hey, I drove all night (because I can’t drive faster than 55 mph) and crept in your room to have sex with you (because I couldn’t loudly tear into your driveway and come to a dramatic, screeching halt), and I hope that’s all right.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono: “Watching the Wheels” Yoko’s not screeching, er, singing, on this song, so no need to worry about that feeling of panic that sets in when one feels like a herd of syphilitic, rabid roosters is chasing them. Like Lennon, we could all take some joy in just jumping off the merry-go-round and watching everybody else keep spinning (and spending gas money).

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