Driving

Music and driving are intrinsically linked these days, every media image that we see of a vehicle is coupled with music intended to convey a lifestyle that we *need* to be a part of and every tune that we hear while driving makes us tackle the road ahead in a different way based on tempo, style and our personal emotional response.

It's been a couple of years since I last commuted by car, in my humble but loved, Honda Integra, that had yet to be sullied by the modifying hordes. I'm sure that it has long since passed over that particular bridge being one of the vehicles of choice for the pimp brigade.

Back then I had a two hour commute from Donnybrook in east Dublin over to that furthest reaches of the city at the edge of Rathcoole in west Dublin.

In that time I consumed a lot of music. I found that certain favourites dropped off the list when it came to driving and unexpected albums and individual tracks became firm "behind the wheel" regulars and this I put down to the chemical effect of the driving experience itself and I guess you have to bind in the age group, gender, personality and vehicular preference of the driver himself. Ahem.

An early favourite for driving was Oasis' debut Definitely Maybe; Columbia in particular would result in a slight weight increase in my right foot and a genetic regression in terms of attitude.. :D

Another two that I always came back to on a regular basis in the car were the Orbital brown album (sometimes referred to as Orbital 2) and Diversions. You probably know already that I'm going to mention Halcyon and Lush 3 (1-2) - the combination of these tunes and driving from Glencullen to Rathcoole across the high speed back roads of the Dublin mountains is exhilarating, addictive and bloody dangerous. At 6.30am on a foggy February morning, you simply focus on the rear lights of the car ahead and try to keep up so that the car behind doesn't crash into you.

The last two that I'll select from this period are an entire albums from Editors, The Back Room and Goldfrapp's Supernature.

boomp3.com

When I had driven out to City West from the other direction (Foster's Avenue - Dundrum - M50 - Firhouse), I would spend a lot of time stationary and songs like Munich and Sparks kept me sane during those periods. When it was particularly grim and I was watching the kids in Jobstown racing their lathered horses against other kids with no crash helmets on motor scooters with the ignition smashed off, Blood seemed more appropriate (by name).

boomp3.com

Supernature was a going home album only, a gold foil, disco infused lift to elevate my spirits for the much longer slog back across the city, particularly for the most demoralising part - bumper to bumper from the M50 exit at Ballinteer into Dundrum, across to Goatstown and down Foster's Avenue all the way to the N11. A sigh of relief on the slip road at Belfield and a crunch of gravel; back home at Cranford.

Other albums listened to regularly on those commutes included:
  • Placebo - Without You I'm Nothing
  • Led Zeppelin 1
  • Turn - Forward (much underrated album from this little known and now disbanded Irish group)
Then something weird happened. Firstly I changed job (joining LeCayla) and my commute by car evaporated to be replaced by the humble and wonderful bicycle - music was quickly replaced by podcasts such as the Stanford ETL, after my lack of concentration resulted in sliding over the bonnet of a taxi who hadn't use his F*****G mirror.

I no longer needed a truly practical car so I was able to consider my options and indulge in another passion that had been hiding since I'd sold my motorcycle as a teenager... I sold the Integra and bought a car with no stereo, a stripped down and very basis version of the GTM Libra.

I have always loved sports cars and I spend a lot of time ogling creative examples of the human desire to get injured at speed. Everything from the sublime, near perfect, Mazda Mx-5 to the ridiculous beauty that is the Lamborghini Murcielago and the spectacular results of optimistic, small manufacturers like Phantom, Javan, Ginetta (G20 pictured left) and Fisher that survive through focusing on the self-assembly market.

The last four I've mentioned are unknown to most (and yet again I call upon you all to read The Long Tail), there is a wealth of wonderful, practical and exciting vehicles that are not necessarily expensive out there, ready to be discovered by those wanting something a little special.

The Libra (pictured right) by GTM, who were recently acquired by Westfield owners, Potenza, is a nimble, rear engined, 2 seater coupé running various engine offerings from the humblest 1.1 Rover K-Series to Honda Type-Rs and the insanity of a dual turbo Audi V8!

My little Libra is currently in UK having some serious upgrades put in. A couple of 4am rises separated by a drive across Wales and England and I felt a little strange walking away from the car at Talon Sportscars' workshop to have a new engine (double the BHP), new dashboard and instruments, suspension and braking system upgrades and at last, the return of music while I drive - a stereo fitted!

I had tried using an MP3 player with portable speakers sticking out of the glovebox but as both Ed and Steve can confirm, this was pretty much useless on the trips to and from Westport for Ed's Stag weekend; the musical discussion on each leg of the trip was more about trying to figure out *which* Beatles track was playing.

... all that's left now is for me to select a number of CDs to bring over for the drive home!

Comments

chillyspoon said…
Oops - I put in the wrong URL for Fisher Sports Cars when I first posted (so it went out with the Ginetta address in the blog emails).. anyway, it should have been http://www.fishersportscars.co.uk/.