Casiotone for the Painfully Alone (post coming soon) has a song called “White Jetta” — a nostalgic tune with a killer “Had this little car since I was seventeen” stanza-starter that gets me going every time.
That’s how long I had my little car! It wasn’t actually little — it was a boxy Volvo station wagon circa 1997 — nor was it mine, but it remained my vehicle of choice until we sold it to some family friends. Dicks.
Do I miss the sex I had in the Volvo? Sure. The weed that I consumed via punctured soda can? Obv. But more than any of that, I miss doing the only thing that I could only ever do in my car, alone: SING.
I have a terrible voice, and I’m terribly shy about it, and wayyy too many of my favorite artists flaunt Emily Haines-level vocals, which means that the Volv’s isolated driver’s seat was my only place to let loose, belting out “I believe in a thing called love!” and “The smell of wine and cheap perfume…” and, sometimes,
But I’m the luckiest guy on the Lower East Side
’Cause I’ve got wheels and you want to go for a ride
Which brings us to this moment’s catchiest song: “The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side” — a tune off of The Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs epic (1999), representing the top-end of said epic’s widely varying spectrum.
“Luckiest Guy” is about a guy who feels very fortunate indeed when the girl he loves condescends to use him for rides around down. She gets other things from other dudes, sure — Andy gets her candy, Professor Blumen makes her feel like a woman, and other such rhymes — but he’s the only one with a car, affording him precious chances at qualifying for the LES’s luckiest.
I’ve always thought this song was adorable, but as of late it’s been striking a chord. I’ve been Volvo-less for a few months now, long enough to accumulate a laundry-list of songs I’ve love to warble amid the comfort and privacy of Swedish engineering.
There’s Vampire Weekend (who I never even listened before giving up the gun and/or Volvo), Russell Brand, miscellaneous Voxtrot, and new Tokyo Police Club, to name a few. Not to mention the usual guilty pleasures that never quite get old.
(And, listen, none of the other cars I could potentially poach from my family have tape decks, and those iPod-to-radio things fuckin’ blow. Eventually I’m going to have to make a mix CD and borrow either of my mom’s mid-life splurges, but for now I’d rather just complain.)
In short: If a dude, any dude, offered me free reign in his vehicle, he would actually be the luckiest guy in the Lower East Side. And/or Brooklyn. I wouldn’t let him ride with me, but I’d find some way to compensate.
The Magnetic Fields, by the way, have always scored major points in my book for their nerdy choice of name — although, let’s face it, electromagnetism is when physics starts getting retarded. (See also: The Math and Physics Club, Death Cab’s “Line of Best Fit” and “Prove My Hypotheses,” and Tokyo Police Club’s “Listen to the Math.”)
The Fields also have an album called i whose tracks all begin with the letter I, my favorite being “I Don’t Believe You,” which I once purchased on a Starbucks-Type Music You Should Listen To When You’re Not At Starbucks album from Starbucks.
Another goodie, which I discovered today, is “I Think I Need a New Heart,” also from 69 Love Songs’ first volume. I listened to it approximately 80 million times while wading through CAPTCHAs and blogging about SEO.