You've read it here before: Teenagers now wait until they’re older before getting a driver’s license.
Two reasons are often noted. One, a sagging economy that makes driving too expensive. Two, the rise of social media, which gives teenagers the freedom and camaraderie previously attained through driving.
Researchers now suggest that a deeper cultural shift is to blame for motorists of all ages driving less:
- American highways were far less crowded in decades past, when cars were immortalized in songs, movies, and TV shows.
- Driving is no longer fun for commuters stuck in traffic or struggling to find parking.
- Cars have evolved into computers on wheels that weekend mechanics can’t fix or tinker with.
- More people are shopping online rather than in person.
- More people are commuting on buses and trains or riding bikes to avoid traffic.
- Buying and owning a car has become a strain with ever-rising new-car prices.
“The car as a fetish of masculinity is probably over for certain age groups,” said behavior analyst Nancy McGuckin in an Associated Press article. “I don’t think young men care as much about the car they drive as they used to.”
A web search for "100 best songs about cars" seems to support that. The online lists are heavy with 1950s and ‘60s tunes, some by artists largely known for their car songs – Chuck Berry (“Maybellene,” “No Particular Place to Go”), the Beach Boys (“409,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Shut Down,” “Fun Fun Fun” and more), and Jan & Dean (“Dean Man’s Curve,” “Drag City,” “Little Old Lady from Pasadena”).
Even longtime enduring artists like Bruce Springsteen (“Cadillac Ranch,” “Pink Cadillac”), Eagles (“Ol’ ’55,” “Take It Easy”), and Neil Young (“Coupe de Ville,” “Trans Am,” “Long May You Run,” “Motor City” ) sing odes to cars to this day.
Save for an occasional country hit or songs like “Camaro” by the Kings of Leon or Pearl Jam’s remake of “Last Kiss,” the 2000s have been nearly void of car-culture anthems. As Taylor Swift sang, perhaps we are never ever getting back together. At least, not like we did in the golden era of driving.
Read the AP article that appeared in The Seattle Times.