Remember that time when Chevrolet released a folk rock album about safe driving featuring Carly Simon? I’m sure you have this gem in your music collection, right? No?
Well, it happened and the result was called Chevrolet Sings of Safe Driving and You, an unusual marketing piece that comes off a little bit like School House Rock with deep educational lyrics such as, “look at the silent snow but remember to go slow…when it gently covers the ground, turn on your lights and…slow down.”
The album is a lost relic of the 1960s, a Mad Men-esque advertising technique that came to be known as “industrial musicals.” A company — usually one with a bland product or service — would put out an album of songs meant to promote the company and get people excited to buy the brand. The most unusual one I’ve seen so far is a late ’60s album that American Standard produced called The Bathrooms Are Coming!
Chevrolet Sings of Safe Driving and You was released either in 1965, ’66, or ’67 (sources differ) and was aimed at the younger driver demographic; the newly-licensed teens and young people receiving their first car. There’s not much info available on how the record was distributed…most likely it was given away at Chevy dealers…but what is obvious is that all of the songs are about safe driving, weather conditions, and the rules of the road. My favorite track is “The Natural Laws (Laws of Motion)”, a kicky, Sonny, and Cher-esque number with the prolific lyrics, “And when you’re in a move…yeah, really in a groove…what keeps you going on your course? Of course…centrifugal force.”
Today’s teens would surely roll their eyes if such a recording was released today!
In between the lyrics, Simon and her male singing partner speak of the rules of safe driving (which kind of breaks the momentum of the music.) Other songs include “An Exciting Thing (Driving A Car)”, “When the Wrong Things Happen (Stopping Distances)”, “Nowhere Fast (Observance and Enforcement)” and “Cities and Towns (Driving in the City and Heavy Traffic)”.
Perhaps the strangest thing about the album is the reviews I read about it online; collectors of LP rarities find the songs well-composed and Carly Simon fans are practically orgasmic at the idea of the songstress contributing to such a project. Supposedly the price of this album went up on sites such as eBay once it was revealed Simon was the female vocalist on it. Personally, while I can appreciate the effort that was definitely put into it, I just can’t see pulling this one out and playing it on purpose for enjoyment. But, whatever floats your boat…or toots your horn.
Want to have a listen? Here’s a track from YouTube. Crank it up!