October 4th, 2017 by

The name “Cadillac” is an American legend. No other automobile has inspired more song lyrics – in an astonishing diversity of genres, from jazz to blues to rock through country to hip hop and beyond.

While many dozens of songs prominently mention the Cadillac, it’s clear that simply dropping the Cadillac name into a lyric isn’t sufficient to create a classic song. For that to happen, the artist must dig deeper, infusing the musical work with the same propulsive, luxurious and dynamic qualities manifested by the car. Here’s a short list of Cadillac-themed songs that accomplish that difficult feat with style, power and pizazz:

Maybelline – Chuck Berry (1958)

Chuck Berry was arguably the finest pop song writer of the 20th Century. What made Berry’s music unforgettable wasn’t just the pioneering guitar and voice work: it was his ability to specifically conjure details of American life in hyper-realistic, cinematic detail. Maybelline – recorded in 1958 – is an epic declaration – conveyed in less than 2 minutes and 20 seconds – of a man’s driving passion for two objects of eternal, unquenchable desire: Maybelline – and her fast-moving, Ford-beating, heart-racing Coup De Ville.

One Piece at a Time – Johnny Cash (1976)

Johnny Cash – the man in black – had a healthy sense of humor he often cloaked, and “One Piece at a Time” recounts the humorous fictional tale of a GM assembly line worker from Tennessee whose life goal is to build a “new” Cadillac completely out of parts smuggled out of the plant in his lunchbox. The song finds Cash at his funniest, using the trademark “talking blues” style pioneered in his chart-topping Boy Named Sue. An actual “49-73 Cadillac” was built to honor “One Piece at a Time,” but was sadly scrapped shortly after Cash’s death in 2003.

Cadillac Walk – Mink DeVille (1977)

Willy DeVille (1950-2009) — the musical mainspring behind CBGB house band Mink DeVille — had a major thing for Cadillacs, and his classic 1977 composition, Cadillac Walk – is one of the smartest, sexiest, most original compositions ever to enshrine a Cadillac within a pop song. Neither New Age, Rock, nor Punk, “Cadillac Walk” is pure energy and chrome, styled to the max, restrained only by its all too brief 3:20 running time.

Cadillac Ranch – Bruce Springsteen (1980) , Pink Cadillac – Bruce Springsteen (1984)

Bruce Springsteen’s Cadillac-themed songs rumble like dual-carb phantoms through the dawn-flecked Watchung Hills, threading a narrow path between sin, salvation, power and desire. We find it impossible to choose which song is best to blast out your window while tooling down Route 1 – Cadillac Ranch or Pink Cadillac, because The Boss so squarely hits the mark with each.

Cadillac Blues – Karen Lawrence and Blue By Nature (1995)

“Baby why you walking?” asks Karen Lawrence, weaving a white-hot Cadillac-infused fantasy concerning custom leather seats, a hot V8 engine, and automatic overdrive. If there’s one song that deserves to make Karen Lawrence’s soulful, smoking-hot band a household name, “Cadillac Blues” is it.

Black Cadillac – Roseanne Cash (2006)

Most great Cadillac-themed songs are driving and upbeat. This one is very different – a song about loss that’s exquisitely wrought from a daughter’s inconsolable grief. Woven with subtle sonic references to Johnny Cash’s classic “Ring of Fire,” “Black Cadillac” is a moving, loving tribute that lifts the listener to the highest levels of the heart’s truth.

Cadillac, Cadillac – Train (2014)

“Call yourself a cab, watch my Cadillac disappear,” croons Train’s Patrick Monahan’s falsetto voice, in the Madmen-inspired video for “Cadillac, Cadillac.” There are plenty of gorgeous costumes to enjoy in this colorfully trippy video, but the real star is the 1968 Cadillac DeVille convertible hosting all the thwarted boy-girl interactions.

That’s What I Like – Bruno Mars (2017)

“Jump in the Cadillac, girl let’s put some miles on it,” exhorts Bruno Mars, citing the Cadillac among life’s most beloved objects in the heartfelt “That’s What I Like.” Mars isn’t just penning a cute Caddy-inspired lyric here – according to Rolling Stone, he’s a real-life Cadillac owner and his prized late-model Caddy, named “Bessie” – was the first thing Bruno bought after getting his album deal. Smart man!

Have a fave Cadillac-featuring song that we’ve somehow missed? Is there an artist that extolled the virtues of the Escalade’s interior? Please let us know – we’ll put it into our ever-evolving City Cadillac digital playlist.

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