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  • Writer's pictureLucas Friesen

Playlist: Night Drive

Please click the link to find the playlist on Apple Music:

The horizon from the hood of a black car. The road is wet and in the distance is the glow of a yellow light, which shines on the horizon and on the clouds in the sky.

We are back, once again, with a brand new playlist for music fans. This playlist belongs connected to the Bluetooth or cable in your car, while driving from dusk to the morning star.

Night Drive starts with hip-hop. Kanye, love him or hate him, has always had something for night-driving people. His influential, soul-sampling beats permeate this playlist. It was while researching his instrumentals that I found “Home Is Where the Hatred Is” by Gil-Scot Heron. This was sampled on Kanye’s album, Late Registration. This 1970s soul/jazz song turned out to be one of the most visceral songs I’ve ever heard. It appears later in the playlist.

An important detour on Night Drive leads us to the Southern United States. The southern hip-hop movement of the 1990s is essential to the night-driving experience and influenced some of the most nocturnal modern-rap songs. Hip-hop in the south during the 1990s was defined by many artists, including D.J. Screw. This Houston disc-jockey’s sound was inspired by the effects of drinking too much codeine cough syrup. To match the drowsy effects of codeine, D.J. Screw’s music was characterized by the slowing down of records. This slowed-down effect became widely used in hip-hop. It is usually accompanied by the southern chop. As such, songs given this treatment are called “chopped and screwed.” Although a song can be chopped by any D.J., only D.J. Screw tapes can be labelled as officially “screwed.” This became an important distinction when the sound became famous and many imposters started claiming to have a screwed tape that was not actually created by the master. That’s why they warn you, on 3 ‘N The Mornin’, to “watch yo Screw.”

Included in Night Drive is an homage to Batman. For modern audiences, few songs are more appropriate when driving at night, while pretending your jalopy is the Batmobile, than Nirvana’s “Something in the Way,” the theme from Robert Pattison’s The Batman. I chose to include the live rendition of this song from Nirvana’s excellent live album, MTV Unplugged in New York.

There is also the inclusion of Bruce Springsteen’s “State Trooper,” which some may remember as a credits song from The Sopranos. It is from Springsteen’s album, Nebraska, a left turn for the artist that saw him trade in his electric guitar and showmanship for a stripped-backed, quiet album.

“So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright” is a highlight for me from the catalogue of Simon and Garfunkel. The story goes that Garfunkel didn’t believe Simon’s claim that he (Simon) could write a song about anything. Garfunkel challenged him to write a song about Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect who Simon claimed to never have heard of. The song he wrote doubles as a farewell to Garfunkel, as the two had agreed to separate after the release of their album, Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Jazz is essential for night driving, just ask any cabbie over 40 or any cinephile who’s seen Taxi Driver. One unique song on this playlist is, “My Man is Gone Now,” by Bill Evans and Jim Hall. This duo has a renown jazz album, Undercurrents, but they made a second, lesser-known album later in the 1960s, Intermodulation. These would be the only two collaborative albums this duo would make. I love their blend of melancholic piano and midnight-sonata guitar.

Finally, at the latest hour, when you can see dawn on the horizon, there’s a little selection of country songs to lead you through. “Drive On” by Johnny Cash tells the story of a soldier returning from war and feeling like the trauma was all for nothing. The Man in Black always kept it real.

This playlist should be long enough to get you from A to B. I hope you like it and discover some new tunes. Turn it up and get home safely.

Please click the link to find the playlist on Apple Music:

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