Country music is well-known for its affiliation with trucks, often classic Chevy or Ford pickup trucks, or the slate of songs such as C.W. McCoy’s “Convoy,” Jerry Reed’s “Eastbound and Down,” and Alabama’s “Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler),” that were dedicated to long-haul truckers and big rigs.
But currently, it’s a song about car — Luke Combs’ rendition of Tracy Chapman’s 1988 classic “Fast Car” — that continues riding high in the upper echelons of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
The song’s aspirational-yet-brutally realistic tale revolves around a couple who hope their fast car can help them escape a cycle of poverty. The story has resonated with audiences much as it did in the 1980s when Chapman first released it. Combs’ rendition has spent seven weeks at No. 2 on the chart, marking his highest-ranking song on that chart. Meanwhile, “Fast Car” also crowned the Country Airplay and Adult Pop Airplay charts, and has reached the top 10 on the Adult Contemporary and Pop Airplay charts.
“Oh man, ‘Fast Car’ has surprised me more than you can imagine,” Combs previously told Billboard. “Tracy Chapman wrote this perfect song that that I first heard with my dad and it has stayed with me since. I have played it in my live show now for six-plus years and everyone — I mean everyone — across all these stadiums relates to this song and sings along. That’s the gift of a supernatural song writer. The success of my cover is unreal and I think it’s so cool that Tracy is getting recognized and has reached new milestones.”
Here, we look at 10 other country songs that mention cars in their titles and/or lyrics.
The songs included here are from artists including Reed, Rascal Flatts, George Jones and Kathy Mattea, with scenarios including young love, ambition, lust, and even rage against the societal impacts of automobiles– there’s even a ghostly apparition involved.
Rascal Flatts, “Fast Cars and Freedom”
Rascal Flatts released this ode to youth and freedom in 2005, included on their album Feels Like Today. Lyrics depict a couple in an “old red Nova,” racing down the road and leaving a trail of dust in their wake as they seek excitement. The song became the trio’s fourth No. 1 hit on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
The group’s lead singer Gary LeVox wrote the song with co-writers Wendell Mobley and Neil Thrasher.
Jerry Reed, “Lord, Mr. Ford”
Unlike most songs on this list, which celebrate cars and driving or how some of life’s most pivotal moments involve four wheels, this Jerry Reed song from 1973 takes automobile maker Henry Ford to task for the detrimental impact automobiles have had on society.
Written by Dick Feller, the song calls out the “gas-drinking, piston-clinking, air-polluting, smoke-belching, four-wheeled buggies from Detroit City,” bemoaning not only the climate-destroying element of manufacturing cars, but the years-long expenses of owning and maintaining one.
“Well Lord, Mr. Ford, what have you done?” he asks in the song’s closing lyrics, before beckoning his companion Lucille to come with him “in my smoking, choking automobile.”
Jeff Carson, “The Car”
“The Car,” written by C. Michael Spriggs and Gary Heyde, became a top 5 Country Airplay hit for artist Jeff Carson in late 1995.
The song centers around a father-son relationship, starting out with lyrics about the young boy’s fascination with a classic Mustang and his hopes that they will fix it up and drive it someday. However, the father is too busy working to provide for his son. The years pass by and so does the opportunity to fix up that old car. One day, the son receives a call that his father has died and is told his father left him a note. Inside the envelope is a set of car keys with a message saying that his father did the best he could.
Kathy Mattea, “455 Rocket”
From Mattea’s 1997 album Love Travels, this quirky tale about a woman who buys a used Oldsmobile was written by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.
Though the car “sounded like an aeroplane,” the song’s narrator knows the car is “a jewel in disguise,” and she purchases it to enter local car races. In one such race, the car crashes through a guardrail and has to be towed away. The song didn’t quite crack the top 20 on the Hot Country Songs chart, but is still a classic fan favorite.
George Strait, “I Got a Car”
Written by Tom Douglas and Keith Gattis, “I Got a Car” was released in 2013 as the third single from George Strait’s album Love is Everything. The song centers around two young lovers making their getaway from a small town in search of adventure. He’s got a set of wheels and that’s good enough for her. Eventually, the young woman becomes pregnant and the couple settles down in another town to start a family — and presumably, the car they left their small town in is the same one they drive to the hospital to welcome their child into the world.
David Ball, “Riding With Private Malone”
This 2001 hit was written by Wood Newton and Thom Shepherd and recorded by David Ball.
The song recounts a protagonist who finds a note in the glove box of a 1966 Corvette that he purchased. The note’s writer is Private Malone, who previously fought in the Vietnam War. “If you’re reading this, then I didn’t make it home,” the note states. The car’s new owner restores the classic vehicle, but notices some oddities: a radio that didn’t quite work correctly, and what seemed to be the ghost of a soldier riding shotgun in the seat beside him when he turned his head too quickly.
The song ends with the driver getting into an accident after taking a curve too fast. A nearby eyewitness to the crash says they saw an unidentified soldier pull the driver from the car. “Riding With Private Malone” has since become a classic military-themed story song in the country canon, 1966 Corvette and all.
Keith Urban, “Somewhere in My Car”
This 2014 hit reached topped the Country Airplay chart. Written by Urban with J.T. Harding, “Somewhere in My Car” finds the song’s protagonist reminiscing about a fizzled romance and reliving some of the couple’s most passionate moments, while daydreaming that they were both still together.
Alan Jackson, “Mercury Blues”
In 1993, Jackson earned a No. 2 hit on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles and Tracks chart (now the Hot Country Songs chart) with his rendition of this blues classic written by K.C. Douglas and Robert Geddins. The song centers on a guy who loses his lover to another man who drives a 1949 Mercury.
Notably, Jackson and the song were later featured in a commercial for Ford Trucks, with Jackson performing his rendition of the song — but with the phrase “crazy ’bout a Mercury” replaced in the song by the phrase “Crazy ‘Bout a Ford Truck.”
Dwight Yoakam, “Guitars, Cadillacs”
Yoakam’s 1986 debut album, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., featured this title track (which Yoakam wrote solo) that became a top 5 hit for Yoakam on Country Songs. Here, he invokes the indelible influence of the Bakersfield sound, and artists such as Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and Don Rich, but infuses it with his own signature swagger.
The song finds Yoakam singing of how life has changed after a lover broke his heart. “Now it’s guitars, Cadillacs, [and] hillbilly music,” that serve as his lifeline.
George Jones, “The One I Loved Back Then (The Corvette Song)”
Okay, so this Jones classic from 1986 isn’t actually about a car — but rather, about an old man admiring the beautiful brunette woman sitting in another man’s classic corvette. But for the first portion of the song, listeners think it’s the ‘vette he’s referring to when he recalls to the younger man that “I had one just like her, son, in 1963,” describing one “long and lean/ Every young man’s dream.”
Written by Gary Gentry and produced by Billy Sherrill, this song became a fan favorite and reached the top 5 on the Country Songs chart.