This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #380: Radar Love by Golden Earring.
One of the things I like to do to unwind is to go for a drive in my car. As you know, there are various types of driving that one does in a car; everything from a relaxing, meandering drive through the countryside, to the stop-and-go of the city. But, my favourite type of driving is being on the open highway, throttle down, engine roaring, wind blowing back your hair, tunes on ten! Now that I am retired and now that we are in Covid-inspired lockdown, I don’t find myself travelling down the highway as much. But, every now and again, circumstances conspire to bring me out of the house and into my car and out onto the highway and when this happens, “Radar Love” by Golden Earring is always one of the songs that I play.
Golden Earring happen to be a Dutch band. I find the biography of this band to be shocking in the sense that they formed in the early 1960s (when they were only in their mid-teens) and only just recently broke up due to health issues among some of the band members. As a functioning band, Golden Earring were together for almost sixty years!!! In that time, they have released dozens and dozens of albums in their homeland and have scored numerous Top Ten hits. In a way, they remind me of Canada’s own, Tragically Hip. They are woven into the cultural fabric of Holland the same way The Hip are in Canada yet, in both cases, neither band has had much of a presence in America. In fact, if I were being honest, I would have to admit that I only really know two songs of theirs: the US hits, “Twilight Zone” and “Radar Love”. But what songs they are!
“Radar Love” is a driving song. In the niche category of best road trip songs, “Radar Love” consistently ranks at or near the top all of the time. It is a song about two lovers racing to be together, bonded by this thing that they call, “Radar Love”. It is, almost, a supernatural force that is bringing them closer and closer together as the singer says, “I’ve been driving all night, my hands wet on the wheel….”. The guitar work in “Radar Love” is often used to mimic the roaring of a car engine in this song. The drums opening the song sound like wheels turning on pavement. So, as you burn down the highway, getting closer and closer to your destination, the song proceeds along to its ultimate climax, too. In the end, you get where you’re going while having had a rock n’ roll ride at the same time.
“Radar Love” was released in the 1970s but is a staple of Classic Rock radio stations right up to today. It is a typical guitar-driven rock song of the era but, unlike so many others, it perfectly captures the joy of being on the open road, the engine wide open, tunes blaring, beautiful lover waiting at the other end. As songs go, this tends to be a “guy’s” song but don’t let that stop you (if you are a lady) from enjoying the feelings that it espouses. If ever there was a time to get out of our homes, our neighbourhoods and our towns and travel some place new and different, these are those times. And, if you do decide to head out then, “Radar Love” is one of the best tunes you can place onto your playlist.
“No more speed, I’m almost there.
Gotta be cool now. Gotta take care.
Last car to pass, here I go,
And the line of cars go down real slow.
And the radio’s playing that forgotten song,
Brenda Lee’s, “Coming On Strong”
And the newsman sang, his last song
Oh, one more Radar Lover gone!”
The link to the video for “Radar Love” by Golden Earring, can be found here.
The link to the website for Golden Earring can be found here.
The link to the website of the fabulous KEXP, who have supported “driving songs” for almost as long as there have been roads to travel on, can be found here.