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Best Metal Driving Songs
10. Mötley Crüe – Kickstart My Heart
In a 2015 interview, Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx related the origins of “Kickstart My Heart”, which he wrote while the band was already working on Dr. Feelgood. Sixx was playing acoustic guitar in his house while scribbling words on a piece of paper. When the group’s former manager read the words, he encouraged Sixx to share it with the rest of the band. Sixx was reluctant, but eventually did show the band and the track came together quickly.
The video clip was shot in the Whisky a Go Go on October 5, 1989 during Mötley Crüe’s warm up show before embarking on the Dr. Feelgood Tour. Sam Kinison is featured at the start of the video in a short cameo as the band’s driver.
9. Alice Cooper – Lost in America
A music video was made for the song, but it received almost no airplay at all. The music video features a young boy (supposedly Steven) reading the Marvel comics adaptation of the album, written by Neil Gaiman. The comic book comes to life as Alice Cooper and his band playing the song with several video clips referencing the song’s lyrics.
8. Iron Maiden – The Trooper
Written by bassist and founder-member Steve Harris, the song is based on the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava 1854, which took place during the Crimean War, and inspired by Lord Tennyson’s poem of the same name. The track has been the subject of much praise since its release, with AllMusic describing it as “an all-time genre classic that boasts guitarists (Dave Murray) and )Adrian Smith’s) most memorable harmonized lead riff, plus that trademark galloping rhythm,” while Mick Wall comments that it is the song “which most Maiden fans from those days still recall first when you mention the Piece of Mind album.” Despite the popularity of the song, it was the single’s B-Side, a cover of Jethro Tull’s “Cross-Eyed Mary”, which managed to gain a substantial amount of airplay on US radio, becoming one of the band’s few tracks, along with previous single “Flight of Icarus”, to do so.
The single’s accompanying music video included clips of a cavalry battle from the 1936 film The Charge of the Light Brigade
7. White Zombie – Black Sunshine
The song is about a racing car, a Ford Mustang, called “Black Sunshine.” Iggy Pop recorded the spoken word vocal intro and outro of the song “Black Sunshine” as well as playing the character of a writer in the video shot for the song. He is singled out for special thanks in the liner notes of album. The audio sample “I work on this baby the same way, trying to get maximum performance,” is taken from the 1965 movie Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. Also, the lyrics contain the words “to the devil a daughter comes,” most likely a reference to the movie To the Devil a Daughter. It is in 6/4 and 4/4 time with a tempo of 135 beats per minute.
Iggy Pop’s spoken intro is as follows:
“Gripping the wheel his knuckles went white with desire
The wheels of his Mustang exploding on the highway like a slug from a .45
True death: 400 horsepower of maximum performance piercing the night
This is Black Sunshine.”
6. AC/DC – Highway to Hell
The song’s title reflects the incredibly arduous nature of touring constantly and life on the road. The song was written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young and Bon Scott, with Angus Young credited for writing the guitar riff which became an instant classic.
Bon Scott, whose talent as a singer and rock frontman was at a peak, was found dead in the back of a friend’s car just over six months after the song was released.
5. Judas Priest – Freewheel Burning
The B-sides of this single are live versions of “Breaking the Law” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” recorded at the US Festival from Glen Helen Park, near Devore, San Bernardino in California on 29 May 1983 in front of an approx audience of 375,000 people. The version of “Breaking the Law” is also the first official version released to feature K.K. Downing’s added live guitar solo.
The music video contains footage of the band playing while a boy is playing the arcade game Pole Position over which Rob Halford’s face is superimposed.
4. Metallica – Fuel
As an instrumental piece, “Fuel” was the theme song and used as background music during race recaps for NASCAR broadcasts on NBC and TNT from 2001 to 2003 seasons. However, from the MBNA Cal Ripken Jr. 400 until the end of the 2001 season, the opening scream (“Give me fuel, Give me fire, Give me that which I desire!”) was removed because of its close association with terrorists in the wake of the September 11 attacks. The pre-release version of the song entitled “Fuel for Fire” (recorded on October 5, 1995) (with different lyrics) appears on the NASCAR Full Throttle CD. Sometimes at live concerts, James and Kirk slide their guitars to make an engine roaring sound to add the taste of the theme of the song. The song was used as the entrance music for NASCAR drivers Kyle Busch and Joey Logano when they guest-starred on the October 26, 2009 episode of WWE Raw.
3. Pantera – Walk
The riff for “Walk” is played in a time signature of 12/8. Dimebag Darrell played the riff at a soundcheck during the tour for Cowboys from Hell and the rest of the band loved it.
Phil Anselmo said that the message of the song was “Take your fucking attitude and take a fuckin’ walk with that. Keep that shit away from me”. His message was aimed at friends that treated the band differently when they arrived home after touring for Cowboys from Hell. He said “they thought it had gone to our heads, like we’ve got this rock-star thing embroidered across our faces”.
The music video was shot at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago. The cover for the single is a screenshot of the band’s “Mouth for War” music video.
2. Deep Purple – Highway Star
This song was born on a tour bus going to Portsmouth in 1971 when a reporter asked the band how they wrote songs. To demonstrate, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore grabbed an acoustic guitar and began playing a riff consisting of a single “G” repeated over and over, while vocalist Ian Gillan improvised lyrics over the top. The song was refined and was performed that same night. The song first appears on the 1972 LP Machine Head. The track remains one of the band’s staples in live concerts, and was the set opener even before it was released on any album.
The structure of the song consists of a 35-second bass/guitar introduction, before the band launches into the thumping opening riff, which soon leads into the first vocals section (0:55). The first two verses are sung, then Jon Lord begins his organ solo (2:14). The organ solo lasts for about a minute, then Ian Gillan sings the third verse of the song (3:24). At the conclusion of the third verse, the guitar solo starts (4:04), and lasts for just under a minute and twenty seconds. Then, the fourth and final verse, which in the original recording is simply a repetition of the first verse, is sung, finishing around 6:10. Depending on the version, there may be a 15-second-long exit section before the end of the song. When the song is played live, Gillan has been known to improvise its lyrics, as seen in the official video for the song.
1. Metallica – Wherever I May Roam
All stringed instruments featured in this song, both guitars and basses, are tuned in the standard tuning of E A D G B E. The original recording of the song is notable for its interesting instrumentation: Asian instruments such as a gong and sitar-like-guitar feature, along with an overdubbed Warwick twelve-string bass. This instrument was only used for ‘effect’ during the intro to emphasize several accented notes and then a standardly tuned 4-string bass was used as the main bass instrument throughout the remainder of the recording.
The song is performed frequently during the band’s live concerts, and was performed with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Jason Newsted never reprised his use of the 12-string bass guitar for any live performances of the song.
The music video featured clips from Metallica behind the scenes and in concert, during their Wherever We May Roam Tour.