Music is a universal language that speaks to everyone a little differently … and regardless of how it speaks to you everyone loves it.
While we may not all agree on the style or genre of music, it has the power to motivate, inspire, cheer, reflect and make us search within ourselves.
I might turn to Alabama, the Beatles, dada or Eminem depending on my present state of mind, while you may crank up the volume to the Counting Crows, the Rolling Stones, John Denver or Kanye West.
Regardless of who you follow or who you pull up on your iPod (or other music-playing device), music allows us to express how we’re feeling. It comforts us when we’re sad or alone, but it also pumps us up when we’re facing a difficult challenge.
That’s why many people listen to music while exercising or running a marathon … or possibly preparing to race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
One of our favorite pre-race activities at Bristol has long been the driver introductions. What makes the driver introductions at Bristol so unique and entertaining?
Easy … the drivers get to walk on stage to a song (any song) of their choosing. Many of the drivers choose songs that they’re currently listening to or songs that get their adrenaline flowing, while other songs may just be plain silly (e.g., Joey Logano selecting Weird Al Yankovic’s “White and Nerdy” or Landon Cassill choosing the theme song to “Sesame Street”).
This got me thinking about what songs I would walk out onstage to if I were a NASCAR driver … and that’s a big if. There were hundreds of songs that immediately came to mind … songs that I liked and songs that motivated me.
There were songs by Metallica, the Eagles, Balsam Range, R.E.M., Yellowcard, James Taylor, Michael Jackson, the Dave Matthews Band, Bob Marley, Pearl Jam, Old Crow Medicine Show, Drake, Barenaked Ladies, the Grateful Dead, Darius Rucker and many others that I could choose from. The enormity of this task hit me like a ton of bricks. How was I going to narrow it down to just five songs?
I was up for the challenge though. So I went to work on trying to decide on the five songs I’d want to hear to get me in the mood to face the high banks of Bristol and the other 39 drivers on track.
After a couple of hours, I had whittled the list down to my top five choices with seven honorable mentions. Below is the list.
Let us know in the comments section below what songs you’d walk out to at Bristol, if you were a NASCAR driver.
1. Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”
Aren’t these two songs almost obligatory on any list like this? Despite the fact that I’ve been a fan of Queen since my days of playing soccer and baseball as a youth, I’d choose “We Will Rock You” more to get in the other drivers’ heads. Although the song is played so often for more or less the same reason and may have lost some of its effect, it just might be enough to get in one of my competitor’s heads. Since the two songs are usually played back-to-back on radio stations, I have to include “We Are the Champions;” however, I’d wait to play that until the end of the race. You know, after I won. On second thought, if this were indeed the case, we may never hear “We Are the Champions.” Regardless, “We Will Rock You” will definitely get the blood flowing and prepare me to take on the world and the race … no matter how foolhardy that may be.
2. The Avett Brothers’ “Kick Drum Heart”
I realize that some may call “foul” on this selection because The Avett Brothers are from Concord, N.C., and where is Lionel Racing located? That’s right — Concord, N.C. I’ll be honest though … I liked the Avett Brothers long before I moved here and long before I knew they were from here. Despite all this, their music is still really good and their song “Kick Drum Heart,” off their album “I and Love and You,” is exactly the song I’d need to get me in the mood to tackle a NASCAR race. It’s energetic and fast-paced with a great rhythm that will likely still be in my head hours later. (Hmm … that might not be such a good thing when fighting for position on a race track.) Two of their other songs that I strongly considered were “Slight Figure of Speech” and “Hard Worker.”
3. Eric Church’s “Talladega”
If you’re a NASCAR fan and you haven’t heard this song, what have you been waiting for? This should be the anthem for legions of fans across the land. I know if I walked out to this blaring on the speakers my fan base as a driver would multiply instantaneously (of course, this is assuming that I had any fans outside my friends and family). The song, however, isn’t really about racing or Talladega. It’s more about the journey we all take through life and the importance of having those you care about with you to experience those great moments. Message received: Enjoy the experience of life with loved ones. If you’ve seen the video (below), it’s shot on the frontstretch at Talladega Superspeedway and includes racing footage, so I think it’s apropos and would make a fine tune to walk out to.
4. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “I Won’t Back Down”
One of the first CDs I bought when I was a teenager was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Greatest Hits,” which came out in 1993. If you could wear out CDs, this is one that I would’ve worn out (along with Counting Crow’s “August and Everything After”). I listened to it all the time and there were no bad songs on the album; I guess that’s why it’s called “Greatest Hits.” While there might be better songs on the album, “I Won’t Back Down” is still a great tune and would be a solid walk-out song. Its lyrics lets other drivers know that you’re going to stand your ground and you’re going to race all out with nothing to lose. It’s this “never-give-up” mentality that flows throughout the song that makes this the perfect walk-out song.
5. Osborne Brothers’ “Rocky Top”
How do you get thousands of Tennesseans to pull for you at Bristol? The answer: You walk out onstage during driver introductions to the melodious sounds of the Osborne Brothers singing “Rocky Top.” The song is so popular in the Volunteer State that it’s sung at all University of Tennessee home football games and it was even declared an official state song in 1982. It’s been recorded over 100 times, but in my opinion there is no better rendition than the Osborne Brothers’ original recording of the song from 1967. The crazy energy emanating from Bristol’s stands as this song blasts would be more than enough to fuel my adrenaline for 500 laps and then some. A walk-out song like “Rocky Top” at Bristol could even turn the most unpopular driver into a cult hero for a weekend. Could you blame me? Since I’d probably be a terrible driver, I’d need to pull out all the stops to woo fans to my side.
Honorable Mentions: “Satellite” by Dave Matthews Band, “Life Is a Highway” by Tom Cochrane, “All I Am” by dada, “Omaha” by the Counting Crows, “I Can’t Drive 55” by Sammy Hagar, “Can’t Stop” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.