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Monday, March 06, 2023

Songs of '83: "Your Love is Driving Me Crazy"


The week after Prince's defining, outrageous, brilliantly sexualized combination of the classic car and classic one-night-stand song, "Little Red Corvette," broke into the Top 40 on the Billboard charts back in 1983, Sammy Hagar's "Your Love is Driving Me Crazy," his single biggest solo Billboard hit (yes, bigger than 1984's "I Can't Drive 55"), topped out at #13. Prince's song would have much greater success and a much longer life, and deservedly so--but let's take a moment to fit Mr. Hagar, "The Red Rocker," whose family background was shaped by the lettuce fields, steel mills, and brand new suburbs in Southern California in the 1950s and 1960s, into my overall thesis. Even more than Journey's (much better) "Separate Ways" from a couple of weeks ago, Hagar's 1983 hit spoke a musical language that had just about nothing cosmopolitan, nothing multi-racial, nothing New Wave about it. This was, like so much of Hagar's early hard rock, inspired by a desire to get away Fontana, California as soon as possible--which means its references are all within that particular prism. Does that make it a particularly White pop song, a head-banger that existed in contrast to an urbanizing, synthesizing, post-disco-diversity pop environment sweeping American radio otherwise? Check out his style, and decide for yourself.

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