Car-aoke | #10

The Caddy.

Few other everyday objects have shaped modern music as much as the car. In this column, Daimler's editors write about songs that tell a car-related story. Some of them have even gone down in music history. But by no means all of them...

2 min reading time

by Christian Scholz, Editor
published on November 12, 2020

For us “Cold War kids” growing up in Western-Germany in the 1980s, everything coming from the United States was unquestionably cool: American food (especially if it came from Burger King, which was exotic compared to the “Golden Arches”), American films (back then we naturally didn’t know that “Top Gun” and “Rambo” were sponsored by the US Department of Defense), and of course American music. We were happy to surround ourselves with all this, and in terms of culture we felt more rooted in Texas, California or Michigan than in the state of Baden Wuerttemberg.

But there was one cultural feature of the United States that we rarely got to see: automobiles from “across the big pond.” However, we did encounter them even more often in the American songs that pumped into our ears by our omnipresent Walkmans. The Chevrolet, the Camaro, the Corvette, and the Cadillac. Their very names promised glamour, adventure, and freedom.

And if we ever actually saw an American car whizzing past us in normally sedate Stuttgart-Möhringen (of course with its original American license plates from the nearby Kelley Barracks of the US Army), our eyes widened in sheer awe. But most of them were pickup trucks or SUVs (though they weren’t called that back then). Unfortunately, we never saw a Cadillac. That only fostered the myth of a brand that was obviously not for GIs but was reserved exclusively for Hollywood stars.

The Cadillac - a star in many songs
The Cadillac - a star in many songs

Whether it was a pink Cadillac (Natalie Cole) , a black Cadillac (Hoodoo Rhythm Devils) , a white Cadillac (Donna Lou)  or a red Cadillac (Bill Watkins) . The color apparently didn’t make much of a difference. Bruce Springsteen, whose “Born in the USA” seemed to us the very archetype of the “American way of life” (of course our teenage ears didn’t hear that the text was a caustic criticism of the American system), apparently had a whole “Cadillac ranch ” of his own. “Rides just like a little bit of heaven here on earth.” Sure, this was a car sent by heaven. “Heaven's in the back seat of my Cadillac. Let me take you there, yeah yeah” — that was the promise made by Hot Chocolate . Even though none of us had a driver’s license yet, all of us wanted to grow up to be a King of the Road: “It makes me feel like a king, I only need one thing, and that's a slick black Cadillac(Quiet Riot) .

I don’t remember the exact details any more, but at some point the myth must have faded. It may have had something to do with a guy called “Geronimo”, who drove a Cadillac and made all the girls’ heads turn. As for the boys in our class, he only made our stomachs turn. But actually, by then we really thought the Ferrari was much cooler. It’s true that it came from Maranello in Italy, but it was driven by our new heroes, Crockett and Tubbs, through the radiant neon-colored city of Miami. But that’s a whole other (car) story.

Christian Scholz

had neither a Cadillac nor a driver’s license back in the 1980s. His first car was a Golf Memphis. He didn’t buy it because of nostalgia for Elvis, even though Elvis did drive a Cadillac.

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