With the advent of modern technology, how fast something goes has become of utmost importance. Transportation has consistently evolved to provide more speed, industries have been designed for expedient efficiency, and some people live their lives with an addiction to a fast lifestyle. Here are some of the best songs about speed that you can enjoy in any speed-themed playlist.
Song Year: 1970
Casey Jones has become a massive underground hit, largely in part due to its obvious drug reference. However, the song has roots taken from old folk music written during the turn of the 20th century.
Casey Jones was actually a real-life train operator who died in a train crash via a head-on collision with another train. Many Grateful Dead songs feature common folk tropes, and the band’s lyricist Robert Hunter turned this trope upside down, adding modernized elements to make this song relevant to today’s society.
Song Year: 1997
Elliott Smith was a master lyricist of his time, though he is often overlooked by those who consume mainstream media. His track Speed Trials, from his 1997 album Either/Or paints a detailed picture of someone that has an addiction to speed (the drug).
The character in the lyrics is personified as someone who meets their dealer in shady places and lives their life in an aimless fashion. The chorus portrays the mindset of someone on this drug, where their body may be perfectly still but their mind is racing beyond comprehension.
Song Year: 1971
The track Hot Rod Lincoln was Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen’s only hit song, which some have described as a total fluke. Of course, anyone that has listened to the group’s other songs will tell you that it’s a shame this band isn’t more well known.
Hot Rod Lincoln is a song about a fast, souped-up car, and living the lifestyle of someone that frequently engages in backroad racing. The song is complete with fast guitar licks reminiscent of old-time rock ‘n roll.
Song Year: 1993
Anyone who has ever casually listened to Phish might be surprised to find a song of theirs on this list. The band is usually noted for its long, jammed-out musical improvisations and seemingly non-sensical lyrics. Not the case for the song Fast Enough For You.
This song was written by Tom Marshall, who is a creative partner to guitarist Trey Anastasio, and frequently contributed songs to the band’s repertoire. Fast Enough For You is a song about the possibilities of what a romantic relationship would be like if the time it took to reach the next milestone wasn’t an expectation. Sometimes, pressure can really ruin something great, and this heartfelt ballad captures that perfectly. Maybe speed isn’t so great, after all.
Song Year: 1976
The arena glam-rock band KISS is known for their nearly explicit songs about love (or the act of making love), and Mr. Speed is no exception. This track from the band’s album Rock And Roll Over features iconic bar-room guitar-riffage that is signature to this band’s style.
Mr. Speed is about somebody that is frequently called upon to please the ladies in the bedroom. The reason why they’re named Mr. Speed…well, we’ll let you put that one together, but it perhaps alludes to the fact that one of the two people in the equation attains pleasure a little faster than the other. It’s probably not a nickname to be proud of.
Song Year: 1989
Mötley Crüe was a band known for living the fast rock ‘n roll lifestyle, and there has been plenty of documentation of how crazy this band could get. Kickstart My Heart is a massively famous song that captures this band’s party days quite well.
The lyrics of Kickstart My Heart tell of someone who is an adrenaline junky. Whether it be fast cars, drugs, or jumping from a plane, this character has a taste for it all. The fast-paced music of the song accompanies this message quite well, adding a sense of rawness that feels a bit rough around the edges.
Song Year: 1988
Tracy Chapman exploded onto the scene with her self-titled debut album in 1988, and the song Fast Car helped to cement her career as a talented musician and vocalist. This song became a massive hit, instantly recognizable by its melodramatic guitar line and rhythmic vocal delivery.
The song is about somebody wanting more from life, and doing whatever it takes to get out of the situation that they are currently in. The lyrics portray somebody who works a low-paying dead-end job saving up money while also having to take care of an alcoholic father. Somebody with a fast car would make a great fit for this person’s ticket to a new life, stating that it wouldn’t take much because they’ve already put in the work necessary to make a new life a successful venture.
Song Year: 1976
Life In The Fast Lane is a true classic that spawned during the heyday of 1970s rock ‘n roll. No doubt, this song is instantly recognizable with its opening guitar riff which gets doubled with an additional harmonic guitar riff, before exploding into the song that it is.
The band really captured what it is like to live the fast rock ‘n roll lifestyle with this song. The lyrics are all about two people who enjoy each other, but perhaps enjoy the extracurricular activities that come with a fast lifestyle a bit more. These are folks that like to chase the next thrill, no matter what the cost.
It is somewhat amusing how one word in the English language can have so many different meanings and be used in a variety of different ways to convey different messages. This list has been a great example of how speed plays into the fast lifestyle, as well as the detriment that moving too fast can have. Nevertheless, as time progresses, speed will likely continue to play an important role within society.