Conventional wisdom assumes that the primary breakthrough of the automobile at the turn of the 20th Century was its ability to get its driver and passengers from Point A to Point B much more quickly than the horse-drawn carriage. WRONGGGGGG! As any auto historian will tell you, the young lovers of those innocent times knew the real secret about cars: it provided a new, slightly covert, even at times comfortable space to "fool around." (Editor's note: You must realize this was waaaaay back when cars did not come predominantly in "economy-sized" models. Today, pretensions to "comfort" during romantic automobile trysts are inaccessible to all but, ironically enough, those who purchase Hummers. Yes, I am available for birthday parties and bar-mitzvahs!) This new thing, this Car, not only reduced travel time, but it significantly reduced a number of embarrassing moments--such as having ones parents or annoying college roommates walk into a bedroom during .... well you get the picture. Its slight spaciousness and its inherent mobility resulted in a new, widespread geographical feature: Lover's Lane. Basically, without the car, many people of my parents' generation would never have been accidentally conceived.
The towering singing sensation of the 1980s, Billy Ocean, is quick to acknowledge this, some 90 years after its invention, in his monumental, Mutt Lange-produced hit, "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car." Never before had soulful poetry of this caliber -- reminiscent of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's epic In Memoriam A.H.H., or Jimmy Stewart's "Beau" -- centered around this secret sexual underground of the four-wheel motor car. Atop a soulful groove of "Sussidio" horn licks, Kraftwerk beats with plenty of gated reverb, and a vicious, Ayler-esque sax solo during the bridge, Ocean's narrator lusts after an unrequited love who he's longed for ... since he just noticed her walking down the street about fifteen seconds ago. Though he's only known of her beauty for a few quarters of a minute, he would like to invite her, like any proper, courteous, and self-respecting gentleman would, into the backseat of his Porsche 911 (seriously?) for, well, you know what. I don't think I need to remind you all, but according to Emily Post's Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home (1922, Funk and Wagnalls), this is the proper thing to do in this situation. When Billy Ocean sings, "Hey you, get into my car," as the song opens, we are aural witnesses to a perfect, succinct, and completely wholesome example of valiant romantic courtship. In no way at all is this creepy or desperate. His dedication and heartfelt sincerity should set an example for all of those lonely souls longing to know they've met "the one" in less time than it takes to put popcorn into the microwave. For these reasons, and many many more, Billy Ocean's "Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car" remains one of our culture's musical touchstones of the era.