One Track Mind: John Oates, “Let’s Drive” from Good Road to Follow (2013)

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“Let’s Drive,” released today as part of John Oates’ Good Road to Follow series, is emblematic of the free-form creative tear he’s been on — combining soul and country, and focusing on a brand-new topic.

Seems John Oates, through his chart-topping career with Daryl Hall and into a lengthy solo journey, had never written a song about a car.

The inspiration came (where else?) from the radio, as Oates heard one of the music’s many legendary car songs. He realized, all at once, that there wasn’t one in his catalog — despite Oates being a self-desribed gear-head. “That’s kind of weird,” Oates remembers thinking. “So, I said: ‘You know, what? I’m going to write a song about a car.’ So I went home, and I started writing. As I got into it a little bit, I came up with this title — “Let’s Drive.” Then I realized, it really wasn’t about a car. It was about what you can do in a car.”

Next, he hooked up with ace sessions guitarist Tom Bukovac, who grounds “Let’s Drive” with a no-nonsense, heartland sensibility — both as a picker, and by hand selecting the rest of this five-piece band of Nashville pros. Combined with Oates’ smooth R&B sensibility (let’s just say there’s something distinctively sensual going on in the backseat of that vehicle), “Let’s Drive” emerges as another offbeat success in Oates’ on-going efforts to break out of the restrictions surrounding his MTV-era persona.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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