Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chet Baker and America’s Love Affair with Automobiles

I just came across an amazing video filled with vintage cars driving around to the sounds of Chet Bakers’ “I’ve Never Been in Love Before.” This clip is eerily enchanting and leaves you mesmerized.

It’s funny how car culture is an odd American phenomenon. This video serves as an ode to America’s love affair with automobiles and helps me remember why cars are kind of amazing. In our present environment, it’s easy to abhor cars as carbon belching, fossil fuel devouring symbols of waste, however it was not always so. This video transports us to a time when we, as a collective society, were not fully aware of the consequences of our lifestyles. Instead, automobiles were simply beautiful things that symbolized progress not only technologically, but socially as individuals and as a society. To own a car meant that one had achieved a certain status in life. A certain level of comfort that a generation before could hardly imagine possible. While, as a society it seemed that we were racing forward without limits. The future lay ahead and the only thing on the horizon was propserity and opportunity.

The car is quintessentially American, our entire modern existence developed around the widespread advent of automobiles. Drive-in movies, suburbs, fuel stations with jolly attendants, valets, white-gloved traffic cops, fooling around in the back seat, and road trips scream Americana with all of its post-war giddiness.

As for Chet Baker, it’s difficult to say much about him that hasn't already been said. My roommate and I were talking about it last night, and we came to the conclusion that Chet Baker is apt for every occasion because everything of his is tinged with a slight melancholy, making it deliriously romantic.

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