The Cars

Drive

Song Review by

The Cars reached a peak level of success when they teamed up with hitmaking Svengali Robert John "Mutt" Lange for 1984's Heartbeat City. This sleek, radio-friendly album was rejected as a sellout effort by some of the band's longtime fans but it represented an effective balance between their love of space-age sounds and their gift for pop songwriting. One of its finest moments was "Drive," a gorgeous ballad that matched heartfelt songwriting to an alluring electronic soundscape to create one of their biggest hits. The lyrics of "Drive" pack a very direct emotional punch as they depict a narrator who knows a relationship with a lovely but unstable person is bad news but when the chorus rolls around he can't help but wonder "Who's gonna drive you home tonight?" The music reflects the lyrical tone with a lovely melody that rises and falls in a soothing yet sad fashion. The Cars' recording of this song applies a sleek, multi-layered electronic arrangement to the song that eliminates guitar-oriented rock for a densely layered bed of synth hooks that are given a gentle beat by programmed drums. This arrangement is given human warmth by Benjamin Orr's plaintive vocal, which communicates the lyrical emotions without overplaying them. This vocal is bolstered by a complex, multi-part background vocal arrangement reminiscent of the vocal backgrounds on 10cc's "I'm Not in Love." This combination of emotion and stylish production made "Drive" a natural hit and it peaked at number three on the pop charts. It also got extensive MTV exposure thanks to a stylish video directed by actor Timothy Hutton that featured model (and future wife of Ric Ocasek) Paulina Porizkova.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Heartbeat City 1984 Elektra 3:55
Greatest Hits 1985 Elektra 3:55
Superstars in Digital 1985
Various Artists
Warner Bros. 3:55
Drive 1989 Elektra 3:58
Cosmopolitan, Vol. 2 1992
Various Artists
Sandstone 3:55
Masterpieces 1993
Various Artists
WEA 3:56
Hits Der 80's, Vol. 2 1994
Various Artists
BMG International 3:53
Radio City Love Songs, Vol. 3 1994
Various Artists
Columbia
18 Rock Classics 1994
Various Artists
Rhino / Essex 3:57
Night Moves, Vol. 5 1995
Various Artists
DCC Compact Classics 3:56
Only Love: 1980-1984 1995
Various Artists
Rhino / JCI Associated Labels 3:57
Heart of America: 19 Soft Rock Ballads 1995
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd.
Just What I Needed: The Cars Anthology 1995 Rhino 3:57
Every Song Tells a Story 1995
Various Artists
Shock Media 3:51
Sounds of the Eighties: The Rolling Stone Collection, 1983-1985 1995
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:55
Eighties Complete, Vol. 2 1997
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:55
The Greatest Love Songs [K-Tel] 1998
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:54
Chart Toppers: Romantic Hits of the 80s 1998
Various Artists
Priority Records 3:58
Most Relaxing Album in the World Ever 1998
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:55
Rock On 1984: Sunglasses at Night 1998
Various Artists
Madacy 3:56
Class Reunion: The Greatest Hits of 1984 1999
Various Artists
Rebound Records / Universal Distribution 3:56
Kuschelrock, Vol. 3 1999
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 3:55
Love in the 80's, Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:57
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Excelsior Recordings
Entertainment Weekly: The Greatest Hits 1984 2000
Various Artists
Buddha Records 3:56
Burning Hearts, Vol. 1 2000
Various Artists
Polygram 3:55
New Millennium Love Songs 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 3:56
Entertainment Weekly: The Greatest Hits 1980-1984 2001
Various Artists
Buddha Records 3:56
Candy-O/Heartbeat City/The Cars 2001 WEA International 3:54
Hit Me With Your 80's Box 2002
Various Artists
Hip-O 3:54
Complete Greatest Hits 2002 Rhino 3:57
The Osbourne Family Album 2002
Original Television Soundtrack
Epic 3:55
Eighties Complete, Vol. 1-3 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:55
What the World Needs Now Is...: The Ultimate Love Collection 2002
Various Artists
Warner Music 3:54
Platinum 80s 2002
Various Artists
Warner Music 3:55
All the 80's 2003
Various Artists
Warner Bros. / Warner Music 3:57
Best of 80s Pop: Love Songs 2003
Various Artists
Rhino 3:55
Road Rock 2003
Various Artists
Flashback / Rhino / Rhino Flashback 3:55
More Ultimate Power of Love 2003
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:56
Ultimate Love [Madacy] 2004
Various Artists
Madacy 3:56
Drive Time [Universal/WB] 2005
Various Artists
WEA / Warner Special Marketing 3:54
The Essentials 2005 WEA International 3:56
The Squid and the Whale [Music from the Motion Picture] 2005
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Ultra Records 3:57
Love [Warner] 2007
Various Artists
Warner Bros. / Warner Music 3:58
Dock Rock, Vol. 5: After Dark 2007
Various Artists
Sony BMG
100 Hits: 80s 2007
Various Artists
100 Hits / Demon Music Group 3:56
The Ultimate Rock Ballads Collection [Time Life] 2007
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:56
15 of the Best: The 80's 2008
Various Artists
Warner Music 3:58
Smash Hits 1984 2009
Various Artists
Rhino 3:56
100 Essential Tracks: 80s 2009
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:56
Rhino Classic Albums Collection [f.y.e. Exclusive] 2009 Rhino 3:54
Original Album Series 2009 Elektra / Rhino 3:54
100 Hits: Mum 2010
Various Artists
100 Hits 3:55
Love Songs: The Ultimate Collection 2011
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:56
Easy 80s 2011
Various Artists
Time Life / Time / Life Music 3:55
Top Hits/80's Only Number 1's 2011
Various Artists
Warner Bros. / Warner Music 3:58
Greatest Ever!: Soft Rock: The Definitive Collection 2012
Various Artists
Greatest Ever 3:56
'80s: The Collection 2012
Various Artists
Rhino 3:55
Romantically Yours: Always 2012
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:57
The Ultimate Collection: Driving Songs 2014
Various Artists
Union Square Music / Universal 3:54
Studio Album Collection, 1978-1987 2014 Elektra / Rhino 3:58
The Elektra Years: 1978-1987 2016 Elektra / Rhino 3:54
Moving in Stereo: The Best of the Cars 2016 Elektra / Rhino 3:55
80s Symphonic 2018
Various Artists
Rhino
80 Hits of the '80s
Various Artists
Rhino
80's The Collection
Various Artists
Rhino 3:58
No Image
Various Artists
Virgin
Best of 1984: 20th Century Masters
Various Artists
Strategic Marketing 3:57
Born to Rock: 60 Tracks of Classic Rock
Various Artists
Rhino / Warner Music 2:52
Just Can't Get Enough: Pop Hits of the '80s
Various Artists
Rhino
Pop Ballads, Vol. 4
Various Artists
Arcade Music
Power Ballads: The Collection
Various Artists
Rhino
Road Trip: 60 Essential Driving Songs
Various Artists
Union Square Music 3:54
Romantically Yours
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:57
Take Me On: 80s, The Collection
Various Artists
Rhino / Warner Music 3:55
The Best Ever Road Trip
Various Artists
Rhino
Top Hits/Ballads & Love Songs 80's & 90's
Various Artists
Warner Bros. / Warner Music 3:58