The music gods are off to a good start for 2018. Aimee Mann wins a Grammy. The Cars get voted into the Rock Hall of Fame. And, combining the two, Mann has covered one of the Cars’ biggest hits: “Drive.”
The Cars recorded “Drive” for 1984’s Heartbeat City, the Mutt Lange-produced album that marked the height of the band’s commercial success. “Drive” is a beautiful soft-rock ballad that was accompanied by a heavy rotation MTV video. Remember Paulina Porizkova crying while marking on the wall?
Mann recorded her cover for the television series The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (she also appears in an episode performing “Drive” in a bar). Mann has covered other songs before for tributes or a movie, and most of those efforts only get traction with her loyal fan base. Her take on Three Dog Night’s “One” (a cover of a cover) has broken out wider; she still performs it often on tour.
So what would you expect from a singer-songwriter that covers a dreamy synth song from the 1980s? An acoustic guitar ballad? Ding, ding, ding. Aimee’s stripped-down playing and her unique voice accentuate the melancholy in “Drive.” This simple music plays to Aimee’s strength, and she does not disappoint. The Cars’ original version holds up today 34 years later, so there is a slim chance of improving this classic with a poppy overproduced version; thankfully she went in a different direction.
Give Aimee Mann’s acoustic cover of “Drive” a listen and sing along like you just lost your true love at the school dance.