Remember when MTV played music videos and VH1 also played videos, but MTV was cool and VH1 was your parents’ lame channel? Then MTV stopped playing videos and turned into real world rules and the road rules all the time – then some weird real world / rules of the road fusion that was really a game show? At that point we all started watching VH1 because it was still playing videos, and of course there were pop-up factoids half the time, but at least there was still music and videos to enjoy! Anyway, let’s watch some music videos featuring Ford vehicles because it’s a blog about cars, and I have to pretend that my elaborate flashback to my childhood and teenage years is somehow car-related to keep my editors happy. Exit!
1 – I Drive Your Truck – Lee Brice (Ford F-100)
I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a big fan of country music, and there’s certainly no shortage of country songs on trucks. That being said, this one is still worth mentioning because the truck is pretty much the star of the video – after all, the name of the song specifically mentions a truck. And thematically, the song is about driving a truck that belonged to someone else, the act of driving as a celebration of that person’s life and a way of coming to terms with their passing.
The truck in question, at least in the video, is an older Ford F-100, which followed the path of the song’s unnamed subject when the F-150 proved more popular. Of course, the song is definitely an ongoing emotional appeal that goes beyond the clichés, but I’m sure it also speaks to people and how each of us deals with loss. Whether he connects with you or not, you have to admit that the truck in the video looks great and someone clearly put some love into it.
2 – Steve McQueen – Sheryl Crow (Ford Mustang)
Certainly not Sheryl Crow’s loudest song, it was nonetheless a great excuse to recreate some of the car chase imagery from McQueen’s classic film, Bullitt. Bullitt presents one of the best car chases ever filmed, including racing through San Francisco in an iconic fastback Ford Mustang GT. Released in 1968, Bullitt benefits from an absolute lack of computer-generated magic that ruins so many modern car chase sequences – every moment of the chase feels real, practical and carries weight in a way that gets lost these days. .
The Sheryl Crow video isn’t a shot-for-shot remake or anything, but they recreate a lot of classic shots and footage from the film. Ultimately, it’s about capturing the look and feel of classic McQueen, and it ties into the lyrics of the song. Crowe sings “Gotta Fly Like Steve McQueen”, something that happens many times as he tortures his suspension, taking to the air on the many hills of Golden Gate City, and they lovingly recreate those shots in his video.
3 – I’m on fire – Bruce Springsteen (Ford Thunderbird)
Even if this article hadn’t been about Ford vehicles in music videos, I might still have found the opportunity to mention this song and its video because it’s an absolute legend. The song itself is a stripped down, stripped down number that showcases Springsteen’s vocals and lyrics more than anything else. But the video is 1980s perfection; at a time when most music videos were still simple and little more than advertisements for a band, this was a short cinematic marvel that told a story.
Throughout it all, the focus is on a classic Ford Thunderbird which symbolizes the desire between our protagonist (The Boss himself) and an invisible woman. There’s a will-they/won’t-they energy to the video that matches the wistful, nostalgic nature of this lovely little ballad, and it all fits together perfectly. The simple nature of the song allows us to focus on the visuals, and the Thunderbird becomes more than just a car: it’s a vehicle for all the lustful potential of youth and the possibilities that come with it. It’s a narration that cannot exist in any other medium because it makes perfect use of what a music video can be; to like!
4 – Hot for the Professor – Van Halen (Ford Hi-Boy Phaeton)
This video goes… another way. Cinematic potential and storytelling aside, we have a video that exists for one purpose: what we might affectionately call teenage fan service. Is this a good video? It’s largely subjective, and I’m not about to try to defend it, but it certainly spoke to Van Halen’s core audience of young people, especially teenagers.
So why is he here? The final sequence presents a superb Ford Phaeton which brings home the final image of everything rock n’ roll generally stands for. The video is absurd, over the top, and leaves the subtlety so far behind that you can’t even see the “y” in the word from the side mirrors of this magnificent machine. Sure, it’s only in one scene, but it leaves an impression beyond the video’s more obvious visual lust.
5 – Sabotage – Beastie Boys (Ford Crown Victoria)
Where Sheryl Crow offered a simple, stylistic homage to Steve McQueen movies, without doing much beyond the surface, the Beastie Boys went so much further in their video for Sabotage. Straight from legendary music video pioneer and filmmaker Spike Jonze, the video for Sabotage is somehow as good, if not better, than the song itself. That means something because this song is, always has been and always will be absolutely amazing (even though people keep cramming it into movies, TV shows and movie trailers where it hasn’t her place – stop her!).
The video, however, is a love letter to 1970s film and television, especially shows like Starsky and Hutch, Baretta, and Hawaii Five-O. These shows had amazing opening credits sequences that highlighted some insane action that would make you want to watch the rest of the episode, and if there was a show that this video was a trailer for, I would watch it all day every day. This video is iconic, and the use of a Ford Crown Victoria – complete with roof lights – is the vintage frosting to perfectly complement the overall aesthetic and theme of this delicious cake.
6 – Dragula – Rob Zombie (Ford Model T)
Let’s be clear on one thing: Rob Zombie is as much, if not more, of a movie and TV nerd as he is a heavy metal pioneer. Right from the start, with White Zombie, his music has included audio clips and snippets from science fiction, horror, and all sorts of genres. The eponymous “Dragula” in this song is the Munster Koach from the TV series The Munsters, which Zombie (and many of us) grew up on.
Is he just riding a bike in the song or riding around in a van throughout the clip? No, he races with crazy images projected on a green screen while driving the legendary Dragula himself, which is a highly modified Ford Model T, or rather parts of several Model Ts, all put together in one monster Frankenstein automobile. Fits, really, and the video is a fantastic reminder of Zombie’s love for mixing metal with horror iconography.
7 – Give Me All Your Love – ZZ Top (Ford “Eliminator”)
The Eliminator, what more can I say!? This car was such an icon of 1980s rock music that it graced the cover of two different ZZ Top albums, was used in their videos, and became as much a part of their image as their long beards. I could choose several different videos featuring the legendary Ford Eliminator, but this one is a great choice because it opens with the car and acts as a vehicle to move the action throughout 4:36 of glory 80s rock.
This video is simple, straight forward and just plain fun – a “guy” fantasy that played perfectly in the early years of MTV and made ZZ Top a fixture of the 80s and 90s teens. On top of that , this car is absolutely beautiful; there’s a good reason he’s so iconic, and his use in the band’s videos is just part of that. A lot of people think it helped start a new renaissance in appreciation for classic hot rods, and I’d be hard pressed to argue with them. The legendary Eliminator himself can be seen at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland – I assure you, it’s just as glorious in person. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to listen to Sabotage about seventy-five more times because I, too, am Buddy Rich when I fly.