Remember when MTV played music videos and VH1 also played videos, but MTV was cool, and VH1 was the lame channel for your parents? Then MTV stopped playing videos and turned into Real World and Road Rules all the time–then some weird amalgamation of Real World/Road Rules that was really a game show? At which point, we all started watching VH1 because it still played videos, and sure there were pop-up factoids half the time, but at least there was still music and videos to enjoy! Anyways, let’s look at some music videos that featured Ford vehicles because this is a blog about cars, and I need to pretend that my elaborate flashback to my childhood and adolescence is in some way car-related to keep my editors happy. Roll out!
1 – I Drive Your Truck – Lee Brice (Ford F-100)
I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a huge country music fan, and there’s certainly no shortage of country songs about 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 to accept them being gone.
The truck in question, at least in the video, is an older Ford F-100, which went the way of the unnamed subject of the song when the F-150 proved more popular. Sure, the song is definitely a non-stop appeal to emotion that’s beyond cliché, but I’m sure it also speaks to people and how each of us deals with loss. Whether it connects with you or not, you have to admit the truck in the video looks great, and someone has clearly put some love into it.
2 – Steve McQueen – Sheryl Crow (Ford Mustang)
Certainly not Sheryl Crow’s strongest song, this was nevertheless a great excuse to recreate some of the car chase imagery from McQueen’s classic film Bullitt. Bullitt features one of the best car chases ever put to film, including racing through San Francisco in an iconic Ford Mustang GT fastback. Released in 1968, Bullitt benefits from an absolute lack of computer-generated wizardry that ruins so many modern car chase sequences–every moment of the chase is real, practical, and has weight to it in a way that gets lost these days.
Sheryl Crow’s video isn’t a shot-for-shot remake or anything, but they recreate a lot of classic shots and images from the film. Ultimately, it’s about capturing the look and feel of the McQueen classic, and it ties into the lyrics of the song. Crowe sings “I gotta fly like Steve McQueen,” something that happens numerous times as he tortures his suspension, catching air on the many hills of the Golden Gate City, and they lovingly recreate those shots in her 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 an opportunity to mention this song and its video because it’s an absolute legend. The song itself is a stripped-down, barebones number that showcases Springsteen’s voice 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 commercials for a band, this was a short piece of cinematic wonder that actually told a story.
Throughout it all, the focus is on a classic Ford Thunderbird that symbolizes the desire between our protagonist (The Boss himself) and an unseen woman. There’s a will-they/won’t-they energy to the video that matches the wistful, yearning nature of this lovely little ballad, and everything just comes together perfectly. The simple nature of the song lets us focus on the visuals, and the Thunderbird becomes much more than a simple car: it is a vehicle for all of the lustful potential of youth and the possibilities that come with it. This is storytelling that can’t exist in another medium because it perfectly utilizes what a music video can be; love it!
4 – Hot for Teacher – Van Halen (Ford Hi-Boy Phaeton)
This video goes…another way. Putting aside cinematic potential and storytelling, we have a video that exists for a single purpose: what we might lovingly refer to as teenage fan service. Is it a good video? That’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 teenage boys.
So why is it here? The final sequence features a stunning Ford Phaeton that drives home the final image of everything rock n’ roll typically represents. The video is absurd, over the top, and leaves subtlety so far behind that you can’t even see the “y” in the word from the side mirrors of this gorgeous piece of machinery. Sure, it’s only in a single scene, but it leaves an impression beyond the more-obvious visual lechery of the video.
5 – Sabotage – Beastie Boys (Ford Crown Victoria)
Where Sheryl Crow offered a simple, stylistic homage to the films of Steve McQueen, without doing much beyond the surface level, the Beastie Boys went so much further in their video for Sabotage. Directly by legendary music-video pioneer and filmmaker Spike Jonze, the video for Sabotage is somehow just as good, if not even better, than the song itself. That’s saying 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 film trailers where it doesn’t belong–stop it!).
The video, however, is a love letter to 1970s film and TV, especially shows like Starsky and Hutch, Baretta, and Hawaii Five-O. These shows had amazing opening-credits sequences that highlighted insane action guaranteed to make you want to watch the rest of the episode, and if there was a show that this video was a trailer for, I’d watch it all-day every-day. This video is iconic, and the use of a Ford Crown Victoria–complete with roof light–is the vintage icing to perfectly top the overall aesthetic and theme of this delicious cake.
6 – Dragula – Rob Zombie (Ford Model T)
Let’s get one thing very clear: Rob Zombie is just as much, if not more, of a film and TV nerd as he is a heavy metal pioneer. From the very beginning, with White Zombie, his music has included audio clips and samples from TV and films in sci-fi, horror, and all kinds of genres. The eponymous “Dragula” of this song is the Munster Koach from The Munsters TV series, which Zombie (and many of us) grew up on.
Does he just bicycle around in the song or cruise about in a pickup throughout the music video? No–he races about with insane imagery projected onto a green screen while driving the legendary Dragula itself, which is a highly modified Ford Model T–or rather parts of several Model Ts all put together into an automotive Frankenstein’s monster. Fitting, really, and the video is a fantastic reminder of Zombie’s love for blending metal with horror iconography.
7 – Gimme All Your Lovin’ – ZZ Top (Ford “Eliminator”)
The Eliminator, what more needs to be said!? 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 that featured the legendary Ford Eliminator, but this one is a great pick because it opens with the car, and it acts as a vehicle to move the action throughout 4:36 of ’80s rock glory.
This video is simple, to the point, and just plain fun–a “guy” fantasy that played perfectly in the early years of MTV and made ZZ Top an integral part of ’80s and ’90s adolescence. On top of that, this car is absolutely gorgeous; there’s a good reason it’s so iconic, and its use in the band’s videos is only part of that. A lot of people feel it helped kick-start a new renaissance of appreciation for classic hot rods, and I’d have a hard time arguing with them. The legendary Eliminator itself can be seen at Cleveland’s Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame–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 off the handle.