I’ve been thinking about the line “keep the car running” a lot lately, which prompted me to dust off this entry and post it. I almost think of it as motivation: keep going, keep moving, no matter what. The song itself talks about waking up from dreams. I’ve often tried to figure out the symbolism of the song, but that lyric at least make sense to me.
Arcade Fire has rock roots: you can hear it in the grinding of “Wake Up,” but The Foo Fighters cover of this song, of course, makes it rougher hewn. The drums are very clean, but David Grohl’s punk-rooted voice gives it an edge. If you think about it, even though he’s also singing that “every night my dream’s the same,” his dreams and his city might be different than what’s referenced in the Arcade Fire version. That’s the beauty of music, really: we all bring our own interpretation to songs.
One of my favorite parts of “Keep the Car Running” is the suspension right before the chorus, where there’s a shimmery noise (if you’ve read this blog long enough, you know how much I love shimmering songs) and then the lyrics kick back in. The shimmer is absent from the Foo Fighters version, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This makes the song seem more grounded, despite the atmospheric ennui of the lyrics: “The same place animals go when they die/You can’t climb across a mountain so high/The same city where I go when I sleep/You can’t swim across a river so deep.”
Of the two, I like the Arcade Fire version better; I guess I like shimmer too much! But I definitely appreciate what the Foo Fighters are bringing to the song, and the new angle they tease out.