When we brought home Addie, the newest canine member of the family, we didn’t realize we now had a dog who loved to go for rides. Good old Rusty didn’t appreciate riding in automobiles at all. I don’t know if it was a matter of getting car sick or if he always believed we were finally taking him back to the shelter, just as he’d always feared, but Rusty sat dejectedly in the backseat with “his nose in the corner,” as Mom always put it. He did this even when he knew we were going to the park for a walk. I wasn’t used to that. Usually our dogs were manic to get to go for rides.
In Addie, though, we discovered a true ride enthusiast. In fact, for the first month or so, she got excited every time I put on my coat, even though I had no intention of taking her anywhere.
When I was about to take her out, I’d look down at her eager, hopeful face and say, “Would you like to ride in the car, car?” Even when I said it, I wasn’t sure where it had come from. Anyone within hearing distance, from Mom to Diamondqueen to the Hooligans, would say, “Really? The car, car? Why are you talking like that to her?”
I had a sense that I’d heard the song recently, probably on the online folk station I played sometimes while I was working. The fact that no one else knew the song, though, made me begin to doubt. Had I spun that term out of nothing?
Then, on Wednesday night, Mom and I were watching Woody Guthrie at 100! Live at the Kennedy Center on PBS. Donovan appeared on stage and said he was going to sing one of Guthrie’s children’s songs. I saw the title “Riding in My Car” and turned to Mom with delight. “I’ll bet this is the ‘car, car’ song!” I declared jubilantly.
And it was. However, I’m totally ashamed I didn’t know this was a Woody Guthrie song and that it’s so well known. When I searched on YouTube, I discovered covers by Springsteen, Dylan, and Pete Seeger (which might be the rendition I’d heard on the folk channel) as well as numerous videos, animations, and renditions of all kinds. The one I’m sharing with you here is an animation of a picture book version of the song. It features dogs in a car, which is so appropriate. That’s Woody Guthrie singing the soundtrack.
So now when I tell Addie, “Want to go in the car, car?” I know I’m not nuts. (There are plenty of other reasons to question my sanity, but at least this one is resolved.) And now that I know the song, I can actually sing it to her.
Only when we’re actually going for a ride, though. If Addie heard the first line, she’d be up like a shot, wiggling with joy and raring to go.