Music Monday: The Chauffeur


To boldly go where you have not gone before!


I’ve always wanted to learn how to drive a stick shift. It’s a bucket list thing, but it’s on a special part of my bucket list that I call, “The practicals.” The practicals are skills that are more likely to become useful at some point, and being able to manipulate a clutch and the gears would arguably bear use at some point. I also like the added control it gives over the vehicle, and that comes from riding a bike.

As Mercury resumes forward motion, I recall some driving lessons I had in my father’s manual-drive car. And there’s one in particular: the downshift. Now, automatic transmissions sometimes do this on their own, but there’s something magical about getting on the highway, dropping a gear, and opening up onto fresh blacktop. I like to consider myself an environmentalist, but that’s a catharsis unlike any other.

I went on an audition today, which is like riding a bike at this time; it’s second nature to me at this point, which is a really cool place to be at in terms of artistry. But during the audition, there was a thing that clicked, and the only feeling that comes close is that of the highway downshift. In cinema, it’s illustrated when the image stretches long out forward and then we rush into it. Know what I mean?

I don’t really know where to start with this one. “The Chauffeur” is a song by Duran Duran, here covered by Kristy Hawkshaw under the direction of a cover director called Sleepthief and then remixed by Martin Preston. The original and the Sleepthief cover are both really good, but as I was sitting in the audition room, I couldn’t help but draw an analogue between the actor and the cover artist.

The music (that is, the script) is always the same. But when an artist covers something, they don’t try to sound like the original; otherwise Hawkshaw would never have a chance! The artist has to give a part of their self to the piece. Then you have a director, and a bunch of cover artists, and suddenly it’s Nirvana doing Hamlet—but not in space. Please, not in space…or Moscow…or just, couldn’t you do it in Denmark? In the past? Where it was set? But alas, I digress.

I like this remix. It’s funky, in a chill pop kind of way, but no more or less than the Hawkshaw cover. The synth is laid on a little heavy, but I think it’s justified. This one’s going on my solo practice playlist, for sure, particularly on those days where I need a pick-me-up.

I took a chance doing something bold today. And the skies were clear. Sometimes, I think Mercury rides in a beat up Buick. Sometimes, I think he flies on the fastest wings. But he doesn’t stop, even when he looks like he’s going backwards. Time must needs move forward, and while sometimes we are dragged, sometimes we’re riding on his shoulders. Today, I took a chance doing something bold, and I saw open skies. It won’t always be that way, but today it was.

And with an open road, I seem recall, there’s only one thing left to do:

Downshift, and let’s open it up.


Photo: piscochile