The Allman Brothers Band

Music and the Road

Certain music can lull reflexes on the road

Tom Greenwood

29 April 2004, The Detroit News
(c) Copyright 2004, The Detroit News. All Rights Reserved.

Could some music be dangerous to your driving health? Maybe so, according to a group of Canadian scientists that has concluded that certain types of music shouldn’t be played while behind the wheel because it just gets us too worked up.

Instead of paying attention to the road, we’re amping up the CD player, tapping our foot on the gas pedal, and we end up boogie-in’ down the road because, doggone it all, “we’ve got the music in us.”

According to the scientists, music that is played too loudly also impacts our reaction time, because we’re distracted by all those decibels ricocheting around the car.

The louder the music, the faster our hearts beat and our blood pressure starts to spike. The study showed that it didn’t matter if the music was opera, country western, rap or techno; it’s the beat that counts.

The RAC Foundation, a road safety group out of London, England, has compiled a list of the most dangerous-while-driving tunes. Researchers also compiled a list of mellow music ? the kind that calms and soothes while driving.

I was surprised by the foundation’s choices, first reported by CBS news and the Associated Press. You might be, too.

The number one piece of mad music not to listen to while driving? Shades of “Apocalypse Now,” it was Richard Wagner’s 19th century classic “Ride of the Valkyries.” Just listening to it is enough to make you want don a horned helmet and invade Ohio.

The second overly revved up tune was the “Dies Irae” from Giuseppe Verdi’s “Requiem,” followed ? finally ? by some 21st century music, including “Firestarter” by the Prodigy; “Red Alert” by Basement Jaxx; and “Insomnia” by Faithless.

On the flip side, the RAC Foundation listed the five best tunes for calming the savage beast, including: “Come Away With Me” by Nora Jones; “Mad World” by Gary Jules; “Another Day” by Lemar; “Too Lost in You” by The Sugababes; and “Breathe Easy” by Blue.

What? Nothing by Anne Murray or The Great Speckled Bird?

I have to admit that there are certain songs that will work me up or cool me down, depending on where I’m going. If I’m heading to the U.P. for the weekend, I’m blasting “One Way Out” by the Allman Brothers or “An Ordinary Man” by the Swanky Modes.

For the long ride home, it’s most anything by the Mamas and Papas or Eva Cassidy. I’ll bet you’re the same way. Contact me with a short list of the music that brings out the beauty and the beast in you and we’ll share it in an upcoming column.

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