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Driving with Music: The Purest Way to Enjoy?

Listening to music in the car

Where I’m from, in suburban Michigan, we are surrounded by car culture. I’m referring to Metro-Detroit, on the outskirts of the socio-economically diverse territory referred to by many as the Motor City, where every kid is driving by 16, and for a business to not offer a parking lot is to effectively shun most potential customers. The place is simply conducive for cars; it was engineered around drivers. Due to the spread-out nature of suburbs, the average driving time there, in contrast to that in the city, is probably the same. You just end up traveling 5-10x the distance in the ‘burbs. This amounts to the average driver getting a lot of ‘whip time’, all the while forming a close connection with their vehicle.

The most integral part of the automotive experience? The music, of course. I myself wasn’t able to start curating car music, or even paying that much attention to it for that matter until I felt confident that I could do so without driving into a telephone pole, but it soon after became a sizable part of my life. Feeling the various, subtle road sensations, the gas pedal bending to my (foot’s) every whim, while a song which I’m feeling pulses through the stereo became a daily endorphin-rush. I eagerly sought after it during my commute to, and from, high school. Also, if you’re like me, you might also start speeding when your favorite song plays without realizing it at first.

How a certain song, or body of work, sounded in my car became one of the primary ways I would measure how much I liked the work itself. Yeah, sure, I’d download a song which I heard first on my laptop speakers, give it a whirl in my earbuds, but still, I was, and am, always most stoked to give it the ‘driving test’. Producers such as Noah “40” Shebib have even alluded to occasionally mixing and mastering certain tracks with the aim of optimizing them for car stereos.

Think I’m crazy? Take it up with the scientific method. A study conducted in 2012 and published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that music successfully maintained mood while driving, and that people, while driving, often seek to reinforce, or to alter their mood by turning on music. It was also found, however, that listening to music can affect one’s performance while driving so enjoy, but please, head bang responsibly.

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