The story behind Driving Me Crazy

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Driving Me Crazy is a mostly true story from my teenage days. I had a girlfriend named Terri (I changed her name in the song to Daisy to protect the rhyme scheme) who had an annoying habit of climbing in the car and immediately pushing the buttons on the radio looking for a song she wanted to listen to. When she found a suitable tune she’d start banging on the dashboard and singing (usually off key) at the top of her lungs. It drove me crazy. Right up until she’d reach over and put her hand on my leg. She was blonde, I was a teenage boy. It drove me another kind of crazy.

That’s the story IN the song. This is the story BEHIND the song. Where did the inspiration come from? Why did I chose to name my character Daisy? How do I explain to my wife that I’m writing songs about my ex-girlfriend?

After eight hours of driving we fell into bed for a few hours nap before starting our Saturday evening activities in Nashville (which often consisted of a beer and another nap). I was buzzing from a lack of sleep and an eight hour drive and started to doze off.

I don’t know where they came from but in my half-conscious twilight six words popped into my head: Dashboard Drumming, Air Guitar Strumming, Off-key Humming (okay maybe that’s seven words and hyphen). I didn’t know what the words meant. In fact I didn’t immediately remember them coming to me in my road-weary state. But I wrote them down. Back in the old days before I started yelling at kids to get off my grass I’d write my ideas down in an actual notebook using an actual pen. Now being a modern man I type them into my iPhone. I’ve learned inspiration comes to me at odd angles, in strange places and at unpredictable times so I write down these stray thoughts and figure out what they mean later.




Writing in my Nashville loft



A day or two later I was in my Nashville flat scrolling through my notebook for song ideas and found that odd collection of words: Dashboard Drumming, Air Guitar Strumming, Off-key Humming. I had only the vaguest memory of having written them and no idea what they meant. But they brought back a sudden memory of that old girlfriend and how she literally “pushed my buttons” every time we got in the car.




“Daisy” pushing my buttons



The song began falling in place pretty quickly after that, although no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get the name ‘Terri” to rhyme with my “hook”; Driving Me Crazy. However, the name ‘Daisy’ rhymes nicely with ‘crazy’ and comes with the added benefit of allowing me to use the line “driving Miss Daisy” (sorry Morgan Freeman (not sorry)).



The next challenge was getting the subject of my song (in this case “me”) to move forward, to evolve. He couldn’t spend the whole song going crazy over Daisy’s annoying habits (that would be too much like a real relationship and nobody wants to listen to a song about THAT!!!). Fortunately, I remembered my reaction way back then when Terry/Daisy reached out and touched me, driving me another kind of crazy. All I needed was a bridge in my song to help my subject/me move one more step forward and resolve the story. The bridge in my song has both Daisy and me climbing out of the car and “dancing in the headlights like some dirt road stars” … thus completing the story arc as we both go crazy.




In the studio recording “Driving Me Crazy”



I’ve always like “Driving Me Crazy”, enough so that I put it as the first cut on my first album: Unplug. I recorded the song at Jay’s Place Studio on music row. I wanted a “Keith Urban” feel and decided to use a rolling banjo under a driving rock beat. To round out the recording producer Jay Vern hired the fabulous Grammy Award winning Andrea Pearson to sing background harmonies on the track. Her breathless ‘huhhhs’ and ‘ahhhs’ perfectly represent the carefree and crazy Daisy of both my memory and my song.




Andrea Pearson taking notes for background vocals



I urge you to give “Driving Me Crazy” a listen. See if somewhere in your past (or present) there wasn’t someone who “drives you crazy” in more ways than one.




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