Today we continue our series of posts that feature the exclusive premiere of video from GSW’s reunion shows in 2010, lovingly shot and put together by our pal Mike Wren. As with our last posts, God Street Wine guitarist Lo Faber tells the tale of the song in the video. Here’s Lo’s take on Who’s Driving as well as the video of GSW performing the tune at the Gramercy Theatre on July 10, 2010.
Who’s Driving by Lo Faber
The year was 1991, George Bush I was President, Silence of the Lambs was Best Picture, and five guys were making the daring leap from New York City bar band to full time touring band. We moved from various NYC apartments and jobs to a big, ramshackle house in Ossining, an hour to the north, and began booking as many gigs as we could. The shows became farther away and more frequent, the overall hygiene level declined, the time spent in our white Chevy Sport Van increased dramatically, and the question of “Who’s Driving” was always of paramount importance.
[Photo by Mike Wren]
Our home life in Ossining was soon pervaded by an insecure, gnarly sort of spookiness. Late nights when we were home were spent in manic grudge-generating poker games or watching VHS tapes of “Twin Peaks” episodes. Sixteen different types of mustard occupied much of the refrigerator. Random girlfriends, acquaintances, and who-knows-who-that-is types were usually sleeping in various places (“Where’s that thin girl — practicing her magic tricks again?”) Personal possessions were jealously guarded and initialed with magic marker — no communal sharers we (“Who smoked all my cigarettes?”) Our possibly-mob-connected landlord poked around at odd hours (“Why is that man outside with a flashlight in his hand?”) There were snakes in the walls. There was a cat named Bob who tortured the house’s many mice for pleasure, until he became too fat to chase them. There was a little boy next door who hit Jon with a badminton racket.
There was always something to do, band-related, and often no clear sense of what was whose responsibility (“Did you make that phone call? Did you mail that package?”) There were tons of gigs, and when there was no gig there were tons of rehearsals — yet somehow it always felt that there was lots of bored time sitting around doing nothing. In spite of all this (or perhaps because of it) these were the years we really matured as a band and developed a sound and feel of our own, despite the some-might-say disgusting circumstances in which we lived. In particular we knew singing was a weak point and worked very hard, day after day, to improve our vocals.
Anyway, “Who’s Driving” is a song about those times, written during those times, which later (inevitably) became the title of a live album (which, oddly, does not include the song). Musically it’s a pretty simple bluesy shuffle, though I always love the Eb minor/major 7 chord at the start of the chorus. The outro (“we’re driving under bridges on fire”) was cannibalized from an unfinished song I’d had lying around for years, not sure what to do with; its exuberance seemed a nice counterpoint and release from the dark, unsettled, on edge vibe of the main part of the tune.