This weekend launches the unofficial start of summer, and it’s a fine time to contemplate not only the more somber aspects of what Memorial Day represents but also the joy of the coming season.

Swimming, sunshine, cookouts and driving with the windows down, maybe even the top off.

The automobile, on which many of us, particularly in Michigan, depend for our livelihoods, also tells a story about our culture, represents a sense of freedom (if they aren’t stuck in traffic) and often holds memories that we carry for our entire lives.

So in the spirit of the season, the Free Press, with suggestions from many staff members, offers a list of 24 songs for your consideration. You’ve heard some of these many times before, while others might not be on any car song lists you subscribe to. Either way, they showcase just a tiny sliver of the varied inspiration that cars elicit in this auto-centric world. Some contain explicit lyrics, so be aware if you’re listening with little ones nearby.

Beverly Bradley, Aretha Franklin's close friend, poses for a photo next to a pink Cadillac during the Aretha Franklin Memorial Highway dedication ceremony in Detroit on August 24, 2020. Scores of pink Cadillacs were on display for the Queen of Soul's funeral in 2018 to celebrate her song "Freeway of Love." Cadillacs also figure prominently in some key car songs.

We may do more of these lists. There are simply so many car and driving songs.

Don’t hate too much on the offerings you wouldn’t pick. Sometimes the unexpected detour ends up being a welcome diversion. Here you go:

‘Pink Cadillac’ (Bruce Springsteen)

Few cars have inspired the kind of adoration or provided the cultural symbol that the Cadillac has, and color has often played a role in the musical telling. Bruce Springsteen’s throwback classic from the 1980s not only showcases a fan favorite but offers a taste of temptation tied to a pink machine with crushed velvet seats.

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