Behind the wheel on a road trip, as I was earlier this week to St. Petersburg, I'm suddenly thrust into a scene from Jerry Maguire: There I am, as Tom Cruise, singing along with "Free Fallin' " or some other ridiculous piece of music I have no business belting out at 11.
So what's involved in these Interstate love songs? Are there rules that govern the customs and etiquette of such outbursts?
Or am I just unnaturally attracted to the chorus of "High Time" by the Grateful Dead, the song that crept into my head this week?
Here are a few theories:
* Pick a good song. Ballads can work, but fast songs are recommended. "Born to be Wild," the ultimate poster child of the hit-the-road-wind-in-your-hair genre, is an old-school rocker.
* Be alone. Yeah, Farley and Spade sang together in Tommy Boy, but that's the exception to the rule. Most people would never subject themselves to such embarrassment in front of a passenger. P.S.: Always beware of the shocked gazes of passing motorists. A real buzz-kill.
P.P.S.: Don't expect the kids to put down the iPod and join in. The generation gap is wide between the front and back seats.
* Keep it on the road. Any respectable mobile rock star knows that songs about being on the road are always winners: "Radar Love," by Golden Earring; "Take It Easy" by the Eagles, and "Goin' Back to Cali" by LL Cool J would all qualify. Of course, almost any Chuck Berry song -- from "Maybelline" to "No Particular Place to Go" -- has something to do with a car.
* Take some expert advice. Rolling Stone has a list of Top 25 road songs. The Top 5: "Immigrant Song," by Led Zeppelin; "Born to Run," Bruce Springsteen; "Highway to Hell," AC/DC; "Runnin' Down a Dream," Tom Petty; and "Truckin'," by the Grateful Dead. Visit OrlandoSentinel.com/soundboard to see it and add your favorite.
Jim Abbott can be reached at jabbott@orlando sentinel.com or 407-420-6213.