Long white man rock singer belting out a song into a mic with a blue and pink psychedelic background

I woke up today with what Devo would call an uncontrollable urge.

And the urge was urging...what?

To watch Downton Abbey?

No, grandma.

To learn the chords and lyrics to Carmen Ohio?

God, no. (There are lyrics?)

To send all my money to the Clinton Foundation so one person in Haiti might get at least a hamburger next week?

To paraphrase Adolf Hitler in Inglourious Basterds, "Nein, nein, nein, nein, nein" (I've counted the neins).

As I laid propped up on my three mismatching pillows, I eagerly dialed up on You Tube my guiltiest of pleasures: Deep Purple – the greatest British hard rock band of the '70s (Led Zeppelin being the worst) – and their 1972 or thereabouts live version of one of the greatest headbangers ever made. And I mean one of the two or three best ever, bubby.

No, not Smoke On The Water. Highway Star!

Deep Purple's rockin' fast ode to a dude's beloved fast car from the class 1972 Machine Head album is, I think, one of the most spectacularly overlooked and forgotten monster rockers of the ages and epochs of metal. It's like a six- minute Communication Breakdown but as a Death Race 2000 opera where the guy not only doesn't get the girl, he thinks his car is the girl:

Nobody gonna take my girl
I'm gonna keep her to the end
Nobody gonna have my girl
She stays close on every bend
Ooh she's a killing machine
She got everything
Like a moving mouth body control
And everything

But who listens to words? This song feels like one helluva hot pursuit through the Dukes of Hazzard countryside, its loin-liquifying pleasure of speed and control and danger as only a hormonally peaking young man can experience.

Perhaps it is the most macho song ever written. I will take it over Zep's Stairway To Heaven any day which after all is a song about heroin. Ten thousand 1973 prom themes so easily fooled.

Singer Ian Gillan howls as the king of his own slot-car racing league. No Ian Gillan? Then no Axl Rose. Robert Plant, eat your folkie Middle Earth hobbit of the shire heart out.

Gillan may own Highway Star but he shares the wealth.

Moody guitarist-in-black with goofball buckled Pilgrim hat, Ritchie Blackmore tasers suture-ensuing leads atop stolen Bach chord structures during the highly flammable instrumental breaks. Purple's progressive roots show their strength between Blackie and Hammond C-3 (not B-3) tilting genius Jon Lord make them spiritedly jousting knights of legend on Highway Star.

No Blackmore? No Yngwie Malmsteen. These cats can play. And the rhythm section?

The song hits 90 m.p.h. like a wild horse's ass on fire thanks to the cross-headed piston-powered rock'n'roll engine of Roger Glover on bass and Ian Paice on drums. Only AC/DC comes close to their two-stroke brute efficiency. Sabbath and Zep are cash-for-clunkers in comparison.

Nobody gonna get my car
I'm gonna race it to the ground
Nobody gonna beat my car
It'll break the speed of sound

So many ecstatically great things about this song. Life or death urgency. Blitzkreig attack. Haywire crossfire soloing. Genius changes and little niches of pure technique.

But the best is what passes for Gillan's unearthly howl of a chorus. It's like a mad man on meth screaming his devotion to his muse, his hydra-headed chemical mistress witch who's got him by the balls in his madness and he loves it. Gillan shrieks with liberation:

I love her! I need her!
I seed her!
Yeah she turns me on
Alright hold on tight
I'm a Highway Star

Least the feminist in you objects to the brief objectification of car and girl, that's just one verse and one chorus only. But of course if you believe a muscle car is an inanimate object there is nothing I can do for you. The other choruses reflect pre-morphing of auto into a gloriously mythical showroom trophy of wheels as woman:

I love it and I need it
I bleed it
It's like a wild hurricane

Pure passion is what the best rock'n'roll is about--and speed is a form of passion. Add sex and you've got Highway Star, quite possibly the horniest, craziest car song ever written.

Nobody gonna take my head
I got speed inside my brain
Nobody gonna steal my head
Now that I'm on the road again
Oooh I'm in heaven again
I've got everything
Like a moving ground an open road
I've got everything

All these backbreaking years later, and this song is my morning wood. I don't ever recall waking up with the Beach Boys on my mind.

But hey, I got the hell out of bed.

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