Life Is a Highway

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"Life Is a Highway"
Life Is a Highway Tom Cochrane.jpg
Single by Tom Cochrane
from the album Mad Mad World
ReleasedSeptember 20, 1991[1]
Recorded1990
Genre
Length4:26
LabelCapitol
Songwriter(s)Tom Cochrane
Producer(s)
  • Tom Cochrane
  • Joe Hardy
Tom Cochrane singles chronology
"Sail On"
(1976)
"Life Is a Highway"
(1991)
"No Regrets"
(1991)

"Life Is a Highway" is an original song by Tom Cochrane, from his 1991 album Mad Mad World. The song was Cochrane's most famous song, becoming a number one hit in his native Canada. The song also peaked at number six on the Billboard charts in the United States in 1992. The song has been covered by Rascal Flatts for the Cars soundtrack, as well as by Chris LeDoux, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Home Free.

Background[edit]

Cochrane has stated that "Life Is a Highway" was originally conceived in the 1980s as "Love is a Highway" while he was still a member of Red Rider, but was shelved at that time because he felt the unfinished song was unusable.[3]

Following a trip with his family to Eastern Africa with the World Vision famine relief organization, Cochrane revisited the song on the advice of his friend John Webster, an instrumentalist on the Mad Mad World album. In a 2017 interview with The Canadian Press to mark the song's 25th anniversary, Cochrane said Webster encouraged him to revisit the demo recording, which at that point only had mumbled vocals and improvised lyrics, but not the song's well-known chorus. "(The song) became a pep talk to myself... saying you can’t really control all of this stuff, you just do the best you can," he says.[3] Eventually the original demo version was released on the 25th-anniversary reissue of Mad Mad World under the original title "Love is a Highway".

Cochrane says he was trying to unpack the poverty he witnessed on his trip, which he found "shocking and traumatic". He later said the uptempo spirit of the song came from looking for something positive to "hang the experience on."[3]

Most of the vocals on the track were recorded in Cochrane's small home studio.[3]

The song was Cochrane's only Top 40 hit in the United States. In Canada, three other singles from the album charted.[citation needed]

Charts[edit]

Music video[edit]

The original video for "Life Is a Highway" was produced by Albert Botha, who went on to line produce two films for Saturday Night Live: Superstar starring Molly Shannon and The Ladies Man starring Tim Meadows. The video was shot in Alberta's Badlands, near the town of Drumheller. Many of the shots are in familiar locations along the Dinosaur Trail, including Cochrane playing guitar amid the Hoodoos and the couple, Kait Shane and Brennan Elliott, running around the car while it rides the Bleriot Ferry across the Red Deer River. It also has an older man (gas station attendant), a couple (tall man, short wife), and two women (Jacqueline and Joyce Robbins) from an Anabaptist religious order (Alberta has a population of Hutterites). The car which is featured in the music video is a 1965 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport. The video is notable for depicting Cochrane holding a Fender Telecaster which he never plays.

The plot for the video is a pastiche of the 1991 Canadian dark comedy, Highway 61. The song was originally offered by Capitol Records to the film's director, Bruce McDonald, to use in the film. McDonald declined the offer, saying the song was "too poppy".[citation needed]

The Family Guy episode "The Woof of Wall Street" features a few clips of the video throughout the episode.

It featured in The Office episode "Employee Transfer" with the characters singing along to it throughout the episode.

Rascal Flatts version[edit]

"Life Is a Highway"
Single by Rascal Flatts
from the album Me and My Gang and Cars: The Soundtrack
ReleasedJune 6, 2006
FormatDigital download
Recorded2006
Genre
Length4:36
Label
Songwriter(s)Tom Cochrane
Producer(s)Dann Huff
Rascal Flatts singles chronology
"Me and My Gang"
(2006)
"Life Is a Highway"
(2006)
"My Wish"
(2006)

In 2006, American country band Rascal Flatts recorded a cover of this song for the Pixar animated film Cars, which was released on June 9, 2006. The song sold a large quantity of digital downloads, leading to a number seven peak on the Billboard Hot 100 (one position lower than the Tom Cochrane original). In addition, the cover was placed as a bonus track on later versions of the album Me and My Gang, and also was included on their Greatest Hits Volume 1. This version also won the "Favorite Song from a Movie" award at the 33rd People's Choice Awards.

The instrumental of the Rascal Flatts' cover version was prominently featured in the Top Gear: US Special, which aired February 11, 2007. The song is included on the soundtrack for Lego Rock Band. It topped the two million mark in paid downloads as of the chart dated March 28, 2009.[16] As of March 2013, the song has sold over three million copies in the US.[17] On July 14, 2015, Scott Walker, Republican Governor of Wisconsin, launched his presidential campaign as Republican Party nominee in Waukesha, Wisconsin using the song. Cochrane requested that it not be used again.

Music video[edit]

The music video portrays the three band members pulling into a drive-in theater driving three vintage vehicles. The cars allude to three characters from the movie: Lightning McQueen, Doc Hudson and Mater. As the projector rolls, scenes from the Disney/Pixar movie Cars are shown as the band plays through the number. It was directed by Shaun Silva.

Charts[edit]

The Rascal Flatts version subsequently became a hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it peaked at number seven. Even though it was not officially released to country radio, many country stations played the song as an album cut, overlapping with their then-current country single "My Wish". The unsolicited country airplay brought "Life Is a Highway" to number 18 on the US Hot Country Songs chart. The song has sold 3.4 million copies in the US as of June 2016.[18]

Chris LeDoux version[edit]

In 1998, Chris LeDoux covered "Life Is a Highway" for his album One Road Man. The song is one of LeDoux's most popular. Changes include the intro to the song, the timing of vocal entrances on the chorus, and location names between the first and second chorus.

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song takes place on multiple roads and highways as well as a blue and red static themed room. When on roads and highways, there is a chance for LeDoux to appear on a television that is sitting on a sidewalk or grass, however, while the background behind LeDoux (that appears on the TV) is the same background as everything behind the TV itself, LeDoux does not appear to be standing behind the TV. In most locations, LeDoux is walking down a road as at the start of the music video. The video ends with LeDoux signing the chorus while appearing on a flap-down TV inside of someone's car, then transitioning to LeDoux being once again in the static room and then walking out of it. After LeDoux leaves the room, the screen slowly fades to black and the video ends.

Other covers[edit]

In 2007, Alvin and the Chipmunks covered the song for their video game Alvin and the Chipmunks, which also appeared in the 2011 video game Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.[22] In 2012, VeggieTales released a cover of the song on their album, Bob & Larry Go Country.[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Amazon
  2. ^ a b "Tom Cochrane - Life Is a Highway". AllMusic.com.
  3. ^ a b c d Friend, David (January 5, 2017). "Tom Cochrane reflects on success of 'Life is a Highway'". The Toronto Star/The Canadian Press.
  4. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Tom Cochrane – Life Is a Highway". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  5. ^ "Musicline.de – Tom Cochrane Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  6. ^ "Charts.nz – Tom Cochrane – Life Is a Highway". Top 40 Singles.
  7. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Tom Cochrane – Life Is a Highway". Singles Top 100.
  8. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Tom Cochrane – Life Is a Highway" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  9. ^ "Tom Cochrane Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  10. ^ "Tom Cochrane Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  11. ^ "Tom Cochrane Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard.
  12. ^ "Tom Cochrane Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard.
  13. ^ "RPM 100 Hit Tracks of 1991". RPM. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  14. ^ "End of Year Charts 1992". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  15. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1992". Archived from the original on 2009-07-08. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
  16. ^ "Week Ending March 15, 2009: The Idol With The Most". Chart Watch. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  17. ^ Grein, Paul (March 20, 2013). "Week Ending March 17, 2013. Songs: The Great Chart Robbery Of 2013". Yahoo News Chart Watch. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  18. ^ Bjorke, Matt (June 28, 2016). "Top 30 Digital Country Singles Report: June 28, 2016". Roughstock.
  19. ^ "Rascal Flatts Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  20. ^ "Rascal Flatts Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  21. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 Year-End 2006". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  22. ^ "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked". Official Website. Majesco Entertainment. Archived from the original on 13 March 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  23. ^ "iTunes.com". iTunes.com.

External links[edit]