I’ve been listening to Little Red Car Wreck for a long time now. Maybe seven or eight years? Still, they were something I didn’t discover until high school and, every now and then, I find myself rediscovering them.
A few days ago I was driving home late at night. It was dark and the traffic was bad because of night-time construction. My car was stopped on the highway and the song “Breaks” came on and it felt like I was hearing it for the first time.
I’m trying hard to think of the right way to describe how “Breaks” makes me feel — just the first few lines: The brakes on my car just went out, the brakes on my bicycle, too. The brakes on my heart just got up and walked out of the room. And my rollerskates, well, they didn’t have any to start with. (These lyrics are paraphrased because I cannot remember exactly how they go and there’s too much noise for me to hear the CD right now.)
Anyway, when I think about this song, I think about varying degrees of autonomy and control. I think of wishing that you had the means to spare yourself from something, but knowing that you are ultimately powerless.
“Crashing Cars” is simpler for me — I think of the friend who gave me a ride home through mose of my high school days, how she drove her sister’s beat up Chevy, a boombox duct-taped to the dashboard so that we could listen to music. I think of the years when it felt good and right to have so little and live so fully.
From an AllMusic review of Motor Like A Mother:
As one of the best — albeit one of the most unheard — debuts of the late ’90s, the album feels like one young woman’s coming-of-age diary of family, love, life, and adult responsibilities. These are songs of grocery shopping, roller skating, and dishwashing; these are songs of laundry, dirty diapers, and car seats. And while it may not sound very glamorous, that’s exactly the point. Motor Like a Mother chronicles with almost obsessive, and sometimes whimsical, detail the day-to-day routines and dreams of — as one song title states — a “Teenage Welfare Mother.” The result is an album that’s wise beyond Water’s years, a startlingly honest, impressive, and introspective look at life’s ups and downs, ins and outs. And, quite simply, it just may be the most compelling album of 1998.