’90s Song of the Week: “Drive” by Incubus

Sometimes I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear. And I can’t help buy ask myself how much I’ll let the fear take the wheel and steer. -Brandon Boyd, “Drive”

My CD is long lost to the sands of time...and irresponsibility.

My CD is long lost to the sands of time…and irresponsibility.

I cannot accurately depict the extent to which I was obsessed with this song during my junior year of college. Let’s just say if “Drive” was a woman, I probably would have been arrested and brought up on stalking charges. “Drive” was the biggest single off Make Yourself, which was released in October of 1999 and therefore juuuust qualifies for this list.

It must have felt like the whole ’90s Song of Week thing went away for good, and I suppose it did. I remembered it off-and-on during the winter break but never found the time to write a piece. It’s also entirely likely that I wouldn’t have written another in this installment had it not been for a series of events that started with stumbling upon an advertisement for two Incubus shows at the Republik in March. I bought the tickets this morning, Lynnette and I are going.

Kaka'ako, 2011.

Kaka’ako, 2011.

I have seen Incubus three times. I saw them during my senior of college at the Universal Amphitheater, at the Waikiki Shell in the spring of 2008, and most recently at Kaka’ako in the fall of 2011. I’ve moved closer to the stage every time, but it’s going to be pretty tough to top that last one, obviously. It’s strange. I can’t say I had completely given up  on live music, but I’ve been pretty close. Both Toad the Wet Sprocket and the Gin Blossoms played shows here in the last couple of years, and both times no one wanted to go with me. And honestly, I haven’t really thought about music in a while. All of a sudden, though, I am excited for this show. Is it Incubus I am excited for? Or is it nostalgia for myself? You know, the guy that used to really give a shit about music! It’s probably the latter because as soon as I saw Incubus would be playing dates here, I headed to their homepage to check if they were touring in support of a new album. They are not. I was excited. Maybe this would be a “greatest hits” show, which I would love because I am old. More research, however, revealed that they’re planning to release up to two albums in 2015, so we’ll probably get an earful of that.

It’s easy to take the driving metaphor, the references to uncertainty and the future, and that awesome chorus and assume the song is simply about taking control of one’s life as opposed being motivated primarily by fear. But it’s not that simple; the song’s core is a paradox. Despite the fact that the first verse makes it appear as if uncertainty is the antagonist, holding the wheel and driving never really makes the uncertainty go away. “Whatever tomorrow brings, I’ll be there, with open and arms and open eyes,” Brandon Boyd (probably shirtless) sings during the aforementioned chorus. He still has no idea what is going to happen, but he’s learning to embrace that idea rather than run from it. Essentially, the song argues that the only way to take control of your life is by accepting the fact that you have no control over any of it, to stop worrying about it.

This song concerns itself with the future and fittingly, the future was my initial relationship with Incubus. I looked forward to Morning View (2001) and A Crow Left of the Murder (2004). But then Light Grenades (2006) underwhelmed me and I didn’t even buy If Not Now, When? (2011). I know now that it wasn’t Incubus, it was me. I guess as far as Incubus  – and any other band – is concerned, I don’t care what tomorrow brings – unless it’s bringing yesterday.

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