National Public Radio’s “Car Talk” is the sort of gearhead nirvana that draws listeners both serious and silly, so it’s no surprise that Fridley-based songwriter Joe Fahey has something of a bumper-music hit on his hands with his latest tune, “I Could Not Steal Her Heart (So I Stole Her Car)” (listen here). For the past few Saturday mornings, the public radio giant has been playing snippets of the wobbly country-rock song, which appears on Fahey’s new CD, “Bushnell’s Turtle,” set for release in January.
“It’s very exciting,” says Fahey, a graphic design artist, songwriter, husband, and father of two teenage sons. “I picked up some new fans from around the country for my mailing list, which appears to be 51-year-old white guys, and it got me a little more pumped up for the album release.
“The original inspiration was based on a new coworker who many of the guys seemed to develop an instant crush on for many various reasons. Least important was the fact that she drove a cool Saab, but it appeared to be a factor in this epidemic of yuppie love that was going on in the office.
“It got me thinking about writing a song about some guy, maybe a mild-mannered lawyer from Kenwood in an old Victorian house with tulip windows, fresh scones and NPR on the hi-fi. He has everything he wants but he can’t have the girl for various reasons and in some moment of desperation and love-induced madness, he steals her car in order to be close to her.”
Fahey started writing the song in the mid-‘90s, and finished it some 15 years later. Last winter he recorded seven songs in two hours with his longtime drummer Kraig Olmstead and bassist Mike Mahin (of Bottom Forty fame), and Fahey’s son Sean on guitar and Sean’s friend Mitch Ostwald on piano. Multi-instrumentalist David Stenshoel added fiddle to a few tunes, including “Stole Her Car.”
In July, Fahey sent the track to “Car Talk” associate producer David Greene. He never heard back, but a friend called Halloween weekend to say that he’d heard it. And why not? To be sure, it would be difficult for the cheeky “Car Talk” powers-that-be to resist a tune that rhymes “For god’s sake man I give my semi-annual contribution to NPR,” with “I could not steal her heart, so I stole her car.”
“It’s actually the second song I’ve written that ended up on ‘Car Talk,’ ” says Fahey. “The first was recorded with [Fahey’s band] Carp 18 with [Gear Daddies and Trailer Trash member] Randy Broughton on pedal steel. It’s called ‘Muscle Car Blues (Tell Me Another).’ It’s a long story of band breakups, depression and reunions, but it also ended up on their CD `Car Talk: Born Not to Run: More Disrespectful Car Songs.’
“It continues to be my most downloaded song and I’ve been getting royalty checks from BMI for the last couple years because it receives satellite radio airplay as well as being on in-flight entertainment of commercial airlines. I’m very grateful that some people enjoy my lyrics.”