(Excerpted from: The Walrus Most Likely Was RINGO: The Journal of Rock Deconstruction)
It has been observed elsewhere in these pages that Mr. Samuel “Sammy” Hagar’s “I Can't Drive 55” might be restated more accurately as: “I Am, As of This Writing, Currently Too Unmotivated or Underincentivized to Even Consider Driving 55.” But what of a central point implicit in this seemingly straightforward proclamation (some have argued manifesto)? That is, that the speed of Mr. Hagar's vehicle could, if put to the test in a controlled environment (perhaps in a wind tunnel — which could be employed in pushing Mr. Hagar’s vehicle forward — or, perhaps, by coating Mr. Hagar’s vehicle with hand lotion or another such easily obtained lubricant and placing the aforementioned vehicle into some manner of currently theoretical “race car vacuum”), very well attain and measurably, if briefly, maintain a speed of 55 miles per hour.
However, this point brings with it the logical extrapolation, unsettling as it is to consider: What about speeds above 55 miles per hour? (A quick note in, so to speak, passing: In this hypothetical pursuit of 56 or even higher [!] speeds, Mr. Hagar would be compelled to drive, if briefly, 55 — and by extension 0 through 54 miles per hour, too, if in fact, one can drive at 0 miles per hour. That said, it must be noted here that Hagar’s manifesto does not, explicitly, address any speeds lower than 55 — clearly, an area for additional study.) Unfortunately, however, our very theoretical “over-55” scenario does not consider a much more likely reality, in which Mr. Hagar, wishing to, or perhaps only desperately fantasizing about, driving 55, finds it an impossibility, as he currently is the owner of an uninsured '84 Corolla with a ruptured head gasket.
And yet: what, one posits, might this lyric reveal when given a deeper, contextual reading? As has been suggested by Dr. A. Cooper (Encyklopedia and Konkordanth of Satanic Metal, Vol. 11, p.666, note 13), might there be another, subtler, hidden, darker, unceasing, and unrelenting meaning behind Mr. Hagar's seemingly straightforward statement? A meaning that would, in short, redefine the very words “can't,” “drive,” and “55” — the last, admittedly, a numeral? Could it be, as Dr. Cooper puts forward, that Mr. Hagar's lyric concerns the crypto-Jungian "game" of golf?
Consumed by an unnamed creeping dread
While I am not in complete agreement with Cooper's reading — is Mr. Hagar, a burly and robustly fluffy-haired gentleman with sizable forearms really unable to drive a tiny golf ball a mere 55 yards? — the thesis does suggest a more likely interpretation of this lyric than that commonly held. I conditionally accept Dr. Cooper's theory, but, in addition, posit that Mr. Hagar, consumed by an unnamed creeping dread, finds it an impossibility to impose his ego upon a self-directed activity that represents his “Life Journey” (see S. Perry, N. Schon, “No, Please, No, Not the Non-Turning Wheel!”: MOR/AOR Review, April 1, 2015). In this way, Mr. Hagar's golfing — and, implicitly, Dr. Cooper's, too — serves as a metaphor of a postmodern entropy. Mere speculation, perhaps, but consider: Does Mr. Hagar — as noted, a stocky, even chunky, man — find the evening hours slipping away as he consumes box after box after box of vanilla sandwich creme cookies? The suggestion is: Yes. Yes, he does. Meanwhile, his Corolla, a symbol of inertia, puddles his driveway with a fluid that looks very much like bloody semen. The steady crunch-crunch-crunch of masticated cookie swells in Mr. Hagar’s ears, drowning out a world of Sunday afternoon golf programs that care very little for such proclamations as “I Cannot — Or, Perhaps, Am Merely Disinclined To, Or, Yes, All Right, Fine, Am Too Terribly Frightened To — Drive 55!”
While examining this subtle text (with, I must admit, occasional cries of, "More specificity, please, Mr. Hagar, more specificity!") I found myself looking deeply, as Joseph Conrad so very neatly phrased it, “into the very heart of darkness.”