Amidst all the hoopla about Vampire Weekend's torching of a pair of Saabs for their Diane Young video, and the band's subsequent apology to the Saab faithful, nobody mentioned one of the best uses of a Saab in a musical context in recent years — Peter Hughes' concept album Fangio. It's a collection of songs about racing legend Juan Manuel Fangio driving a 900 SPG across the Andes mountains to kill notorious Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. And that, frankly, is the most badass concept for an album in the history of human existence.
Hughes is currently with the indie-folk outfit the Mountain Goats, but in 2010 he put out a solo album featuring songs about the fictional, Saab-hooning, dictator-killing exploits of the five-time Formula One world champion. In addition to his music, Hughes is also a big car guy, who blogs about cars, says he learned who James Joyce was from famed British auto journalist L.J.K. Setright, and once participated in a Save Saab rally in Detroit with his 900 SPG.
That same 900 SPG stars in the music video for the Fangio album, which just happens to have been directed by Jalopnik alum Davey G. Johnson. I told you this guy was a badass!
Here's what he told me about that SPG:
"I can tell you that the car in the video is (still!) my daily driver, and one of the most brilliant cars I've ever driven. Although I have to say I've never really gotten the 900 convertible thing — for me what makes the 900 Turbo so special is having this car that is fast, handles, and can swallow a refrigerator. Take the hatch and fold-flat seat out of the equation and you just have a front-wheel-drive ragtop — it misses the whole point. in which case the VW video car is no great loss, even to me. Still, that was a perfectly good set of 16" super aeros I would've happily taken off their hands."
The video has been around for a while now, but I only recently got a chance to listen to the full album for the first time. I liked it a lot. Many of the songs sound kind of early New Order-y, which is never a bad thing.
My favorite is "El Hombre Mas Macho," an upbeat anthemic ode to Fangio drifting an SLR, leading at Monaco, presenting the Heisman Trophy to Marilyn Monroe and killing someone named "Escobar." I'm guessing it's Pablo Escobar, the notorious drug kingpin. Fangio was a force for justice after all.
Hughes had this to say about the Vampire Weekend video:
"Hey, I don't know those guys, I've got no beef with them personally. But what do you want me to say? They're Saab-burners. They'll answer for that someday. I almost feel sorry for them."
So if you're curious about the right way to use a Saab, check out the video. And Fangio is out there on iTunes, Spotify, and on vinyl. I enjoyed it. Maybe you will too.