May be a Monday but it feels like Friday: The hot pink mess of Ronnie Milsap’s “She Loves My Car”

By on June 24, 2019

In this mid-’80s “Take Off to Country” episode — which was re-broadcast during our syndication era in 1992, and you can now watch on Night Flight Plus — Night Flight’s Pat Prescott introduces us to handful of music videos by a few the decade’s top country acts.

Two of those videos are by blind piano playin’ adult contempo/country schlock superstar Ronnie Milsap, and one of those — the David Hogan-directed “She Loves My Car” — is probably one of the most 80s-est thing we’ve ever seen.

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“She Loves My Car” was one the very first country videos to get a smattering of decent airplay on rock-oriented MTV (Eddie Rabbitt broke the barrier before him in 1981, but this one was actually a much bigger dealio).

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We’re going to ask that you set aside any preconceived notions you might have about bland Urban Cowboy-esque ’80s country music and just ask you to bask in the bizarre hot pink mess of Milsap’s “She Loves My Car” video.

I mean, wtf, amiright?

You’ll no doubt recognize twenty-year old future TV actress Mariska Hargitay, a.k.a. Ms. “Olivia Margaret Benson” of NBC’s long-running police procedural “Law & Order: SVU.”

The zebraskin swimsuit-clad cutie-pie — already a former Miss Beverly Hills USA — was just about to make her first movie appearance in Ghoulies.

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You may also recognize Scott McGinnis (“Mr. Adventure” from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock), Hervé Villechaize, Rebecca Holder (“April Curtis” from TV’s “Knight Rider”), former Bond girl and ex-Slim Jim Phantom/Peter Sellers/Rod Stewart main squeeze Britt Ekland, and, whoa, that’s John Doe and Exene from X driving in a black Edsel driving down Pacific Coast Highway!

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Not to mention, there’s a moonwalking video vixen in high heels and socks, a break-dancin’ fool and oh so many other Eighties totems — lots of hairsprayed babes and padded-shoulder jackets with the sleeves pushed up, vintage cars, Milsap’s Ray-Bans, etc., etc. — that we’re pretty sure you’re going to have to watch “She Loves My Car” more than once.

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“She Loves My Car” was first recorded by smooth jazz icon Bobby Caldwell for his 1983 August Moon album.

Milsap’s 1984 version wasn’t one of his huge Eighties hits, topping out at just #84 on Billboard‘s Hot 100.

Still, let’s just pause for a sec and consider these genius lyrics (penned by Bill LaBounty and Roy Freeland):

“Drive all night up and down the highway,
May be a Monday but it feels like Friday,
I’m pushing faster, pulling her close
It doesn’t matter to her where we go
She loves my car, it’s just a machine
She loves my car, I wish she loved me… the way she loves my car”

Read more about Ronnie Milsap — and we made a lot of it up, by the way — below.

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Ronnie Milsap with Olivia Newton-John

Ronnie Milsap was born on January 16, 1944 — blind from birth from congenital glaucoma — and raised in Robbinsville, North Carolina, a rural mountain town situated at the foothills of the magnificent Smoky Mountains, where U.S. senators are known to euphemistically go “hiking the Appalachian Trail.”

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Milsap was raised by his father and his paternal grandparents after his parents’ divorce.

At an early age he’d developed such a heightened sense of smell that he often worked as a “hunting dog” for local sportsmen, replacing elderly hounds who’d lost their ability to successfully track edible forest creatures.

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A musical prodigy on piano, Milsap was already a musical virtuoso by age seven (among the instruments he played was the violin, but it was eventually set aside when he discovered he was allergic to the violin bows strung with horse hair).

Milsap was later enrolled in the Governor Moorhead School for the Blind, and by the time he was a teenager, he’d already taken to wearing his grandmother’s oversized sunglasses, a brave style choice which he continued for the rest of his professional career (the late Gloria Vanderbilt allowed Milsap to design his own brand in the early ’80s).

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Milsap loved rock ‘n’ roll and joined his first band, the Apparitions, while still in his teens. He eventually landed paying music gigs playing with J.J. Cale in the early ’60s.

He had a R&B hit with “Never Had It So Good,” but when it didn’t lead to much work, he moved to Memphis, TN, where he found regular employ as a session musician, backing up Elvis Presley on “Kentucky Rain.”

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Milsap’s musical combo later became the house band at TJ’s Club, and he was still working there when he had his first hit single released under his own name, “Loving You Is a Natural Thing” (1970).

Nothing much was happening in Memphis, though, which led to him moving to Nashville two years later. He signed a new record deal with RCA Records, and soon began releasing a slew of popular country singles.

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All total, Ronnie Milsap racked up 35 #1 chart-toppers and 49 Top Ten hits during his long career. He had a remarkable string of six #1 hit singles in a row in the ’70s, and between ’80 and ’82, another ten more consecutive #1 hits.

After a briefly aberrant low-charting period between ’83 and ’84, Milsap had yet another string of consecutive hits in ’85 through ’87, racking up eight more consecutive #1’s.

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Watch this ’80s country-ish “Take Off” — which also features vintage videos by Waylon Jennings, the Highwaymen, Crystal Gayle, George Jones, Alabama, Razzy Bailey, Hank Williams Jr., T.G. Sheppard, Kathy Mattea, the Judds, and Ricky Skaggs — and our previously-posted “Take Off to Country Jam” on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.