Songs from the Dragon Wagon, circa 1986 – 1988



What is the Dragon Wagon? The Dragon Wagon was a lime green 1982 Chrysler station wagon that a friend of mine was given by his parents circa 1986 when he got his license. This was no mere car. It was a chariot … spiriting a group of young men and women off to find parties on Friday and Saturday nights that 50% of the time didn’t exist, 25% of the time existed but had already been busted up by police, 15% of the time existed but had no beer left … but it was that magic 10% of the time when the party was still active … and had beer or other liquid or herbal spirits … that we all sought.

The car was so magical that one night the owner decided to permanently enshrine this vehicle as the Dragon Wagon by using reflector tape on the side to label this vehicle. I don’t know if it was the booze or some other muse that caused him to spell “dragon” as “dragin”. Oh, and he also tried to put the Van Halen symbol on the car, only he got the “H” and the “V” mixed up … which meant he was worshipping “Han Valen.” Laugh all you want to, but worshipping “Han Valen” is way cooler in my book.

I don’t know when this vehicle finally bought the farm. It was either when my friend struck a cable box … or it just died the type of grisly death you hear about in Tom Waits songs … but it was truly a great car. In honor of this vehicle, I am posting songs that I remember hearing in this automobile during pivotal moments of my misspent youth.

“Swan Swan H” – REM

“Cigarette” – The Smithereens

“A Forest” – The Cure

“Beautiful Girl” – Van Halen

“Can’t Get There From Here” – REM

“Primary” – The Cure


From the Cure’s 1981 album “Faith,” “Primary” is a song that always sounded just about right when you’re driving alone after midnight. You don’t hear it as much as their other singles, but “Primary” is a great adrenalized, bass-heavy track. It’s also interesting to see lead singer Robert Smith just starting the makeup and glam … just a few years away from the fright wig and black eye makeup.

“To Hell With Poverty” – Gang of Four


There’s just something about the marriage of loud, dissonant guitars and throbbing funk beats that makes the Gang of Four one of the coolest and most innovative bands of all time.  You can definitely hear the influence on such bands as the Cure, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Killing Joke.