Let Me Drive My Van (Into Your Heart)
Written and Composed by Rebecca Sugar
Performed by Tom Scharpling
Arranged by Aivi & Surasshu
Electric guitar by our Animation Director Nick DeMayo
This track was engineered and produced by jazz bassist John Leftwich! Thanks so much John!
So you remember the Simpsons episode “A Streetcar Named Marge”? It contains what I think is one of the most touching and sincere moments of the series: Homer’s been completely ignoring Marge for the entire episode, has paid no attention to her role in the upcoming Streetcar musical and honestly seems like he doesn’t give a crap whatsoever. Then comes the actual night of the production, which Homer begrudgingly attends and which Marge assumes he won’t pay a moment of actual attention to.
Marge’s suspicions seem confirmed when she looks out into the audience during the musical and sees Homer slumped forward, looking at the floor presumably asleep. When he comes to pick her up after the show she calls him out for not paying attention during the play and not caring about any of her pursuits or interests.
Homer counters that he wasn’t looking down because he was bored, he was looking down because he was sad: He then goes into a very…Homer-esque explanation of the plot (Forgetting several character’s names and generally explaining things like a moron) and the emotions it stirred in him. It’s a really sweet moment that shows that even though he’s not that bright and can be a little neglectful Homer still cares about Marge even if he’s not always smart enough to express himself.
I go on this long digression into the Simpsons because that moment was what I thought of during the entire “Let Me Drive My Van Into Your Heart” sequence from Steven Universe. It’s an utterly goofy, silly song (Which should be evident from the title) but I feel like it conveys a lot of real, sincere emotion.
We’re shown throughout the episode that Greg Universe is, to put it nicely, kind of a mess: He’s a failed musician who lives in a van, runs a carwash and has a habit of falling asleep for long enough periods that he forgets what time of day it is. But as he and Steven look through his old storage shed for Rose Quartz’ laser cannon we come to see how much he cares for his sun and now deceased wife.
The song is really, to me, the apex of this little journey into Greg’s psyche: Like Homer he is not the sharpest tool in the shed and his song is one you’d expect from someone of his mental faculties: It’s cheesy, a little contrived and really, really 80s. But despite its flaws it feels like there’s a lot of real emotion this silly little ditty: Like it was written as a direct love letter from Greg to Rose.
He realized he’s not the tallest, or the smartest or the richest guy around. He realized he didn’t really have much to offer someone like Rose. But he also realized he really loved her and had to express that in his own way, even if he wasn’t quite smart enough to find the words to do so.
So I’ve written this small essay about a 30 second song from a cartoon to basically just say .that Steven Universe is awesome and the amount of emotional depth they managed to squeeze out of a stupid little 80s power-ballad made me smile. Keep up the good work Ms. Sugar and co.