We know a place where no planes go
We know a place where no ships go
(Hey!) No cars go
(Hey!) No cars go
At this point I’m sitting here listening to it, trying to maintain some sort of critical distance from the track so I can get around to making my point, but I simply can’t hold back. The feeling this song gives me is one of the most breathtaking (and I use that word seriously) and exhilarating a song has ever give me. I get swept up in its urgency every time I hear it, and I’m floating. It’s so powerful. And I think that’s the whole point of the song, for with No Cars Go, the Arcade Fire are offering us a release, a way of leaving behind the nightmare that tracks one through nine waded through.
They are taking us to where “no cars go” - what could be more of a paradise, what could be further from modern worries?
But think about it; this song is less a solution than an escape - because there really isn’t a place where no cars, ships, planes, or submarines go - these machines colonise the earth, air and water. On Tiny Cities Made of Ashes, Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse screams “does anybody know a way that a body could get away?" - in a time of pervasive global surveilliance, where are the pure, unbroken spaces? "If you’re looking for an unmarked place, there is no such place" Augie March might reply.
So where does No Cars Go take us? Well there is one place that remains sacrosanct, and that place belongs much more to the temporal ambient of Funeral than Neon Bible - that place is childhood, dreams, memory. Or as Win and Reginne sing towards the climax, “between the click of the light and the start of the dream" is the only place where no cars go.
It’s no coincidence that it is “us kids know" - that the protagonists showing the way out are children. Another layer of significance seems to develop too when you find out that this song was originally recorded for their debut EP, before the dark days of Neon Bible, before even the realisation of adulthood that can be found at the end of Funeral.