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In this song, Isaac Brock sees the positive side of things even though the world around him is falling apart - the dashboard is melting, but they still have the radio. The "radio" could be a symbol of the band's music, which they will have no matter what.
This song was written the first day Modest Mouse began collaborating with guitarist Johnny Marr, who was not yet an official member of the band. Marr is known for his work with The Smiths. (thanks, Toby - Beverly, MA)
Johnny Marr recalled to Uncut magazine February 2008 about his contribution to this: "On the first night we (Marr and Isaac Brock) just set up two amps opposite each other and just got louder and louder and improvised. I just started playing 'Dashboard,' which I'd been playing a few weeks before and forgotten about. And he instantly started improvising the lyrics, which knocked me out. To see someone produce those lyrics just off the top of his head is amazing: I've never seen it done in such a way."
This was the first time Johnny Marr had been involved with a US #1 album after a quarter of a century in the music business.
The film Trains, Planes And Automobiles was a likely influence on this song. In the movie, the main characters end up driving in a car that has been set on fire. The radio in the car is one of the few things that still works after the dashboard is melted. (thanks, stefan - erie, PA)
American blues musician Seasick Steve plays the part of the bartender in the song's music video.