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Shakespeare’s Cadillac

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Smoke

Livin’ in my car in the Hollywood Hills
Workin’ as a waiter tryin’ to pay my bills
All day long, well I play my guitar
Writin’ songs in the back seat of my car
If I ever get outta here I ain’t comin back
Dreamin’ the dream in Shakespeare’s Cadillac

Recordin’ my songs hustlin’ every day
An A and R man says, “I like the way you play”
I grabbed that life line and didn’t let go
Now I’m drivin down Sunset’…I’m on the radio
Top down, hair blowin, don’t look back
I’m ridin’ smooth…in Shakespeare’s Cadillac


If I could go back and rewrite the script
There’s a lot of things I’d like to flip
One thing I’d never change when I look back
Is that sweet, sweet ride…in my Shake, Shake, Shake…Shakespeare’s Cadillac

Six months in my song hit number ten
I tried real hard to do it again
I barely cracked a hundred, I was yesterday’s news
I was playin’ rock and roll, but I was singin’ the blues
Went down a dark road, thought I’d never come back
I took a detour…in Shakespeare’s Cadillac

I dove into a bottle and I almost drowned
Jobs dried up, people stopped comin’ ‘round
I burned a lotta bridges, said a lotta things
Hard to walk among the people once you been the king
I finally drove down a cul de sac
Ran outta gas…in Shakespeare’s Cadillac


Now I play a lotta one-hit wonder shows
I play a couple of tunes that people kinda know
I still get laid, and I still get paid
But I’m livin’ in a different world from the one I made
Drivin town to town…tryin’ to get back on track
It’s just me and the road and…Shakespeare’s Cadillac


Story Behind the Song

The song is about “making it” in LA. While some of the song is “kind of” autobiographical, most of it is not. I never heard a song I wrote on the radio.

Nick came to LA with $500, his dreams, a guitar, and his old Cadillac. He worked as a waiter, slept in his car, and wrote songs in the back seat of his Caddy, often by lantern light in the middle of the night. When he wasn’t working, he put together a band, started gigging around town, and recording demos in a band member’s home studio.

Nick wrote all the band’s songs, and the other band members thought they were terrific. One day the bass player discovered Nick in the back seat of the Cadillac writing a song. The most famous writer the bassist could think of was Shakespeare, and he christened the car “Shakespeare’s Cadillac.”

There is a scene in the book where Nick and the band are crammed into the Caddy, parked under the Hollywood sign. A few days before, one of the guys in the band called in a favor from a friend who was a DJ at a small Glendale rock station. The DJ said he’d play the band’s song, from a demo tape, at midnight. One time only.

So, with the Caddy’s top down, at exactly midnight, Nick cranks up the radio full blast when their song comes on. Lots of other cars are parked nearby and somebody yells at Nick to turn down the radio. Nick yells back that it’s their song playing on the radio.

In less than a minute all the cars are blasting the song as Nick and the band high-five each other, under the light of a full moon, looking down on the city glistening below.

It was the beginning of Nick’s dream coming true.