The Paul McCartney Project

Drive My Car

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Rubber Soul (UK Mono) Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1965
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Drive My Car” is a song by the Beatles, written primarily by Paul McCartney, with lyrical contributions from John Lennon. It was first released on the British version of the band’s 1965 album Rubber Soul; it also appeared in North America on the Yesterday and Today collection. The upbeat, lighthearted “Drive My Car” was used as the opening track for both albums. Over the years the song has been covered by many artists.

Lyrics

The song’s male narrator is told by a woman that she is going to be a famous movie star, and she offers him the opportunity to be her chauffeur, adding: “and maybe I’ll love you“. When he objects that his “prospects [are] good“, she retorts that “working for peanuts is all very fine but I can show you a better time.” When he agrees to her proposal, she admits that she does not have a car, “but [she’s] found a driver and that’s a start.” According to McCartney, “‘Drive my car’ was an old blues euphemism for sex“. This expression was more common in the pre-automatic shift era of automobiles.

Composition

When McCartney arrived at Lennon’s Weybridge home for a writing session, he had the tune in his head, but “The lyrics were disastrous, and I knew it.” The chorus began, “You can buy me diamond rings“, a cliché they had used twice before, in “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “I Feel Fine” (as well as in the discarded “If You’ve Got Trouble“). Lennon dismissed the lyrics as “crap” and “too soft“. They decided to rewrite the lyrics and after some difficulty – McCartney said it was “one of the stickiest” writing sessions – they settled on the “drive my car” theme (which Bob Spitz credits to Lennon) and the rest of the lyrics flowed easily from that.

It has been suggested that the song also refers to the relationship between Cilla Black and her then boyfriend Bobby Willis (whom she later married). Cilla was both a friend of the Beatles and a protegée of Brian Epstein. As the TV mini-series “Cilla” reveals, Bobby was also offered a recording contract by Epstein, but Cilla objected, saying she was the “star” and Bobby was to be the road manager who would “Drive My Car“.

Recording

Drive My Car” was recorded on 13 October 1965 during the Beatles’ first recording session to extend past midnight. McCartney worked closely with George Harrison on the basic rhythm track, the pair playing, in author Ian MacDonald’s description, “similar riffing lines on bass and low guitar“, respectively, as per Harrison’s suggestion. Harrison had been listening to Otis Redding’s “Respect” at the time and, as a result of this influence, “Drive My Car” contains more bottom end than previous Beatles recordings, mimicking the bass-heavy sound in Redding ‘s Memphis studio.

McCartney sang the main vocal part, giving it an energetic push that journalist Richie Unterberger calls “a commanding … hard rock vocal“. The vocal rides above a simple two-chord funk riff in the verse, and a much more complex chorus containing piano-driven jazz-style key modulations. McCartney overdubbed both the piano part and the lead guitar solo.

Paul McCartney in "Many Years From Now", by Barry Miles:

The lyrics were disastrous and I knew it… This is one of the songs where John and I came nearest to having a dry session. The lyrics I brought in were something to do with golden rings, which is always fatal. ‘Rings’ is fatal anyway, ‘rings’ always rhymes with ‘things’ and I knew it was a bad idea. I came in and I said, ‘These aren’t good lyrics but it’s a good tune.’ The tune was nice, the tune was there, I’d done the melody. Well, we tried, and John couldn’t think of anything, and we tried and eventually it was, ‘Oh let’s leave it, let’s get off this one.’ ‘No, no. We can do it, we can do it.’ So we had a break, maybe had a cigarette or a cup of tea, then we came back to it, and somehow it became ‘drive my car’ instead of ‘gold-en rings’, and then it was wonderful because this nice tongue-in-cheek idea came and suddenly there was a girl there, the heroine of the story, and the story developed and had a little sting in the tail like Norwegian Wood had, which was ‘I actually haven’t got a car, but when I get one you’ll be a terrific chauffeur.’ […]

‘Drive my car’ was an old blues euphemism for sex, so in the end all is revealed. Black humour crept in and saved the day. It wrote itself then. I find that very often, once you get the good idea, things write themselves.

Paul McCartney in "Conversations With McCartney", by Paul Du Noyer:

The only Beatle song I can remember we got stuck on – though it still only took an afternoon – it’s just we got stuck on this thing, ‘Baby I can give you golden rings, I can give you anything, Baby I love you.’ It was ‘Drive My Car’. And I hated this, ‘I can give you golden rings,’ sounds like curtain rings or something. We just couldn’t get past it.

And finally we just got manic, ‘Oh, let’s forget it, let’s just do the next bit.’ We moved off the block and somehow I thought, ‘Drive my car, great, that’s great!’ And that was the whole idea then. Oh, you could be my chauffeur! As if you were talking to a girl, or Zsa Zsa Gabor was talking to a toy boy. And then of course, the little twist we were into at that period, like in ‘Norwegian Wood’ he burns her place down after having talked about how wonderful all the wood is. He burns it because she wouldn’t let him have it. That was the little twist of that. And ‘Drive My Car’ is that he hasn’t actually got a car. One of these days I’ll have one and then you can drive it.

So that was all right. Once we got that idea, drive my car, got it away from golden rings it went really quick, and then the ‘beep-beep beep-beep yeah!’ It all came in. Once you have a good idea it’s easy to run with it. Normally I don’t have to struggle too much.

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] mono 25 Oct 1965.
    UK: Parlophone PMC 1267 Rubber Soul 1965.
    CD: EP Box set 1991.
  • [b] stereo 26 Oct 1965.
    UK: Parlophone PCS 3075 Rubber Soul 1965, Apple PCSP 717 The Beatles 1962-1966 1973.
    US: Capitol ST 2553 Yesterday & Today 1966, Apple SKBO-3403 The Beatles 1962-1966 1973.
  • [b1] mono made from [b], by Capitol.
    US: Capitol T 2553 Yesterday & Today 1966.
  • [c] stereo 1987.
    CD: EMI CDP 7 46440 2 Rubber Soul 1987, EMI CDP 7 97036 2 The Beatles 1962-1966 1993.

The lead vocal is far right in stereo [b], right center on [c].

The cowbell track in stereo [b] is heard during each verse except in the last line, between lines of the refrain, in the instrumental break, and in the fadeout. In mono [a] it is much softer and seems to be missing completely during the fadeout. Capitol mono T 2553 is not mix [a] and must have been combined from stereo [b]. In the CD mix [c] the vocal is moved to right center, leaving the cowbell and guitar track far right, and the cowbell is heard continuously through the refrain, evidence that the track is being faded during vocal lines in [b].

Reports of a different mono mix with the piano much softer, on UK Parlophone GEP 8952 Nowhere Man (EP) 1965 (see the book Every Little Thing for example), are mistaken, but perhaps “piano” is a transcription error for “cowbell” since the EP with [a] does differ from Capitol mono with [b1].

Last updated on October 29, 2016

Lyrics

Asked a girl what she wanted to be
She said baby, "Can't you see
I wanna be famous, a star on the screen
But you can do something in between"

Baby you can drive my car
Yes I'm gonna be a star
Baby you can drive my car
And maybe I love you

I told a girl that my prospects were good
And she said baby, "It's understood
Working for peanuts is all very fine
But I can show you a better time"

Baby you can drive my car
Yes I'm gonna be a star
Baby you can drive my car
And maybe I love you
Beep beep'm beep beep yeah

Baby you can drive my car
Yes I'm gonna be a star
Baby you can drive my car
And maybe I love you

I told that girl I can start right away
And she said, "Listen baby I got something to say
I got no car and it's breaking my heart
But I've found a driver and that's a start"

Baby you can drive my car
Yes I'm gonna be a star
Baby you can drive my car
And maybe I love you
Beep beep'm beep beep yeah
Beep beep'm beep beep yeah
Beep beep'm beep beep yeah
Beep beep'm beep beep yeah

Officially appears on


Rubber Soul (UK Mono)

Official album • Released in 1965

2:25 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Lead guitar, Rhythm guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Cowbell, Drums
John Lennon:
Piano, Tambourine, Vocals
George Harrison:
Guitar, Harmony vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Oct 13, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 25, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Rubber Soul (UK Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1965

2:25 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Lead guitar, Rhythm guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Cowbell, Drums
John Lennon:
Piano, Tambourine, Vocals
George Harrison:
Guitar, Harmony vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Oct 13, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 26, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Yesterday and Today (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1966

2:31 • Studio versionB1 • Mono made from [B] by Capitol

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Lead guitar, Rhythm guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Cowbell, Drums
John Lennon:
Piano, Tambourine, Vocals
George Harrison:
Guitar, Harmony vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Oct 13, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 26, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Yesterday and Today (Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1966

2:31 • Studio versionB

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Lead guitar, Rhythm guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Cowbell, Drums
John Lennon:
Piano, Tambourine, Vocals
George Harrison:
Guitar, Harmony vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Oct 13, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 26, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Nowhere Man

EP • Released in 1966

2:31 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Lead guitar, Rhythm guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Cowbell, Drums
John Lennon:
Piano, Tambourine, Vocals
George Harrison:
Guitar, Harmony vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Oct 13, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 25, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Paul Is Live

Official live • Released in 1993

2:33 • LiveL1

Performed by:
Paul McCartneyLinda McCartneyRobbie McIntoshHamish StuartPaul WickensBlair Cunningham
Paul McCartney:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineering, Mixing
Julian Mendelsohn:
Recording
Bob Kraushaar:
Recording

Concert From the concert in Kansas City, USA on May 31, 1993


Motor Of Love

Official album • Released in 2005

2:31 • LiveL2

Concert From "NFL Super Bowl XXXIX Halftime Show" in Jacksonville, USA on Feb 06, 2005


Love

Official album • Released in 2006

1:54 • Studio version • As reported, the medley features the guitar solo from "Taxman" and the horns section from "Savoy Truffle".

George Martin:
Producer
Giles Martin:
Producer
Paul Hicks:
Remix engineer
Sam Okell:
Remix engineer assistant
Chris Bolster:
Remix engineer assistant
Mirek Stiles:
Remix engineer assistant

Session Mixing:
Circa 2004-2006
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Good Evening New York City

Official live • Released in 2009

2:36 • LiveL3 • Could have been record on 17, 18 or 21 July 2009

Paul McCartney:
Executive producer
Performed by:
Paul McCartneyRusty AndersonAbe Laboriel Jr.Paul WickensBrian Ray
Geoff Emerick:
Audio mixing
Paul Hicks:
Audio mixing
Jonas Westling:
Additional engineering
Richard Lancaster:
Additional engineering
John Henry:
Recording

Concert From the concert in New York, USA on Jul 17, 2009

Live performances

“Drive My Car” has been played in 215 concerts and 39 soundchecks.

Latest concerts where “Drive My Car” has been played


The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Sep 06, 2018 • USA • New York • NBC Studios • TV show


"Under The Staircase" Spotify show

Jul 23, 2018 • United Kingdom • London • Abbey Road Studios


Carpool Karaoke

Jun 21, 2018 • United Kingdom • Liverpool • TV show


Secret gig at the Philharmonic Dining Rooms

Jun 09, 2018 • United Kingdom • Liverpool • Philharmonic Dining Rooms


Sydney • Qudos Bank Arena

Dec 12, 2017 • Part of One On One Tour



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