The Paul McCartney Project

Why Don't We Do It In The Road?

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the The Beatles (Mono) Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1968
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” is a song by the Beatles released on their 1968 album The Beatles, commonly referred to as The White Album. It was written and sung by Paul McCartney, but credited to Lennon–McCartney. “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” is short and simple; 1:42 of twelve-bar blues that begins with three different percussion elements (a hand banging on the back of an acoustic guitar, handclaps, and drums) and features McCartney’s increasingly raucous vocal repeating a simple lyric with only two different lines.

McCartney wrote the song after seeing two monkeys copulating in the street while on retreat in Rishikesh, India, with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He marvelled in the simplicity of this natural scenario when compared to the emotional turmoil of human relationships. He later said:

A male [monkey] just hopped on the back of this female and gave her one, as they say in the vernacular. Within two or three seconds he hopped off again and looked around as if to say “It wasn’t me!” and she looked around as if there’d been some mild disturbance … And I thought … that’s how simple the act of procreation is … We have horrendous problems with it, and yet animals don’t.

Recording

On 9 October 1968, while John Lennon and George Harrison were working on two other songs for the album, McCartney recorded five takes of the song in Studio One at Abbey Road Studios. Unlike its heavy blues result, the song began as an acoustic guitar number with McCartney alternating by verse between gentle and strident vocal styles. On this first night, McCartney played all the instruments himself. This version of the song can be found on the Beatles’ Anthology 3.

On 10 October, McCartney and Ringo Starr finished the song, Starr adding drums and handclaps, McCartney adding more vocals, bass guitar, and lead guitar. Lennon and Harrison were again occupied, supervising string overdubs for “Piggies” and “Glass Onion.”

Lennon’s reaction

Upon learning about the recording, Lennon was unhappy that McCartney recorded the song without him. In his 1980 interview with Playboy, he was asked about it:

Playboy: “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?”
Lennon: That’s Paul. He even recorded it by himself in another room. That’s how it was getting in those days. We came in and he’d made the whole record. Him drumming. Him playing the piano. Him singing. But he couldn’t—he couldn’t—maybe he couldn’t make the break from the Beatles. I don’t know what it was, you know. I enjoyed the track. Still, I can’t speak for George, but I was always hurt when Paul would knock something off without involving us. But that’s just the way it was then.
Playboy: You never just knocked off a track by yourself?
Lennon: No.
Playboy: “Julia”?
Lennon: That was mine.

Julia” was recorded four days after the first session for “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?,” and is a solo performance by Lennon (double-tracked lead vocals and acoustic guitar), though McCartney was present for the recording, as he can be heard talking to Lennon from the control room after a take on the Beatles’ Anthology 3.

In a 1981 conversation with Hunter Davies, who had written a biography of the Beatles in 1968, McCartney responded to a Yoko Ono interview where she said McCartney had hurt Lennon more than anyone else, by saying, “No one ever goes on about the times John hurt me … Could I have hurt him more than the person who ran down his mother in his car?” He then brought up Lennon’s comments about “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?“: “There’s only one incident I can think of that John has mentioned publicly. It was when I went off with Ringo and did ‘Why Don’t We Do It in the Road’. It wasn’t a deliberate thing. John and George were tied up finishing something and me and Ringo were free, just hanging around, so I said to Ringo, ‘Let’s go and do this.’

McCartney also expressed some lingering resentment about a similar incident with “Revolution 9“, recorded in June 1968, a few months before “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?“: “Anyway, he did the same with ‘Revolution 9’. He went off and made that without me. No one ever says that. John is the nice guy and I’m the bastard. It gets repeated all the time.” […]

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

I was up on the flat roof meditating and I’d seen a troupe of monkeys walking along in the jungle and a male just hopped on to the back of this female and gave her one, as they say in the vernacular. Within two or three seconds he hopped off again, and looked around as if to say, ‘It wasn’t me,’ and she looked around as if there had been some mild disturbance but thought, Huh, I must have imagined it, and she wandered off. And I thought, bloody hell, that puts it all into a cocked hat, that’s how simple the act of procreation is, this bloody monkey just hopping on and hopping off. There is an urge, they do it, and it’s done with. And it’s that simple. We have horrendous problems with it, and yet animals don’t. So that was basically it. Why Don’t We Do It In The Road? could have applied to either fucking or shitting, to put it roughly. Why don’t we do either of them in the road? Well, the answer is we’re civilised and we don’t. But the song was just to pose that question. Why Don’t We Do It In The Road? was a primitive statement to do with sex or to do with freedom really. I like it, it’d just so outrageous that I like it.

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] mono 16 Oct 1968.
    UK: Apple PMC 7067 white album 1968.
  • [b] stereo 16 Oct 1968.
    UK: Apple PCS 7067 white album 1968.
    US: Apple SWBO 101 white album 1968.
    CD: EMI CDP 7 46443 2 white album 1987.

Mono [a] lacks handclaps in the intro.

Paul McCartney first played the song live at Desert Trip in 2016, joined on stage by Neil Young.

Last updated on October 9, 2016

Lyrics

Why don't we do it in the road?
Why don't we do it in the road?
Why don't we do it in the road?
Why don't we do it in the road?
No one will be watching us
Why don't we do it in the road?

Why don't we do it in the road?
Why don't we do it in the road?
Why don't we do it in the road?
Why don't we do it in the road?
No one will be watching us
Why don't we do it in the road?

Why don't we do it in the road?
Why don't we do it in the road?
Why don't we do it in the road?
Why don't we do it in the road?
No one will be watching us
Why don't we do it in the road?

Officially appears on


The Beatles (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1968

1:41 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Bass, Handclaps, Lead guitar, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Handclaps
Ken Townsend:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Oct 09, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Oct 10, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


The Beatles (Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1968

1:41 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Bass, Handclaps, Lead guitar, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Handclaps
Ken Townsend:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Oct 09, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Oct 10, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Anthology 3

Official album • Released in 1996

2:15 • OuttakeC • Mono • Take 4. The White Album version does not suggest so, but Why Don't We Do It In The Road started out as an acoustic number, and, moreover, had Paul alternating between gentle (if pleading) and strident vocal styles. The master (Take 5) was adorned with a number of overdubs that turned the song into much heavier piece, with every instrument bar Ringo's drums played by Paul himself. This is Take 4, performed solo.

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Bass
Ken Townsend:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Oct 09, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


The Beatles (2018)

Official album • Released in 2018

1:41 • Studio versionR2018 • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Bass, Handclaps, Lead guitar, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Handclaps
Ken Townsend:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Oct 09, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Oct 10, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


The Beatles (2018)

Official album • Released in 2018

Outtake • Take 5

Live performances

“Why Don't We Do It In The Road?” has been played in 3 concerts.

Latest concerts where “Why Don't We Do It In The Road?” has been played


Desert Trip (2nd night)

Oct 15, 2016 • USA • Indio • Empire Polo Club


Desert Trip

Oct 08, 2016 • USA • Indio • Empire Polo Club


BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes

May 28, 2016 • United Kingdom • London • BBC Maida Vale Studios • Radio show


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