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Drive My Car

The history of this classic Beatles song

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The original US sheet music for

The original US sheet music for "Drive My Car"

source: rarebeatles.com

Drive My Car

Written by: Paul McCartney (70%), John Lennon (30%)
(credited as Lennon-McCartney)
Recorded: October 13, 1965 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: October 25 and 26, 1965
Length: 2:25
Takes: 4
Musicians:
John Lennon: harmony vocal, lead vocal (double-tracked), piano (1905 Steinway Vertegrand "Mrs. Mills"), tambourine
Paul McCartney: harmony vocal, bass guitar (1961 Hofner 500/1), lead guitar (1962 Epiphone Casino)
George Harrison: rhythm guitar (1961 Sonic Blue Fender Stratocaster), backing vocals
Ringo Starr: drums (Ludwig), cowbell
Available on: (CDs in bold)
Rubber Soul (UK: Parlophone PMC 1267; PCS 3075; Parlophone CDP 7 46440 2)
Yesterday and Today (US: Capitol (S)T 2553)
Nowhere Man (EP) (UK: Parlophone GEP 8952)
The Beatles 1962-1966 (UK: Apple PCSP 717, US: Apple SKBO 3403, Apple CDP 0777 7 97036 2 3)
History:
  • "Drive My Car," the first song on the Beatles' 1965 classic Rubber Soul, was brought by Paul to John, with the music mostly completed, on October 13, 1965, with Paul having worked the song out a few days earlier. Both agreed the lyrics were no good: the placeholding lyrics Paul had written for the chorus, written from the point of view of the singer's girlfriend, went something like "You can give me golden rings / You can give me anything / 'Cause baby, I love you." John suggested the refrain "Baby, you can drive my car," a sexual metaphor which fit the bluesy nature of the song well, and also the hook "Beep beep mmm beep beep yeah!" From there the two finished the song off on the spot; the result was the band's earliest song-story, and one of its wittiest numbers.
  • George, for his part, suggested a slippery guitar riff for the verses, one patterned after a favorite recent song of his: Otis Redding's original version of "Respect." George taught Paul the riff on bass, and the two played it in unison, with George on guitar. (Some have misread George's recollections to mean that he also played bass on the track, but he did not.) John came up with the unique five-note piano filigree which he performed on the chorus, while Paul recorded his first Beatles guitar solo, a melodic wonder with a slide feel to it.
  • "Drive My Car" was completed, arranged, and recorded in one marathon session that same day, working past midnight on the track. (This was the first Beatles session to run into the early morning hours.) Take 4 was the best, and was overdubbed with vocals, John's piano and tambourine, and Ringo's cowbell.
  • The vocals on this track are unique: Paul and John sing harmony through almost the entire song, and even though the number is mainly Paul's, it's a double-tracked John who alone sings the tagline: "And maybe I'll love you." George, for his part, only comes in to do harmony on the "beep beep" tagline.
Trivia:
  • The mixes of "Drive My Car" differ somewhat; the mono mix features a less-prominent cowbell, which can only be heard in some parts of the song, while the original stereo mix features a loud cowbell heard almost throughout. The CD stereo mix leaves the cowbell in throughout the whole song and moves the vocal track from far right to center right.
  • This was a favorite of all four Beatles; there's even a version floating around of George performing an acoustic version as part of a medley on the US syndicated radio show Rockline.
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