Drive My Car - Reviews

Reviewed by Ian MacDonald, in Revolution in the Head:

The second of Rubber Soul's 'comedy songs' (together with NORWEGIAN WOOD), McCartney's DRIVE MY CAR started life as a song about 'a bitch' with a chorus that began 'You can buy me diamond rings'. Since The Beatles had used this cliché twice before (CAN'T BUY ME LOVE, I FEEL FINE), Lennon vetoed it and together they rewrote the lyric as a facetious vignette about a 'wannabe' star complete with a jokey pay-off line and an erotic double-entendre in the title.

DRIVE MY CAR was taped in an unusually long evening session, The Beatles' first to extend past midnight. McCartney came in with an arrangement in his mind but Harrison had been listening to Otis Redding's 'Respect' (then a minor American hit on the Volt label) and, perceiving the family resemblance between the two numbers, suggested a similar riffing line doubled on bass and low quitar [1]. Having taken much of the session to work it out, he and McCartney, together with Starr on drums, laid it down as the rhythm track, the rest, including the vocals, being overdubbed later. With its resonantly humming foundation, bolstered by piano on the choruses, DRIVE MY CAR has more 'bottom' than any previous Beatles recording, an effect presumably inspired by the bass-heavy sound generated in Redding's Memphis studio. 'Black', too, is its hollered two-part refrain and raunchy tug-of-war between D major and B minor, snapping to the rhythm more tightly than anything The Beatles had done since SHE'S A WOMAN. With its parallel-movement three-part chorus, interlocking drum part, and fiercely angular slide guitar solo [2] (very difficult and possibly varispeeded), DRIVE MY CAR is among the group's most closely arranged records and remains one of the most effective starting tracks to any of their albums [3].


  1. Harrison's knowledge of soul music was comprehensive. Then a long way ahead of hip taste in Britain in being a fan of Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions, he was effectively The Beatles' scout on new records from America, much as Dave Davies was for The Kinks
  2. Played by McCartney on the epiphone Casino he first used on the coda of TICKET TO RIDE
  3. The American version of Rubber Soul omitted DRIVE MY CAR and three other tracks, thereby giving a misleading impression that The Beatles had gone for a 'soft' sound in order to differentiate themselves from the harshness of Bob Dylan and those imitating him.

Posted: 5 dec 2010

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