- Published on 1965
- Author: Lennon/McCartney
- Track 1 on “Rubber Soul“
- Track 18 on “1962 ‐ 1966 (Red Album)“
GEORGE 1977: “If Paul had written a song, he’d learn all the parts and then come in the studio and say ‘Do this.’ He’d never give you the opportunity to come out with something. But on ‘Drive My Car’ I just played the line, which is really like a lick off ‘Respect,’ you know, the Otis Redding version. And I played the line on the guitar and Paul laid that with me on the bass. We laid that track down like that. We played the lead part later on top of it.”
JOHN 1980: “His (Paul’s) song, with contributions from me.”
PAUL circa-1994: “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 are always fatal (to songwriting). ‘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.’ 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… then we came back to it, and somehow it became ‘drive-my-car’ instead of ‘gol-den-rings,’ and then it was wonderful– because this nice tongue-in-cheek idea came.”
About “Drive My Car”
“Drive My Car” was written primarily by Paul McCartney, with lyrical contributions from John Lennon. It was first released on the band’s 1965 album Rubber Soul as the opening track. The song later appeared in North America on the Yesterday and Today collection, again to open the record, as the track had been dropped from the American version of Rubber Soul.
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.
“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 captured in Redding’s Memphis studio; as Ian MacDonald points out, the bassline appears to be directly derived from the bassline of Redding’s version of “Respect”. Author Robert Rodriguez describes the track as an “overt R&B workout” and a rare example of the Beatles demonstrating their admiration of Stax and Motown artists on the mostly folk rock-oriented Rubber Soul.
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 slide guitar solo. The song opens with a bluesy riff played on two electric guitars, before the bass enters. This opening section was also overdubbed onto the basic track. According to musicologist Walter Everett, it provides an ametrical and “off-balance” introduction, “with its blue notes presaging what is to come”.
Meaning of “Drive My Car”
The lyrics of “Drive My Car” are metaphorical, and the meaning can be interpreted in different ways. At its core, the song is about a person seeking companionship and intimacy. The title phrase, “drive my car,” is a metaphor for inviting someone into their life and asking her to take control, metaphorically speaking.
The song’s theme touches on the complexities of relationships, desires, and the need for mutual understanding and support.
“Drive My Car” is considered one of The Beatles’ iconic tracks and showcases their evolving musical style, incorporating elements of folk rock and a more sophisticated lyrical approach that was characteristic of their mid-1960s work.
- Paul McCartney – lead vocal, bass guitar, piano, slide guitar
- John Lennon – lead vocal, tambourine
- George Harrison – harmony vocal, lead guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums, cowbell