the Door To Yesterday Vol. 3, No 23. 
Alan Warer, 2019.

 

 

 

The Door To Yesterday. Riding Along in my Automobile. The World Of Car ss
Alan Warner 2019.

Earlier this year in my blog “White Line Fever”, I highlighted almost 60 recordings of vintage songs 

relating to life on the open road and the romance of the driving experience. A number of the titles 

quite naturally referred to the actual vehicles which traveled the highways and byways but I decided 

that the cars themselves warranted a separate list of their own. 


Of course, cars had figured in popular songs going way back in time…titles such as 

IN MY MERRY OLDSMOBILE from 1905 and the novelty number 

HE’D HAVE TO GET UNDER, GET OUT AND GET UNDER  TO FIX HIS AUTOMOBILE

 from a mere eight years later but the ones I remember are from the days when 

rock ‘n’ roll gave car songs a language of their very own. 


Leading the way was the great Chuck Berry whose lyrics overflowed with unforgettable fuel-injected phrases. 

For starters, check out his description of 

‘A Cadillac a-rollin’ on the open road’ 

in his classic hit MAYBELLENE which he released on Chess in ’55: 

https://youtu.be/75RiHJGfyUE


Ridin’ along in my automobile’ was the opening line in Chuck’s 

NO PARTICULAR PLACE TO GO and in MAYBELLENE he created the word motorvating 

(‘As I was motorvatin’ over the hill/I saw Maybellene in a coupe de ville’) 

and this from a guy who donated his red 1973 Cadillac Eldorado to the Smithsonian!  


There’ve been countless car songs over the years 

and here are just a few more standouts from the classic rock era…


BACK SEAT OF MY CAR 

(Paul McCartney) by Paul & Linda McCartney

Pro: Paul & Linda McCartney 

(Apple: 1971)


BLACK LIMOUSINE 

(Mick Jagger/Keith Richards/Ronnie Wood) 

by The Rolling Stones

Pro: The Glimmer Twins 

(Rolling Stones: 1981)


BRAND NEW CADILLAC 

(Vince Taylor) 

by Vince Taylor & His Playboys 

(UK Parlophone: 1959) 

https://youtu.be/8ImWirFEjO8 

A fine example of early British rock ‘n’ roll, revived by The Clash 

on their breakthrough LP “London Calling” in ‘79.


BUCKET ‘T’

 (Jan Berry/Don Altfeld/Roger Christian/Dean Torrence) 

By Jan & Dean

Pro: Jan Berry

 (Liberty: 1964) https://youtu.be/GUPPz1he3sQ 

Song was a minor chart hit in late ‘64/early ’65 for Ronny & The Daytonas

 and was revived by The Who two years later. 

Cruisin’ down the street in front of school’


CADILLAC 

(Marc Bolan)

 by T.Rex

Pro: Tony Visconti 

(UK EMI: 1972) https://youtu.be/y24B8_YxtQY  


In that same year’s UK hit CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION, Marc Bolan sang 

I drive a Rolls Royce/'Cos it’s good for my voice’


CADILLAC RANCH 

(Bruce Springsteen) 

by Bruce Springsteen

Pro: by Bruce Springsteen & Jon Landau with Steve Van Zandt 

(Columbia: 1980)


CARS 

(Gary Numan) 

by Gary Numan

Pro: Gary Numan

Eng: Rikki Sylvan & Harvey Webb

 (Atco: 1979)

 https://youtu.be/E4Lo-D8NQF0


CHEVROLET 

(Earl McDaniel) 

by Foghat

Pro: Eddie Kramer & Foghat

 (Bearsville: 1978)  

DEAD MAN’S CURVE

 (Jan Berry/Brian Wilson/Roger Christian/Artie Kornfeld) 

by Jan & Dean

Pro & Arr: Jan Berry/Supervision: Lou Adler 

(Liberty: 1964) 

https://youtu.be/S1Cuekbklkg

Drag City Jan and Dean The Door To Yesterday

DRAG CITY

 (Jan Berry/Roger Christian/Brian Wilson)

 by Jan & Dean

Eng: Lanky & Bones

Pro: Jan Berry

Supervision: Don Kirshner & Lou Adler 

(Liberty: 1964) https://youtu.be/nrP6xpf0qFE

Burn up that quarter mile’


DRIVE

 (Ric Ocasek)

 by The Cars

Pro: Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange & The Cars 

(Elektra: 1984)

 https://youtu.be/afnOOEvAtt4


DRIVE MY CAR 

(John Lennon/Paul McCartney) 

by The Beatles

Pro: George Martin 

(UK Parlophone: 1965) 

This song was the opening track of the

 UK version of the Beatles’ “Rubber Soul” album 

but it was not included on the American release. 

The song was subsequently included on

 the 1966 U.S. Capitol compilation

“Yesterday and Today”.


DRIVIN’ MY LIFE AWAY 

(Eddie Rabbitt/Even Stevens/David Malloy) 

by Eddie Rabbitt

Pro: David Malloy 

(Elektra: 1980)

  https://youtu.be/oMRR4DP61Ao

Madness Driving In My Car. The Door ToYesterday. 2019

DRIVING IN MY CAR 

(Mike Barson) 

by Madness

A Clive Langer-Alan Winstanley Prod

(UK Stiff: 1982)

 https://youtu.be/faP-B_gEElE


FAST CAR 

(Tracy Chapman) by Tracy Chapman

Pro: David Kershenbaum 

(Elektra: 1988) 


409 

(Brian Wilson/Gary Usher/Mike Love) by The Beach Boys 

(Capitol: 1962) 

The B-side of SURFIN’ SAFARI.

FUN, FUN, FUN 

(Brian Wilson/Mike Love) 

by The Beach Boys

Arr & Pro: Brian Wilson 

(Capitol: 1964) 

https://youtu.be/_JasiSpmfsU

  ‘'Til her daddy takes the T-bird away’


GERONIMO’S CADILLAC

 (Michael Murphey/Charles Quarto) 

by Michael Murphey

Pro: Bob Johnston 

(A&M: 1972) 


GET OUTTA MY DREAMS, GET INTO MY CAR 

(Mutt Lange/Billy Ocean) 

by Billy Ocean

Pro: Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange

 (Jive: 1988)

 

GREY CORTINA 

(Tom Robinson) 

by The Tom Robinson Band

Pro: Chris Thomas 

(UK EMI: 1978) 

https://youtu.be/TrDLHVArhZY 

This song followed 

in the wake of the Tom Robinson Band’s

1977 Top 5 UK hit

 2-4-6-8 MOTORWAY.

GTO Ronny and the Daytonas. Tho To Yesterday. Alan Warner 2019.

G.T.O (John Wilkin) 

by Ronny & The Daytonas

Pro: Bill Justis 

(Mala: 1964) 

https://youtu.be/dIaHqiCNMXI

C'mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out, GTO’


HEY LITTLE COBRA 

(Carol Connors/Marshal Connors) 

by The Rip Chords

Pro: Terry Melcher & Bruce Johnston

 (Columbia: 1963)

 https://youtu.be/FqAen8PJ064  

 ‘Hitched to the back of my cadillac’. 


Other Rip Chords auto favorites: 

THREE WINDOW COUPE and RED HOT ROADSTER.


HOT ROD LINCOLN 

(Charlie Ryan) 

by Charlie Ryan & The Livingston Brothers

 (Souvenir: 1955) 

https://youtu.be/xo-B4d_h0LQ

Re-recorded by Charlie Ryan & The Timberline Riders on 4 Star which charted in 1960. 

Also recorded and charted by Johnny Bond in ’60 and successfully revived

 Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen in ’72.


HOT ROD RACE 

(George Wilson)

 by Arkie Shibley & His Mountain Dew Boys 

(Gilt-Edge: 1950)

 A Top 5 Country hit in ’51.   

Versions by Tiny Hill, Ramblin’ Jimmie Dolan and Red Foley

were also all major country sellers in ’51.


I CAN’T DRIVE 55 

(Sammy Hagar) 

by Sammy Hagar

Pro: Ted Templeman

Eng: Jeff Hendrickson 

(Geffen: 1984) 

https://youtu.be/2Qf98egLWOk


I’M IN LOVE WITH MY CAR 

(Roger Taylor) 

by Queen

Pro: Roy Thomas Baker & Queen

 (Elektra: 1975).


JAGUAR (Pete Townshend)

 by The Who

Pro: Kit Lambert

Exec Pro: Chris Stamp 

(Recorded for UK Track in ’67 but unreleased until ’94).


JAGUAR AND THUNDERBIRD 

(Chuck Berry) 

by Chuck Berry 

(Chess: 1960)

 ‘Twas a sky blue Jaguar and a Thunderbird Ford’


LITTLE DEUCE COUPE

 (Roger Christian/Brian Wilson) 

by The Beach Boys

Arr & Pro: Brian Wilson 

(Capitol: 1963)

 

https://youtu.be/ZXFFLuoaMzM


LITTLE HONDA 

(Brian Wilson/Mike Love) 

by The Hondells

Arr: Gary Usher

Vocal Dir: Nick Venet 

(Mercury: 1964) 

https://youtu.be/avGzl-8gQ88  


This cover single went Top Ten in October ’64 

and was more successful than the Beach Boys version. 


THE LITTLE OLD LADY (FROM PASADENA) 

(Don Altfeld/Roger Christian) by Jan & Dean

Pro & Arr: Jan Berry

Eng: Lanky & Bones (Liberty: 1964) 

 

LITTLE RED CORVETTE 

(Prince) 

by Prince

Pro & Arr: Prince 

(Warner Bros: 1982)

 

LOW RIDER Allen/Brown/Dickerson/Jordan/Millere/

Oskar/Scott/Jerry Goldstein) 

by War

Pro: Jerry Goldstein 

in association w/Lonnie Jordan & Howard Scott 

(United Artists: 1975).

https://youtu.be/_mFxUIH5IaE


 

MERCEDES BENZ 

(Janis Joplin/Michael McClure/Robert Neuwirth) 

by Janis Joplin

Pro: Paul Rothchild 

(Columbia: 1971)   


MERCEDES BOY 

(Pebbles) 

by Pebbles

Pro: Charlie Wilson

Exec Pro: George L. Smith

Additional Pro: Jeff Lorber 

(MCA: 1988) 


MERCURY BLUES 

(K.C. Douglas/Robert Geddins) 

by K.C. Douglas Trio 

(Down Town: 1949) https://youtu.be/s0OdJnrBSAA 


Song became a major Country hit for Alan Jackson in ’93



 

Wilson Pickett ousting Sally. The Door T Yesterday. Alan Warner 2019.

MUSTANG SALLY 

(Bonny Rice) 

by Wilson Pickett

Pro: Jerry Wexler

Eng: Tom Dowd 

(Atlantic: 1966)

 https://youtu.be/16u6w0cjjrU  

 The first version by Sir Mack Rice himself was in ’65. 


OL’ ‘55 

(Tom Waits)

 by The Eagles

Pro: Bill Szymczyk 

(Asylum: 1974)

 ‘Now the sun’s coming up/I’m riding with Lady Luck’ 

Another first-rate Tom Waits car song was 

DIAMONDS ON MY WINDSHIELD.


THE ONE I LOVED BACK THEN (The Corvette Song) 

(Gary Gentry) 

by George Jones

Pro: Billy Sherrill 

(Columbia: 1985)

 ‘She was hotter than a two-dollar pistol’


PINK THUNDERBIRD 

(Paul Peek/Bill Davis) 

by Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps

Pro: Ken Nelson

 (Capitol: 1957) 

https://youtu.be/xTyKI-MHZUM

  Superbly covered in ’93 by Jeff Beck.


RED BARCHETTA 

(Geddy Lee/Alex Lifeson/Neil Peart) 

by Rush

Pro: Rush & Terry Brown

Eng: Donn Landee 

(Mercury: 1981) 


ROCKET ‘88’ 

(Jackie Brenston) by Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats 

(Chess: 1951)

https://youtu.be/e0mhgyTgxtw  

Recorded at Sun Studios by The Delta Cats 

aka Ike Turner & His Kings Of Rhythm.

  

ROCKIN’ DOWN THE HIGHWAY 

(Tom Johnston)

 by The Doobie Brothers/Pro: Ted Templeman 

(Warner Bros: 1972) https://youtu.be/5Dxm1Yqrn_s 

 ‘Can't you hear my motor runnin'’


UNDER MY WHEELS

 (Michael Bruce/Dennis Dunaway/Bob Ezrin) 

by Alice Cooper

Pro: Bob Ezrin/Exec Pro: Jack Richardson

 (Warner Bros: 1971) 

I’m driving in my car now’ 



YOU CAN’T CATCH ME 

(Chuck Berry) by Chuck Berry (Chess: 1956)

 https://youtu.be/xL4oPjTACPo 

With a powerful motor and some hideaway wings’. 


Song revived by John Lennon on his 1975 “Rock ‘N’ Roll” album 

after he was sued by Chuck’s publisher for using YOU CAN’T CATCH ME 

as part of the inspiration for the Beatles’ song COME TOGETHER.


Rock on.


Alan Warner


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