The Beach Boys
- “Little Deuce Coupe” (Brian Wilson and Roger Christian, 1963)
- “409” (Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Gary Usher, 1962)
- “I Get Around” (Brian Wilson and Mike Love, 1964)
Although the Beach boys probably lead the universe in great driving songs, or at least in songs about cars, we chose this holy trinity because each song exemplifies not simply so much about the Beach Boys as musicians, but about the spirit of California, and even more specifically, about driving in California.
“Little Deuce Coupe,” celebrates a classic hot rod: a 1932 Ford Model B Coupe (for more on the history of hot rods and their particular connection to California see the invaluable The Nearest Faraway Place: Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys, and the Southern California Experience by Timothy White). The reference to “pink slip” was the title for the car. The track is pure driving joy with Dennis Wilson’s drumming, Al Jardine’s and Carl Wilson’s guitars, Brian Wilson’s bass, and of course, those mythical harmonies.
“409” reflects much of what the Beach Boys picked up from rhythm and blues artists and its rhythmic cadence is absolutely perfect for a nice drive down Sunset Boulevard (or you can pretend while you drive down some piece-of-shit contemporary American road). The 409 was the muscle beauty Chevy Impala SS 409 (“She’s real fine my 409,” of course!).
“I Get Around” celebrates the freedom and adventurousness of the road— the need to get in a nice car and drive around. This music is pheromone inducing as any in human history.
Honorable mention: “Shut Down” (Brian Wilson, Roger Christian, Mike Love, 1963) is a kind of narrative musical poem about a drag race between a Super-Stock 413, 1962 Dodge Dart, and a fuel-injected 1963 Corvette Sting Ray—mouth-watering stuff for classic car geeks!