The Best Beach Boys Songs About Cars
When it comes to quintessentially American bands, The Beach Boys are definitely near the top of the list. Their songs and compositions are a pure product of the 1960s, a time when California culture was on the rise. As such, most Beach Boys songs can be fit into one of three categories: songs about girls, songs about surfing, or songs about cars.
As this is a website dedicated to all things automotive, I thought I would focus in on the more vehicular-themed anthems from the band. Therefore, I did some “surfin’” of my own and looked into the massive music library of The Beach Boys’ car tunes. What I discovered were the best Beach Boys songs about cars.
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Album: Surfin’ Safari
Original Release Date: June 4, 1962
The members of The Beach Boys often collaborated with other musicians when writing their music. One such artist was Gary Usher, who famously had an obsession with hot rods and the culture surrounding them.
That’s precisely where “409” gets its name from, as many hot rod vehicles used a Chevy 409-cubic-inch-displacement V8 engine. For a band that was all about the racing scene, a song boasting about the power of such an engine only made sense.
“When I take her to the track she really shines
(giddy up giddy up 409)
She always turns in the fastest times
(giddy up giddy up 409)”
Album: Surfin’ U.S.A.
Original Release Date: March 4, 1963
If you’d like to know where The Beach Boys stand on which American automaker is best, then you need only listen to “Shut Down.” The lyrics of this ballad, based upon a poem by collaborator Roger Christian, tell of a 1962 Dodge Dart that races against a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
At the end of the race, the Stingray manages to “shut down” the Dart. In racing, “shut down” is a term that means to beat someone in a race, and it’s where this Beach Boys classic gets its name from.
“He’s hot with ram induction but it’s understood
(Oooo pump it up now)
I got a fuel injected engine sitting under my hood
(Oooo pump it up now)”
“Little Deuce Coupe”
Album: Surfer Girl
Original Release Date: July 22, 1963
The song that truly cemented The Beach Boys’ status as a car song band, “Little Deuce Coupe” is a song dedicated to the coupe version of the Ford Model 18. While other racers may underestimate the undersized car, the narrator assures them that it could take on any one of their vehicles.
Even back in the day, “Little Deuce Coupe” was one of the band’s biggest hits. It was so successful that it let to a Holiday-themed variation: “Little Saint Nick.”
“Just a little deuce coupe with a flathead mill
But she’ll walk a Thunderbird like she’s standing still”
“Fun, Fun, Fun”
Album: Shut Down Volume 2
Original Release Date: February 3, 1964
Compared to other artists who were emerging at the time, The Beach Boys were considered to be a pretty wholesome band. That doesn’t mean that their songs couldn’t delve into some mischievous subjects and themes at times.
Case in point: “Fun, Fun, Fun.” This single from The Beach Boys tells the story of a teenage girl who deceives her father so that she can go out and race in his Ford Thunderbird.
“Well the girls can’t stand her cause she walks, looks and drives like an Ace, now
She makes the Indy 500 look like a Roman chariot race, now”
“Don’t Worry Baby”
Album: Shut Down Volume 2
Original Release Date: May 11, 1964
While The Beach Boys are famous for their easy-going, light-hearted sound, that doesn’t mean that their songs couldn’t get serious and somewhat dark at times. “Don’t Worry Baby” is one of those more introspective songs.
The song, based around a driver who is comforted by his girlfriend after agreeing to a potentially dangerous race, is considered by many to be a turning point for the band, as their songs began to focus in on more thought-provoking subjects afterward. There’s a reason why the single is included on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
“Well its been building up inside of me
For oh I don’t know how long
I don’t know why
But I keep thinking
Something’s bound to go wrong
But she looks in my eyes
And makes me realize
And she says “Don’t worry baby”
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Of course, this is just a small sampling of songs from The Beach Boys. If you’d like to share any more auto-themed compositions from the band, then feel free to do so in the comments below.
Zachary Berry currently resides in the Dayton, Ohio area. However, he enjoys traveling from place to place, as he was born in Oklahoma City and has also lived in Albuquerque and Orlando (such is the life of a military brat). Zachary graduated from Ohio University with a major in Strategic Communication, which is fancy talk for advertising and public relations. Beginning his career at The News Wheel as a lowly intern, he was able to climb his way to the top, eventually claiming his place within the last cubicle on the left. Other jobs that Zachary has held include driving around a safari truck at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. When he’s not putting his nose to the grindstone, Zachary enjoys watching and critiquing movies and television. See more articles by Zachary.