Little Deuce Coupe (song)
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|"Little Deuce Coupe"|
|Single by The Beach Boys|
|from the album Surfer Girl|
|Released||July 22, 1963|
|Recorded||June 12, 1963|
|Writer(s)||Brian Wilson/Roger Christian|
|The Beach Boys singles chronology|
"Little Deuce Coupe" is a song written by Brian Wilson and Roger Christian. Its main melody is a Twelve-bar blues. The song first appeared as the b-side to The Beach Boys' 1963 single "Surfer Girl". It was released on the Surfer Girl album and then again as the title track of the album Little Deuce Coupe.
"Surfer Girl" reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100, while "Little Deuce Coupe" became The Beach Boys' highest charting b-side, making it to #15. It was the first of the Beach Boys' b-sides to receive a million spins on US radio. Internationally, it was reported by a French internet publication to be the 20th biggest hit of 1963 in that country.
According to author Jon Stebbins in his book The Lost Beach Boy, while the group was on tour in July 1963 Mike Love hit on the idea to use short instrumental segments of the song in the Beach Boys' live set as a way to introduce the bandmembers to the audience, starting with Dennis Wilson on drums, then adding David Marks (and later Al Jardine) on rhythm guitar, Carl Wilson on lead guitar, and finally Brian on the bass, before launching the song from the top.
The music was written by Brian Wilson with the lyric by local radio station DJ Roger Christian; it typified the Beach Boys' "car songs" which along with "surfing", glamorized the teenage 1960s Californian lifestyle. The car referred to is the Ford Model 18; the 1932 coupe model was referred to as a "deuce coupe". There was also a roadster that year.
Contrary to popular belief it was not a Model B. The Model B had four cyclinders, but the Model 18 had the first Ford flathead V8 engine (221 cu. in.). Model 18s and Bs were readily available and easily modified, as auto enthusiasts (or "hot rodders") removed spare weight and improved the engine.
Brian Wilson commented on the song in the liner notes of the 1990 CD re-release of the original Surfer Girl album: "We loved doing 'Little Deuce Coupe'. It was a good 'shuffle' rhythm, which was not like most of the rhythms of the records on the radio in those days. It had a bouncy feel to it. Like most of our records, it had a competitive lyric. This record was my favorite Beach Boys car song."
Frank Zappa was quoted in his autobiography The Real Frank Zappa Book, "One of the most exciting things that ever happened in the world of 'white-person music' was when the Beach Boys used the progression V-II on "Little Deuce Coupe." An important step forward by going backward."
The song was recorded at Western Studios on June 12, 1963, at the same recording session as "Surfer Girl". The two songs were the first songs recorded for The Beach Boys' third album, Surfer Girl. This was the first Beach Boys recording session where Brian Wilson served as the official producer, and also one of the last sessions before Al Jardine rejoined the band.
- The Beach Boys
- Mike Love - lead vocals
- David Marks - guitar
- Brian Wilson - bass guitar, piano, vocals
- Carl Wilson - lead guitar, vocals
- Dennis Wilson - drums, vocals
- A demo version surfaced on the 2001 compilation Hawthorne, CA.
- It was recorded as part of a medley with "I Get Around" on Beach Boys' Party!.
- On their 1996 album Stars and Stripes Vol. 1, the Beach Boys re-recorded this song with country music artist James House. This version peaked at number 69 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.
- On the album, "Beach Boys: Rare Early Recordings", Track 4 on the A side is an Instrumental version of the song, played by Mike Love on his Saxophone.
The Beach Boys have released five live versions of "Little Deuce Coupe", on Beach Boys Concert, Good Timin': Live at Knebworth England 1980, Songs from Here & Back, as part of a medley on Endless Harmony Soundtrack and as part of a medley on Live – The 50th Anniversary Tour. Al Jardine included this song on his solo album Live in Las Vegas.
The song has been a regular during Beach Boys sets often as part of the car medley. Brian Wilson has performed the song live several times including on his 2013 tour with Al Jardine and David Marks in which Jardine took the lead vocal.
Jan & Dean covered the song on their album Drag City in 1963.
An instrumental cover version with some popularity on its own was published the same year as the original by The Defenders.
In the 2005 film, War of the Worlds directed by Steven Spielberg, Ray Ferrier (played by Tom Cruise) sings part of the song to his daughter (Dakota Fanning) as a lullaby when she is too afraid to sleep.
- Badman, Keith. The Beach Boys. The Definitive Diary of America's Greatest Band: On Stage and in the Studio Backbeat Books, San Francisco, California, 2004. p. 39
- Inside the Music of Brian Wilson: The Songs, Sounds and Influences of the Beach Boys' Founding Genius, Lambert, Phillip, p.128
- Whitburn, Joel (2013). Hot Country Songs 1944–2012. Record Research, Inc. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-89820-203-8.