Little Deuce Coupe (song)

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"Little Deuce Coupe"
Single by The Beach Boys
from the album Surfer Girl
A-side "Surfer Girl"
Released July 22, 1963
Format Vinyl
Recorded June 12, 1963
Genre Hot rod rock, car song[1]
Length 1:38
Label Capitol
Writer(s) Brian Wilson, Roger Christian
Producer(s) Brian Wilson
The Beach Boys singles chronology
"Surfin' U.S.A"
  • (1963)
"Surfer Girl"
  • "Little Deuce Coupe"
  • (1963)
Endless Summer track listing

"Little Deuce Coupe" is a song written by Brian Wilson and Roger Christian. The song first appeared as the b-side to The Beach Boys' 1963 single "Surfer Girl". The car referred to is 1932 Ford Model 18. "Little Deuce Coupe" became The Beach Boys' highest charting b-side, peaking on September 28, 1963 at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Composition[edit]

The music was written by Brian Wilson with the lyric by local radio station DJ Roger Christian. Its main melody is a twelve-bar blues.[2] The song typified the Beach Boys' car songs which along with surfing, glamorized the teenage 1960s Californian lifestyle later called the California Myth. It was released on the Surfer Girl album and then again as the title track of the album Little Deuce Coupe.[3] A Christmas-themed spin-off, "Little Saint Nick", was released by the group as a single later in the year.

The car referred to is the Ford Model 18; the 1932 coupe model was referred to as a "deuce coupe".[4][5]

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."[full citation needed] 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.[full citation needed]

Chart performance[edit]

"Little Deuce Coupe" became The Beach Boys' highest charting b-side, making it to #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of September 28, 1963. It spent 11 weeks on the chart.[6] It was the first of the Beach Boys' b-sides to receive a million spins on US radio.[citation needed]

Recording[edit]

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.

Personnel[edit]

The Beach Boys

Variations[edit]

Live performances[edit]

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

Legacy[edit]

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."[8]

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.[9]

Cover versions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hoffmann, Frank W.; Bailey, William G. (1990). Arts & Entertainment Fads, Volume 1. Binghampton: Haworth Press. p. 61. ISBN 9780866568814. 
  2. ^ Lambert, Philip (2007). Inside the Music of Brian Wilson: the Songs, Sounds, and Influences of the Beach Boys' Founding Genius. Continuum. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-8264-1876-0. 
  3. ^ Badman, Keith (2004). The Beach Boys: The Definitive Diary of America's Greatest Band, on Stage and in the Studio. Backbeat Books. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-87930-818-6. 
  4. ^ Roy, Rex (August 27, 2009). "Surfers Met Rodders, and a Genre Was Born". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Wallace, Dave (October 19, 2012). "Little Deuce Coupe". Hot Rod. 
  6. ^ "The Beach Boys:Chart History". Billboard.com. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2013). Hot Country Songs 1944–2012. Record Research, Inc. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-89820-203-8. 
  8. ^ Zappa, Frank (1989). Real Frank Zappa book. p. 187. ISBN 9780671705725. 
  9. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (30 June 2005). "War of the Worlds". The Guardian. 

External links[edit]