Why Don't We Do It in the Road?
|"Why Don't We Do It in the Road?"|
|Song by the Beatles|
|from the album The Beatles|
|Released||22 November 1968|
|Recorded||9–10 October 1968|
"Why Don't We Do It in the Road?" is a song by the Beatles released on their 1968 album The Beatles, commonly referred to as "the White Album". It was written and sung by Paul McCartney, but credited to Lennon–McCartney. "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?" is short and simple; 1:42 of twelve-bar blues that begins with three different percussion elements (a hand banging on the back of an acoustic guitar, handclaps, and drums) and features McCartney's increasingly raucous vocal repeating a simple lyric with only two different lines.
McCartney wrote the song after seeing two monkeys copulating in the street while on retreat in Rishikesh, India, with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He marvelled in the simplicity of this natural scenario when compared to the emotional turmoil of human relationships. He later said:
A male [monkey] just hopped on the back of this female and gave her one, as they say in the vernacular. Within two or three seconds he hopped off again and looked around as if to say "It wasn't me!" and she looked around as if there'd been some mild disturbance ... And I thought ... that's how simple the act of procreation is ... We have horrendous problems with it, and yet animals don't.
On 9 October 1968, while John Lennon and George Harrison were working on two other songs for the album, McCartney recorded five takes of the song in Studio One at Abbey Road Studios. Unlike its heavy blues result, the song began as an acoustic guitar number with McCartney alternating by verse between gentle and strident vocal styles. On this first night, McCartney played all the instruments himself. This version of the song can be found on the Beatles' Anthology 3.
On 10 October, McCartney and Ringo Starr finished the song, Starr adding drums and handclaps, McCartney adding more vocals, bass guitar, and lead guitar. Lennon and Harrison were again occupied, supervising string overdubs for "Piggies" and "Glass Onion".
Upon learning about the recording, Lennon was unhappy that McCartney recorded the song without him. In his 1980 interview with Playboy, he was asked about it:
- Playboy: "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?"
- Lennon: That's Paul. He even recorded it by himself in another room. That's how it was getting in those days. We came in and he'd made the whole record. Him drumming. Him playing the piano. Him singing. But he couldn't—he couldn't—maybe he couldn't make the break from the Beatles. I don't know what it was, you know. I enjoyed the track. Still, I can't speak for George, but I was always hurt when Paul would knock something off without involving us. But that's just the way it was then.
- Playboy: You never just knocked off a track by yourself?
- Lennon: No.
- Playboy: "Julia"?
- Lennon: That was mine.
"Julia" was recorded four days after the first session for "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?," and is a solo performance by Lennon (double-tracked lead vocals and acoustic guitar), though McCartney was present for the recording, as he can be heard talking to Lennon from the control room after a take on the Beatles' Anthology 3.
In a 1981 conversation with Hunter Davies, who had written a biography of the Beatles in 1968, McCartney responded to a Yoko Ono interview where she said McCartney had hurt Lennon more than anyone else, by saying, "No one ever goes on about the times John hurt me ... Could I have hurt him more than the person who ran down his mother in his car?" He then brought up Lennon's comments about "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?": "There's only one incident I can think of that John has mentioned publicly. It was when I went off with Ringo and did 'Why Don't We Do It in the Road'. It wasn't a deliberate thing. John and George were tied up finishing something and me and Ringo were free, just hanging around, so I said to Ringo, 'Let's go and do this.'"
McCartney also expressed some lingering resentment about a similar incident with "Revolution 9", recorded in June 1968, a few months before "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?": "Anyway, he did the same with 'Revolution 9'. He went off and made that without me. No one ever says that. John is the nice guy and I'm the bastard. It gets repeated all the time."
- Paul McCartney – vocals, thumped acoustic guitar, piano, electric guitar, bass, handclaps
- Ringo Starr – drums, handclaps
- Lowell Fulson covered the song on his 1970 album In A Heavy Bag.
- Phish covered the song live, along with the rest of The Beatles, and released it on Live Phish Volume 13.
- Lydia Lunch released a version on her album Transmutation.
- In 2005, the a cappella band Toxic Audio covered the song on their album Word of Mouth.
- In 2007 it was recorded by Dana Fuchs for Across the Universe and is featured on the soundtrack.
- Today Is the Day recorded a cover version of the song on their 2000 compilation album, Live 'Til You Die.
- Meat Loaf recorded a cover version on the Live CD of his 2010 two-disc album Hang Cool Teddy Bear.
- G. Love & Special Sauce released a live version from their Rothbury, MI show, 2003.
- Phil Lesh sang the song in concert a few times in the mid-1980s with the Grateful Dead, and subsequently with Phil Lesh & Friends and The Dead.
- The Feverfew covered the song on their 2011 release The Copycat EP.
- The Vasco Era cover the song regularly in live performances.
- The 4onthefloor covered the song for Volume 3 of the Minnesota Beatle Project.
- Miles 1997, pp. 498–499.
- Sheff 2000, p. 189.
- Lewisohn 1988, p. 200.
- MacDonald 2005, p. 325.
- Pollack 2010.
- Aldridge 1990, p. 69.
- Lewisohn 1996, pp. 69.
- Lewisohn 1988, pp. 160–161.
- MacDonald 2005, p. 326.
- Davies 2006, pp. 398–399.
- Davies 2006, p. 401.
- MP3.com 2007.
- Jarnow 2007.
- Allmusic 2007.
- Vega Productions – Minnesota Beatle Project
- Aldridge, Alan (1990). The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics. Boston: Houghton Mifflin / Seymour Lawrence. ISBN 0-395-59426-X.
- "Artists who performed "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?"". Allmusic. 2007. Archived from the original on 28 December 2006. Retrieved 22 March 2007.
- Davies, Hunter (2006). The Beatles: The Illustrated and Updated Edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-32886-4.
- Jarnow, Jesse (2007). "AMG Review of Live Phish Volume 13". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 March 2007.
- Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 0-517-57066-1.
- Lewisohn, Mark (1996). Anthology 3 (booklet). The Beatles. London: Apple Records. 34451.
- "Lowell Fulson Albums". MP3.com. 2007. Retrieved 10 October 2007.
- MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). ISBN 1-84413-828-3.
- Miles, Barry (1997). Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt & Company. ISBN 0-8050-5249-6.
- Pollack, Alan W (2010). "Notes on "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?"". Notes on ... Series.
- Sheff, David (2000). All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-25464-4.