The Beach Boys are one of the most well known bands that have sung about cars.  They gave an impression that all kids should be hopping into their car and going to the beach to surf.  They celebrated independence and freedom in life for teenagers.  I can’t drive yet, but I CAN hop onto my bike and go to the beach.  It might take me a while (especially with a surfboard on my back!), but it sounds fun!  The American postwar economy was booming and cars were being sold left and right.  The young men who had fought in WWII came home and had kids, and those kids were the true cool of the 50’s and 60’s.   Those were the kids the Beach Boys were singing to. 

The Beach Boys’ lead singer, Brian Wilson, and his cousin, Mike Love, and other members of the band, wrote some very famous songs that referred to cars.  The 1960’s were the golden postwar years after WWII.  This is important because cars and money were everywhere and people thought that it would last forever.  It could have, except for the 1970’s oil crisis. These are some songs I chose to mention.

Brian Wilson wrote most of the songs mentioned here.  His cousin Mike Love also wrote some of these songs.  I am also attaching the YouTube videos of the songs so you can watch them.  (Parents, just so you know there is no inappropriate language.)  I hope you enjoy watching and reading about them. 

“Little Duece Coupe”.  A deuce coupe is a chopped down three or five window coupe.  A coupe is a French word meaning two doors.  I hope you enjoy it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qcb2vIFVCLA.   

“409”.  This is one of the Beach Boys’ more famous songs.  The opening line is “She’s real fine my 409. I saved pennies and I saved my dimes.”  With words like that, how could you go wrong?    A 409 means 409 cubic inches.  Chevrolet made a 409 CC V8.  If you don’t understand CC, then go back to my earlier post, Geeky Speak, it talks about engine size and CC’s.  I hope you enjoy the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKKP_cZuk54.

The next song that is coming down the road is “Custom Machine.”  Custom Machine was written in 1963 for the Album “Little Duece Coupe”.  A custom machine is simply a custom-built hot-rod.  Custom Machine is a good song, but is not as well known as “I Get Around”.  I hope that you enjoy it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpcGEOEeBb0.

Roaring down the road is “I Get Around”.  It starts as “Round, round, I get around.”  It was one of the Beach Boys’ best-selling single songs ever.  Brian Wilson is leading vocals on “I Get Around.”  Critics and the remaining members of the Beach Boys all say that it deserved to be one of their best-sellers of all time.  It makes me want to hop into a car and drive with my arm hanging out the windowsill.  The video is very enjoyable.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiekNHjkLTk.

Next up for me is “Honkin’ down the Highway.”  Weird title, anyone agree?  This time, it is the band member Al Jardine singing the lead.  I once saw somebody actually honking down the highway.  Their horn was broken and wouldn’t stop honking!!  Ha Ha!!!!  I hope you enjoy the video and the story.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHVCfj6WHXw.    

“In my car” was written for the 1989 album “Still Cruisin”.  It was homage to the early days of the Beach Boys.  For them, it was back to the simpler days of singing when they sang great singles.  “In My Car” was about just going into your car and driving in it.  I hope you enjoy it.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RraBzJ_XVFo.    

The best-seller in Sweden in 1963 was the Beach Boys song “Little Honda”.  Really.  I am not joking.  I don’t know why it was a bestseller!  Maybe the Swedish just liked the Beach Boys a lot.  Maybe the Beach Boys were just trying to impress the Swedish with this song.  Watch the video for fun.   

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2m1rrMB3JdA.

Another good song is “Our Car Club.”  It was made about the local car club in the town where the Wilson brothers grew up, Hawthorne, California.  Carl Wilson (Brian’s older brother) remembered watching them go by every night in front of his house. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2m1rrMB3JdA.

“This car of mine.”  This car of mine was written after Dennis Wilson (Carl and Brian’s older brother) went to a car dealership to buy a car and found out that somebody had just bought it a half hour before.  I hope you enjoy the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfrSVGiB5e0.

Let’s finish with “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena.”  The song originated when after WWII, an elderly man would die and leave his wife a powerful car that she almost never drove.  The song is about an old lady who was left with a “Super Stock Dodge”.  This lady not only drove it every day, but would race all the young adults and teenagers with their souped-up musclecar’s. 

When I went across the country with my family, we visited some friends in Virginia who we called Grandma and Papa.  When we were going out to dinner with them, Grandma Lois drove.  I don’t mean she just drove.  I mean DROVE F.A.S.T!  We had to floor it to keep up with them.  Go Granny Go!!  I hope that you enjoy the link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQMqgSaZZmM

There will be other bands I will write about later, so listen up!  It sounds like a lot of fun driving with the terror of Colorado Boulevard! EEEK!

7 thoughts on “The Beach Boys and the car-crazy song legacy they created.

  1. Candler – I only think it appropriate that you inform your readers that the Wilson home where they grew up and wrote most of there early hits in Hawthorne was torn down to make room for a freeway! All that is in the area of where the house stood is a small plack and a big freeway.

  2. Interesting to bring the cars and music review together. Don’t ride to the beach alone, okay? Thanks for the interesting info, as always. I could actually understand this one!!
    Cynthia

  3. I really enjoyed this post (I love the Beach Boys). I am not a huge car fan, but your writing really pulls me in and gives me a new appreciation for them! Hope you are getting lots of school credit for this 🙂

  4. Great article! I would like to point out that “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena” is actually written by Jan Berry of Jan and Dean and was inspired by the actress from a Dodge commercial. The song made her quite popular! The Beach Boys later performed it live, but the recording that is most widely circulated is sung by Jan and Dean. Still a great one to mention!

    If you ever do a followup article to this one, check out “Cherry, Cherry Coupe”, “Ballad of Ole’ Betsy”, “No-Go Showboat”, and “Car Crazy Cutie”. Love that you mentioned “This Car of Mine.” Definitely a favorite!

    1. Thanks! When I wrote this post, it was WAY back when I started writing this blog (about 4 years ago), and was unaware of that. However, I have been aware of the fact that Jan and Dean wrote the song, and that the Beach Boys covered it. Some of the Beach Boys’ biggest hits were actually covers of Jan and Dean songs (Little Deuce Coupe, I Get Around, Fun Fun Fun). I will definitely do a follow-up to this article! Thanks for the suggestion. I love it when readers ask me to do a follow-up of a post.

      1. Wonderful! I actually just found your blog tonight. My husband teaches Auto/Diesel classes at a trade school, and I’m sure he’ll want to take a look at your blog!

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